John Muhammad is Dead. American Violence is Not.

Illustration for article titled John Muhammad is Dead. American Violence is Not.

John Allen Muhammad is dead.  It's been seven years since he and his 17-year-old accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, drove through Maryland, Virginia and D.C. shooting (and killing) innocent people.  Last night at 9:11 p.m. Muhammed, who still claimed his "innocence," was pronounced dead after lethal injection.  And honestly, I don't know what to feel.   I believe there are some people born with chemical and psychological imbalances and are, in a way, innocent in their lunacy.  I believe there are people who are a human manifestation of a society where the violent pursuit of oil, land, religious or politcal dominance, coal, and/or diamonds trumps human life 24/7.  In fact, one can't exist without the other.

I believe the John Allen Muhammads and Timothy McVeighs of the world are horrid extensions of a capitalist society some of us thrive in and others, not so much.  But with that said, I still don't know what to feel.  I never lost a family member or friend to such a violent and random attack.   A part of me believes I would have stood among the dozens of surviving relatives anxious to see Muhammad grasp for his last breath.  Another part of me believes I would mourn the loss of my loved one in solitude, but wonder if lethal injections are simply Band-Aids on a much bigger problem.  A society unable to address and correct its violent streak.

From where I sit here in Brooklyn, people are still trigger-happy.  Gun laws are becoming looser and looser.  Our youth thrive on blood-letting video games where the thrill is to kill "the innocent."  People beat each other in the heads with two by fours while others record the chaos on cellphones.


John Allen Muhammad was killed through lethal injection for his crimes (and, in a way, to provide momentary relief for family), but what about this trigger-happy, blood-hungry nation we live in?  What are we going to do about that?

Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.

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