Fighting Violence with Violence

Topics: United States, American Civil War, Slavery in the United States Pages: 10 (4046 words) Published: December 13, 2011
Fighting Violence with Violence
From the beginning of time conflict has always existed. When conflict is confronted, majority of the time it is answered with violence. The definition of violence from The Oxford Dictionary is "the use of force to cause injury, damage, or death." Violence can come in all forms and may or may not be intended. World history teaches that violence influences wars the most. A simple act of violence can have a big impact on people and how they react to it. Almost always when a violent act is committed it is answered with even more violence. From person to person the reason for violence will be different. Commonly it is because of revenge or anger. However that might not be true for everyone or every war. In "A People's History of the United States 1492-present" Howard Zinn explores many examples of violence through the conflicts that have occurred throughout history. The recent killing of Osama Bin Laden also brings to light that the United States will respond with any force and violence to make sure they are looked at as the strongest player. Throughout history violence has become the solution to fight violence; I will be analyzing the concept of violence vs. violence by exploring these ideas: History of violence and war, WWII, Segregation, War against Terrorist, and present day violence.

From the day Christopher Columbus stepped foot onto North American soil in 1492, United States begins a history full of war, violence, oppression, and revolt. When the Spaniards first encountered the Native Americans they were taken back with how hospitable and simple they lived. Howard Zinn writes in, A People's History of the United States 1492- Present a passage that Columbus wrote in his log:

They…brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned…they were well built, with good bodies and handsome features…They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane…They would make fine servants…with fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."(H. Zinn, Pg.1) This passage give insight to how Columbus felt, he was superior and knew with intimidation he could control the Native Americans. This case of violence vs. violence is different from many others, because as the passage says, the Native Americans were curious and friendly to strangers. They did not create any conflict and the Spaniards saw that as a weakness. Columbus and his men used violence to make the Native Americans into to their servants. This mindset continued with the Spaniards and the treatment of the Native Americans. Howard Zinn writes, " The cruel policy initiated by Columbus and pursued by his successors resulted in a compete genocide"(H.Zinn, Pg.6). The violence that Columbus inflicted on the Native Americans had no reason other than greed. The Native Americans did not show any obvious threat to the Spaniards, but they still wanted to show they could take everything the Native Americans had. The Native Americans population slowly started to die. However, as history shows, when violence is inflicted on someone and they are trapped sometimes there are no other answers but to respond with violence, and that is exactly how the Native Americans started to feel. The Native Americans felt that in order for them to survive they would have to start revolting and defending themselves. Many popular tactics that were used that was later picked up by the Spaniards and used against the Native Americans was, scalping. This act of violence is still very hard to imagine, the idea of a knife separating your scalp from your skull paints a foul image. When the first slaves where brought on a ship to North American a new group of oppressed would...

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