In the wake of this week’s Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, politicians and citizens alike seem to be asking what went wrong. Some admit bewilderment, acknowledging that the scale of the tragedy seems too large to be justified by any reasonable cause. Others, however, seem more confident in knowing exactly what caused the shooting.
Pat Buchanan blames the general degradation of American culture. President Clinton seems to place much blame on lack of gun control, judging at least from his reactionary efforts to limit access to firearms. His wife, speaking to a conference of teachers in Niagara Falls, NY, cites the media and video games as culpable in desensitizing violence in the minds of American youth.
These suggested causes are plausible, but certainly not ultimately justifiable or even very satisfying. Something went very wrong; somehow the two student gunmen did not comprehend what they were doing – if they had, common sense suggests that the mere horror of the thought would have stopped them from acting so violently.
Meanwhile, the United States let NATO bombing campaigns in Kosovo continue. Kosovo and Yugoslavia are largely destroyed. Many people, both civilian and military, have been killed, and NATO has nothing to show for it. Clinton refuses to use ground troops and refuses to stop the bombing.
That is to say, Clinton refuses to sensitize the United States to the violence of the military campaign it is leading. The United States, in so far as it is willing only to conduct a risk-free clinical military campaign, is guilty of indulging in desensitized violence beyond the scope of any video game.
Leaders and citizens who are disturbed by the violence in Littleton should reevaluate their positions on action in Kosovo.