American violence in the time of coronavirus

American violence in the time of coronavirus

Lauren Crow/High Country News In both An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States and Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz digs into the roots of violence buried deep within the country’s history. From the election of Donald Trump to the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, American violence has been on unprecedented display. The pandemic has likewise exposed some of the nation’s starkest disparities, not only in justice and health-related issues, but also along racial and class divides. Now, as states consider relaxing stay-at-home orders in response to the economic crisis health restrictions have led to, the country is witnessing the armed occupation of state capitals, emotionally charged protests and the outright denunciation of science and research. Dunbar-Ortiz helps put these contemporary events in a historical context. “The United States was founded as a capitalist state and an empire on conquered land, with capital in the form of slaves,” she writes in Loaded , as she traces violence from the nation’s founding to today. “The capitalist firearms industry was among the first successful corporations. Gun proliferation and gun violence today are among its legacies.” This legacy helps explain American gun culture and the conspicuous display of firearms at the COVID-19 “reopen” protests. High Country News recently spoke with Dunbar-Ortiz about what these events have to say about the nation’s propensity for violence, tolerance of white supremacy and the push for profits over the health of the populace. The following conversation has been edited for length. […]

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