Fourth of July marred by gun violence, protests
On July 4, 1777, Philadelphia celebrated the US’ first Independence Day with a salute of 13 gunshots and a mega fireworks event. Ancestors of the Americans probably never would have imagined that US people celebrating the 246th Independence Day would listen carefully to distinguish fireworks from gunshots, as the guns are not for celebrating, but for killing.
The fourth of July is a festival meant to inspire and demonstrate national pride and unity. Yet this year’s Independence Day was marred by gun violence, protests and widespread despair toward a failing country. Being the group hit most by the country’s failure, the US’ young people are venting their anger and turning their anguish into extreme violence.
The US youth are more divided and violent, and in an even worse situation than the “lost generation,” and their despair and anguish is going to lead the country into a dimmer and hopeless future.
More than eight hours after firing a “high-powered rifle” from a rooftop into a crowd attending Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade, killing six people and wounding dozens in one of the worst mass shootings in Illinois history, a gunman identified as Robert Crimo, 22, was taken into custody Monday morning, local time, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
US President Joe Biden, when delivering remarks at a 4th of July BBQ with military families at the White House, said “The economy is growing, but not without pain. Liberty is under assault, assault both here and abroad,” he said. “In recent days, there has been reason to think that this country is moving backward, that freedom has been reduced, that rights we assumed were protected are no longer.”
Apart from a deadly shooting, several hundred protesters gathered outside the Poff Federal Building in Downtown Roanoke to protest the overturning of Roe v. Wade case, US media reported. The protesters said they chose to gather on Independence Day because they felt that their rights are being taken away.
Kerrigan Williams, co-founder of Freedom Fighters D.C., helped lead a “Juliberation” march in the national’s capital. The Independence Day holiday “doesn’t really mean anything when Black people weren’t free on July 4th and those same liberties weren’t afforded to us,” Williams told USA Today.
Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old black man who was unarmed at the time he was killed last week by police in Akron, Ohio, was shot at least 60 times, authorities said over the weekend, when they released body camera footage of the shooting.
There is a severe problem of racial discrimination and injustice in the US, which refracts the US practice of injustice in the international community. How many George Floyds and Jayland Walkers will it take for the US to reflect and take action, and to cast aside its prejudice and arrogance?
A Gallop poll showed only 38 percent of US adults say they are “extremely proud” to be Americans, and the figure is the lowest in Gallup’s trend, which began in 2001. Issues like abortion, gun control, and the general bipartisan battle in the Congress are some reasons for the lower enthusiasm. In an AP-NORC survey released last week, 85 percent of the American adults say the country is heading in the wrong direction.
The festival mood was already overshadowed by surging inflation, as ordinary Americans have to spend more on a barbecue, and deeper social fissure caused by the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade.
Independence Day is often a special holiday to boost morale and national identity. But “it is hard to say whether this year’s Independence Day is the darkest in US history. It is an extremely dim one, as public anger and frustration against [the US] government’s incompetence and social problems have reached a boiling point for
Angry, frustrated teens.
The July 4 shooting was just the latest of a series of its kind to shatter American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have become killing fields in recent months. A total of 10,072 people nationwide have died due to firearms so far in 2022, Forbes reported, citing data from the Gun Violence Archive on Monday. The organization said this year’s figure could near 2021’s 20,944 deaths, a seven-year high.
Mass shooters in the US are increasingly young partly due to the country’s law, and the influence of violent, extreme content on the internet. But more importantly, the economic recession and the COVID-19 exerted a direct blow on young people, with many struggling to make ends meet.
young adults’ disappointment toward the US government was a source of their anguish, as young people are one of the major forces behind Biden’s presidential win. It turns out that Biden has done nothing to walk them out of their potholes.
A report that the Brookings published in February 2021 revealed that the unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds stands at 14.8 percent, more than double the national rate of 6.3%. A new Morning Consult poll suggested that Biden’s approval rating fell 20 percentage points among voters ages 18-34 from January 2021 to June 2022, Forbes reported last month.
Many of the American youth shouldered heavy student loans, and many graduated only to find out social mobility is shrinking, and it is hard for them to get a satisfactory job.
Then came the pandemic, the wealth gap expanded further, and people at the bottom took the heaviest blow, so that many young people tend to engage in violence and crime, after their hopes are dashed.
Experts pointed out that the backgrounds of some of the mass shooting killers are best depicted in J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, which has been on The New York Times’ bestseller list for nearly two years. The novel shows the predicament faced by white American working class, with many growing up in a world of domestic violence, teen pregnancies, alcoholism, violence, mistrust, anger, and fatalism.
“I began to see the world as Mamaw [Texas people’s way to call grandmother] did. I was scared, confused, angry, and heartbroken. I’d blame large businesses for closing shop and moving overseas, and then I’d wonder if I might have done the same thing. I’d curse our government for not helping enough, and then I’d wonder if, in its attempts to help, it actually made the problem worse,” Vance wrote.
Worse than the ‘lost generation’
The generation savaged by the pandemic, a battered economy, endless gun violence and an increasingly divided society will be a generation more terrible than the “lost generation,” a term that refers to the generation who reached adulthood during or immediately following World War I.
The lost generation, despite their aimless and reckless behavior, still harbored hopes, and they expressed their opinions by organizing protests, assemblies and other forms. Yet some Gen Zers in the US vent their anger through violence.
To commemorate the Independence Day, Biden tweeted “it’s a time to celebrate the goodness of our nation, the only nation on Earth founded based on an idea: that all people are created equal. Make no mistake, our best days still lie ahead.”
However, twitter user @emily_ladau retweeted this and commented: “Some, questions, if I may, Mr. President: What part of our nation is good? To whom was/is the idea that “all people are created equal” actually applicable? How can you possibly believe “our best days” are ahead when we’re burning ourselves to the ground?”
Experts pointed out that the Hillbilly Elegy is not just an elegy for the white American working class, it is for the country, and the Rust Belt is expanding from steel town to the whole nation in the US.
With the current generation poisoned by hopelessness, violence and extremism, the US is heading down a future of despair, and what takes the lead is the country’s failed system and incompetent government, they said.