Desensitizing Americans has been a systematic and intentional process, evolving over the years, that has brought us to the numbness we feel today. Americans were not always violent, initially we had a sense of values, of fair play and of mutual respect for their fellow man.
The pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, with European Law in hand, and decided to bring religion to the heathen Native Americans, whether they wanted it or not. But this is not about religion, Indians or law, it is about how the population has become desensitized to the horrors of war, and willing to kill for all the wrong reasons.
Emotions work at three-times the speed of reason and logic, and emotions drive decisions more frequently than civilized man cares to admit. The gag-reflex keeps us from eating spoiled foods, and we never have to think about it before the body rejects things that smell repulsive. It's nature's way of protecting us and ensuring survival. Xenophobia works the same way. We have a built-in gag-reflex towards people who are different from ourselves, not that they smell repulsive, but because we never get around to using logic and reason.
In order to overcome any sense of fairness or equality toward those we intend to banish, man uses the emotional energy of hatred. The gag-reflex is initiated through hate speech, rhetoric, and made-up fiction from those who stand to profit. The bigger the profit, the more rhetoric and propaganda is dispatched. It stands to reason that we must hate someone in order to wish them harm, and we must detest them, big-time, in order to kill them. Through the magic of symbolism, we automatically create images associated to words faster than we can think about it, and we freely use prejudice and derogatory terms to identify our enemies. Hatred is an emotional extreme dislike, from which springs anger and often hostility. It is through the use of hatred, that armies of soldiers are persuaded to march across continents, decimating everything that stand in their way. It is not through logic nor reason.
Fueled by the American merchant class in the colonies who wanted to break free of the controls imposed by the pro-British elite, and driven by radical politicians and propagandists, such as Paul Revere and Sam Adams, Americans began a campaign of killing for corporate interests. We call them Patriots today, bringing some sort of honor to the deeds of rebels.
Since the early days of the American Revolution, the military methods of desensitizing people has taken on a life of it's own. I remember reading that after the Revolutionary War they found many muskets and rifles among the dead, which had several "loads & shots" still stuffed in the barrel; the gun never fired. It appeared that soldiers were not keen on shooting their enemy; their friends, their countrymen and neighbors, and they would load their guns over and over again. There appeared to be a moral objection to killing other human beings. It was a part of the culture to assist & respect other human beings.
Americans (European settlers) spread across the nation on a mission of Manifest Destiny; "imperialism, rationalized as inevitable, as if granted by God." (~Britanica.com) The White man spread across the land, pillaging, robbing, torturing and slaughtering "Inguns, Redskins, and Savages" and backfilled their path of destruction with farms and ranches, importing "Negros, Niggers and Slaves" to do the hard work. Slaves were considered to be only 60% of a human being, but better than the Inguns and women ".. Manifest Destiny evolved into American Exceptionalism, and the population started believing in their own rhetoric and propaganda ". "as if granted by God."
During the First World War, many soldiers admitted that they did not shoot-to-kill their enemy, rather they shot in the direction of the enemy hoping not to hit anyone unless they were personally attacked and in real danger of being killed or wounded. Self defense became a reason to kill, and it became morally acceptable. The culture of war changed the way we felt about people different from ourselves; morality had changed also.
In the Second World War, the use of airplanes removed the pilots from the damage they were creating. Soldiers no longer had to look their enemy in the eye; distance desensitizes. The advent of automatic weapons meant that you never had to see the face of your enemy; never had to look them in the eye before destroying their lives, their culture, children and family. Life became an expendable commodity, especially if they were "Commie, Jerry, or Gook"
Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Granada, Iraq or Afghanistan, it no longer matters who the enemy is, we train our young soldiers to disrupt, destroy, capture and kill. We send them half-way around the world for a period of years and then bring them home to resettle into our communities as peaceful, contributing citizens. Who can be puzzled by random acts of violence committed by those indoctrinated and trained to kill ? Do pit-bulls belong in the neighborhood with children ?
We have since brought competition into our homes, with soccer, little-league, high school-football, wrestling, boxing, video-games, television, movies and professional sporting events displayed on the plasma wide-screen for our amusement. We encourage our young to compete; to take up a sport, and win at all costs. We teach them to play through the pain, to shrug off their cuts and bruises and get back in the game and beat the snot out of the other team. We teach our young to be insensitive, as we take great pleasure watching over-paid gladiators decimate their own bodies on the gridiron every Sunday during the winter months.
The military, the press and Hollywood have taken the realities out of killing. There was a code in Hollywood, for many years, that we were never to see the real anguish, the horror and the blood of those killed. We are not allowed to see the coffins returning home from abroad (to the exclusion of one Obama photo-opportunity), we are sheltered from the real damage done to the lives of millions of innocent people by our nation's hostile activities. The CIA enjoys impunity from overturning democratic governments, causing death and destruction and the people of America are kept in the dark. Censorship keeps the people ill-informed and propaganda makes a game out of killing for your country. Few, at home, ever take the time to think about it; if they did, they would realize that our soldiers are not fighting and dying for freedom or democracy; they are fighting for multinational corporations and imperial expansion.
Americans live in a cocoon, financing war, starvation, suffering, devastation and destruction without ever having to look into the eyes of the "appointed" enemy, and Washington intends to keep it that way. There are those among us that would cry out that war is immoral. When one considers that morals are a reflection of the culture; the norms and acceptable limits which people place on their actions, violence has become the new-norm (moral).
We now live in an amoral country; simply no-longer interested in morality. Greed has replaced our morality, and it has a price; "as if granted by God."