From My Lai to Uvalde, Massacres are as American as Apple Pie

Credit: Ron Haeberle. My Lai Massacre




This article was originally published on April 22, 2022, and updated on May 25, 2022.


Even before the horrific murders in Texas, guns were killing more kids in the US than any other source. But this is no surprise.

From the My Lai massacre in Vietnam in 1968 to the recent school attack in Uvalde, Texas, mass killings by Americans are nothing new. Nor are the responses to these massacres. Denial, reluctant acceptance, or complete condemnation and promises of reforms and prayers are the boilerplate rhetoric.

But in an unrepresentative democracy run by corporations and wealthy donors, the status quo is paramount. The status quo solidifies the cash flows and tax benefits.

This is why, in a press conference today, Gov. Abbott of Texas is pushing for more mental health services because he says that these massacres are not regular. Abbott, who is against public assistance in all forms, thinks that expensive mental health counseling will distract people from the real problems.

Abbott, like many other Republicans, fails to remember that massacres are normal in US society.  Look at the Ly Lai massacre in 1968 that was conducted by young soldiers in their late teens and early 20s and then denied by the US Army for a year until an intrepid reporter for the New York Times broke the story about the massacre.

But the news and Republicans tell us that massacres committed by disturbed, angry young men are becoming more common. These sad criminal events have been done on mass scales by US forces overseas for decades and then publicized and monetized in movies, games, and TV.

But if Gov. Abbott of Texas is so concerned about mental health issues, why does he worship Donald Trump, who has mental health problems? Trump was never treated for his sociopathic and criminal acts because he is a wealthy white businessman. His money allowed his mental illness to be overlooked by millions of people, including Abbott.

As to gun control, Abbot is pushing for more armed teachers and fortified schools. These are both suggestions designed to cloud the issue.

As this chart from shows, mental illness (psychosis) accounts for only 19% of shootings. When Republicans say those mass murderers who use guns have mental problems, they are intentionally simplifying the issue for political gain.

Reasons Why People Commit Mass Murders



Guns, More Guns, and Pass the Ammunition

The real issue is too many guns. There are more guns in the US than citizens; some 120.5 guns for every US resident. Guns are as American as apple pie, and the US accounts for 46% of the world’s total gun ownership.

Why are there so many guns in the US?

Because the US is the most violent society in the world, this is not discussed in the media. Still, the US is a significant sponsor of colonialism, both domestically and internationally.

The US first colonized North America and decimated the native American population, but then moved internationally to conquer more nations. In 1899, the US invaded the Philippines to gain access to Far East commercial markets, but that was too blatantly self-serving, so the US said: “The Filipinos were incapable of self-rule, and feared that if the United States did not take control of the islands, another power (such as Germany or Japan) might do so.”

To make the connection between this first example of colonial expansion and the most recent wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Viet Nam, and coups in Central and South America, in 1899, “The ensuing Philippine-American War lasted three years and resulted in the death of over 4,200 American and over 20,000 Filipino combatants. As many as 200,000 Filipino civilians died from violence, famine, and disease,” according to the US Department of State.

Show Me the Guns

What does this have to do with what happened in the Mexican working-class city of Uvalde, Texas?

The colonial history is not specific to Texas, although they are a great example of unlimited gun access and the swagger that promotes violence, it shows that the US accepts violence and mass murder. That is not a popular thing to say, but the US killed more civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Laos, and in scores of rarely discussed coups worldwide than the Russians have in Ukraine.

The Ukrainians brought to justice a Russian soldier who killed an unarmed Ukrainian man in record time compared to the US military justice system that delayed for years and covered up the infamous My Lai massacre in Vietnam.

In that military horror story, the US military covered up the killings for years until the story was discovered by the New York Times. It is one of the best examples of investigative journalism in US history.

The History Channel summarized this military disgrace as follows:

“…in the village of My Lai on March 16, 1968. More than 500 people were slaughtered in the My Lai massacre, including young girls and women who were raped and mutilated before being killed. U.S. Army officers covered up the carnage for a year before it was reported in the American press, sparking a firestorm of international outrage. The brutality of the My Lai killings and the official cover-up fueled anti-war sentiment and further divided the United States over the Vietnam War.”

Massacre in Texas

So, flash forward to May 2022 and the killings of about 22 kids and adults in Uvalde, Texas. This event is an extension of US history conducted in other parts of the world and brought back to the USA. The gun lobby and the military contractors who churn out thousands of weapons a week make money because these weapons are shipped worldwide. The guns need a market. Automatic weapons are not designed for hunting or target shooting.

Automatic weapons have one purpose: to kill people. All adults know this, especially the politicians who take money from the gun lobbyists, knowing that automatic weapons are sold to sick people who want to kill or shoot up people and places for fun.  Or, if they are mercenaries, as many soldiers on the front lines of US wars worldwide, they know the benefit of auto weapons.

So, it is logical and not surprising that auto weapons find a place in Uvalde, Texas, a working-class rural town, by some alienated 18-year-old who faced a limited future in a state with uncaring, opportunistic politicians in state offices.

Guns Kill More Kids Than Accidents

Guns are now a leading killer of children and account for more child deaths than car accidents.

This results from a new study, detailed in this report from the New England Journal of Medicine.

As reporter Nina Shapiro writes, “While accidents, in general, remain the most common cause of death in youth, for those ages 1 to 24 years, death due to gun violence and accidental injury are now more common than death due to motor vehicle accidents.”

Shapiro points out that the US auto industry and the US Department of Transportation made great strides in child safety protections, with seat belts and specially designed car seats and restraints. This accounts for the decline in child deaths due to auto accidents.

But as expected, the gun story is very different.  Guns are part of the American myth, and the gun lobby uses extreme interpretations of the freedom to bear arms.  The gun lobby’s old mantra for the past 30 years is that guns are safe when in the hands of law-abiding citizens.  Unfortunately, that slogan does not cover kids who do not fit this definition.

As a result, Shapiro notes that “there were just under 7,000 firearm-related deaths in those ages 1- to 24-years in 2000, and over 10,000 deaths in 2020.”

The statistics speak for themselves, but as this New England Journal study was released, watch for the Republican gun lobby supporters to attack the study, its messengers, and its conclusions.

So, when the Republicans say they are concerned about children, remember that they are banning books in school, empowering censorship in the classroom, criticizing teachers for teaching subjects they do not endorse, and now promoting guns over the safety measures needed to protect kids.


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