U.S. Homicide Rate, Feelings Toward Government Linked


The recent spike in violent political rhetoric coupled with last week’s arrest of two men who threatened the lives of two Democratic House members has a lot of commentators worried about a surge in domestic political terrorism, says Gregory Rodriguez in the Los Angeles Times. Those fears are misplaced, says Rodriguez, not because there won’t be violence, but because politically inspired violence won’t necessarily be aimed at politicians.

Ohio State University historian Randolph Roth has published “American Homicide,” offering something like a unified theory of why Americans kill each other at such a high rate and what can be done about it. After meticulously tracing trends in violence and political power in the U.S. from colonial times to the present, Roth concludes that high homicide rates “are not determined by proximate causes such as poverty, drugs, unemployment, alcohol, race, or ethnicity, but by factors [] like the feelings that people have toward their government and the opportunities they have to earn respect without resorting to violence.”

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