Editorial: Why Do Young People Kill?

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One of the major columnists for The New York Times, Thomas Friedman, has argued that the massacre at Littleton High School in Colombine, Col., shocked the American public so deeply that it undermined support for the U.S. government’s war against Yugoslavia.

In the May 4 issue of the United States’ most prestigious daily, Friedman wrote: “Whatever enthusiasm existed for a ground war in Kosovo, or even the sort of intense air campaign that I have favored, has been diluted by the murders. … And people in Washington are missing something if they don’t understand that.”

It is only to be hoped that the response of the American people to the tragedy in Colombine will indeed be to reevaluate the actions of Washington’s war machine-and well as the growth of inhumanity in general in our society.

In our opinion, as the richest country in the world approaches the end of the 20th century, its society has become increasingly cynical and cruel. The streets are full of people who have been abandoned, who are dying right in public view.

Many of these unfortunates, who are among the most abject victims of the capitalist system, have become victims twice over-suffering sadistic attacks by brutalized youths and others in recent years.

And that also is a warning sign. Youths who sympathize with the Colombine killers have been quoted in the media as telling stories of constant and inhuman harassment of teenagers selected as victims by their peers.

This is hardly any wonder when popular culture, of which young people are the prime consumers, divides humanity into “winners” and “losers.” Popular culture at the end of the 20th century-as twisted by the capitalist media, advertising companies, and Hollywood-has nothing but contempt for the “losers.”

People who can remember the Great Depression, despite its hardships, often express a longing for the culture of solidarity of those days.

But today, the message being given the American people by the bombing of Yugoslavia is that the U.S. government can cold-bloodedly destroy people and a society from 15,000 feet up with super machinery. No human values matter, neither pity on the part of the attackers nor bravery on the part of the victims.

This message-if permitted to continue-points to a truly terrible future.

The Colombine killings show that it is time for Americans to think about the decline of human values and how they can be revived. It is time to think about reorganizing the economic basis of society on the basis of human values.

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