The U.S. Revenge Culture Is Preventing Our Success
After watching Michael Moore’s “Where To Invade Next” documentary, I saw why and how Americans house 25% of the world’s prisoners. As an authoritarian manifestation, U.S. Christian fundamentalist ideology is ‘criminogenic’, meaning that it actually causes crime by preaching that people are so bad that they have to be constantly threatened with and delivered punishment laws that promote non-productive vengeance instead of forgiveness. Thus we have the popularity of the Donald Trump and Ted Cruz promising punishment of socio-economic symptoms related to unemployment and never-ending American-originated wars rather than identifying the causes of problems. Stewing for more than 100 years, the U.S. religious vengeance audience loves it.
For example, 2.4 million, the total U.S. prison population, has increased 500% over the past 30 years. The U.S. spent $80 billion on non-rehabilitative incarceration in 2010 alone, and more last year. A first-time U.S. drug offense may carriy a sentence of 5–10 years. In other developed countries that sentence would be no jail time, only counseling and medication. The Norwegian prison scene in Moore’s movie has prisoners engaged in true rehabilitation, like mindfulness meditation, contributing to their community, and rebuilding self respect: even murderers have keys to their own cells. At 20% Norway has the world’s lowest prison recidivism with incarceration rates of 75 per 100,000 people, compared to 707 people for every 100,000 people in the US, a perfect illustration of the failure of vengeance. Rehabilitated Norwegian inmates rarely return.
Vengeance cultures lend themselves to many types of criminal activity including the promotion of violent crimes against a variety of victims, terrorism against those of different faiths, crimes against the environment, and crimes by the state against other countries, thus our invasion of Iraq. Christian fundamentalism has set the United States on a dangerous course that is creating a tide of social problems couched in a Christian nationalism that includes the language of war, a theocracy of getting even, and punishment, such as the War On Drugs, a $40 billion dollar failure.
Here is one obvious cause of crime. Studies show that at least 25% of prisoners in the United States have ADHD or ADD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a vicious, sometimes invisible, mental health problem producing anxiety that is, however, highly treatable. Without proper medication ADHD boys self-medicate with tobacco and marijuana to help control aggression, impulsivity, irritability, depression, social alienation, and learning disabilities. ADHD girls have sexual intercourse at an early age and are more likely to get pregnant. Effective treatment includes prescriptions and counseling that, for example, can help students concentrate and get A’s in school. Note well that this is only one of many mental health problems turning children victims into criminals and creating the homeless as long as we do little or nothing.
Two countries have had great success in the treating of causes, not symptoms, of drug abuse. It is too easy for U.S. bureaucrats and the media to refuse to look at the methodology behind Japan and China’s unparalleled and rapid success in ending drug addiction problems many times worse than ours. Masamutsu Nagahama, Japan’s chief of the Narcotics Section, Ministry of Health and Welfare said, “In conclusion, we think we can state that the drug problem is under control thanks to the strong line taken to eradicate addiction.” That means their success has been in treating the addict to dry up the demand, not the supplier, as our DEA’s $1.0149 billion A YEAR “supply” division tries but fails to do. A simple way to look at it: when was anyone at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting encouraged to blame the clerk who sold him the beer?
Accountability with compassion (“tough love”) should be the hallmark of a demand-side drug policy. Consider random sobriety tests to keep drunk drivers off the road. Demand-based narcotics policies would be the same. All Christians can play a pivotal role in accelerating a dialogue toward a shift in our current policy. Defining this proven approach to drugs in our country should become a crusade that unifies Christians on the right and the left. The one concept nearly all Christians have understood is the concept of personal accountability for sins. Real change starts from within, not from placing the blame for our problems on others, like scapegoating politicians. The fundamental principles of most substance-abuse support groups derive from Christian principles. A demand-side prevention will reduce the demand for illegal drugs and create less incentive for the existence of the drug cartels and drug violence both here and in Latin America. Think about lower levels of violence in our communities. Prevention works. For example, school teachers know incompetent parents also produce unloved, mentally ill children, thus our continuous fifty-year history of contraception-reduced U.S. crime with benefits for us all.
However, right-wing Christians thirsting for the End Times provide their own distraction from and an excuse to avoid the real problems in the world. The appeal of apocalypse fantasies is mainly that they help believers avoid the fear of death. Zombie apocalypse stories work because the audience identifies with the survivors, not the people who die, that is, the zombies. Gun bloggers occasionally debate the best weapons to stop the zombies when they come, and I am not sure they are always joking.
Billionaires use conservative politicians to use the belief that the end time is near to misdirect politically their followers. They use this irresponsible belief in the end times to turn the audience against, for example, Obamacare without having to perform a truthful search for what’s really going on. The silly prediction that the apocalypse is near has been used to defend everything from global warming denial (wink: we’ll survive and it will kill the heathen Arab fornicators!), to opposition to Obamacare, to endless-war policies in the Middle East. The problem with culturally-imbedded self-fulfilling prophecies like religious End Times and endless war activities like bombing terrorists is that they can subconsciously influence decision-making behaviors to make a false definition of a situation evoking a new behavior which makes the original false conception come true. Then the “prophet” will cite the actual course of events as proof that he was right from the very beginning.
For example, Kate Gould provides a fresh proactive view on five non-military solutions to Middle East warfare in “Treat ISIS Like an Artichoke: A Non-Military Route to the Heart of the Crisis” 30 March 2016 in Truthout where she lists the inclusive diplomatic and non-military solutions that hold the best hope for peeling off ISIS’s layers of recruits, weapons and financial support. As the Iraq and Syria slaughter will eventually end with negotiated diplomacy, why not do it now? Well, partly because the U.S. military contractors are enjoying non-stop income with military solutions, that’s why, and we allow it.
This Christian Right’s excitement to see the non-believers punished is so strong that many favor unintended consequences resulting in, for example, carbon pollution destroying life on the planet. After a great tragedy, excited pastors spreading Non-Think disinformation have said this is what people deserve, for example, blaming pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians for 9/11. Texas preacher John Hagee blamed the devastation of Hurricane Katrina on gay pride parades. Hold a parade, get a hurricane. Now that’s power! Q. “How dumb can you get?” A. “How dumb do you want me?”
Q. When will politicians just say no to this blathering scapegoating ignorance such as Fresno County Sheriff’s Margaret Mims denial of medical marijuana benefits and the expensive creation of unnecessary criminals?
A. When we tell them to stop.
Diversionary disinformation does not speak to solving the causes of problems. We need to find the causes and solve the problems.