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A Social Volcano Ready to Erupt

Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.

The headline for the photo, printed in the Dallas Morning News, reads “Total, total chaos.” The persons at left appear to be in a mad rush to escape from a fire or some natural disaster. This would at least explain, although not justify, the pandemonium. Perhaps an apartment building caught on fire, and the unfortunate half-dressed woman in the foreground jumped out of bed to escape the danger. In the bedlam to flee the tragedy, a girl fell to the ground, and a muscled man seems to be protecting her from being trampled.

Chaos in Dallas

"Total, Total Chaos ..."  - Dallas Morning News, August 17, 2005
In fact, the stampede was not set off by a fire or natural disaster. It resulted from a used laptop sale in Richmond, Vermont. The Henrico County school district was selling 1,000 used portable computers for $50 each to the first-comers (The iBooks sell new for about $1,000). When the gates to the sale opened at 7 a.m., a mob scene ensued. The article reported:

“People threw themselves forward, screaming and pushing. A girl’s stroller was crushed in the stampede. Witnesses said an elderly man was thrown to the pavement and someone in a car tried to drive through the crowd. Seventeen persons suffered minor injuries and four required hospital treatment” (Dallas Morning News, August 17, 2005, p. 12A).

One 20-year-old young man, clearly no Southern gentleman, picked up his folding chair and used it to beat back people who tried to cut in front of him. “They were getting in front of me and I was there a lot earlier than them, so I thought that it was just,” he said without apology or regret.

Five police officers were scheduled to keep the peace, but by the end of the morning, 71 had been called in to help control the crowd.

I have only several comments to make on the scene, although I’m sure many of my readers could add others of their own.

First, this short news report reveals to me how modern man is becoming more and more nervous, prone to lose his self-control, and willing to use violence. It is hard to believe we have reached a state where men and women could become so aggressive and brutal just to get a good buy on a used laptop. If persons act this way at a sale, why should we be surprised to see the looters and criminals who appeared on the streets of New Orleans after an authentic natural disaster?

Looting n Iraq

National Catholic Reporter,   May 9, 2003
Second, clearly this is a barbarian behavior far from typifying a civilized people. It is a consequence of the abandonment of the good customs and protocol that are the characteristic fruits of Christian civilization. A society that denies those fruits and adopts the primitive habits typical of hippies and punks, admires music like rock ‘n’ roll, and heavy metal; pierces and tattoos every part of the body, sooner or later will become entirely barbarian. This small episode that took place in Virginia is just one indicator reflecting a much larger segment of the public mentality.

When Baghdad fell under the US troops in the Iraq War, there were Arab mobs looting everything in the city - including museums and libraries. I remember seeing many cartoons in our newspapers ridiculing the primitivism and anarchy of that population. Well, today in our United States of America we have similar looting. No one is laughing any longer, because everyone senses that the tide of barbarism is swelling by the day.

Third, there are persons who think that the chaos cames from the lack of police surveillance. But if we want to be honest, we should admit that part of the blame needs to be placed on our liberal behavior that allowed the cultural revolution to conquer everywhere. When 71 policemen are needed to keep shoppers from being maimed and killed at a used laptop computer sale, we can’t just blame the absence of troops for the lack of order. The root of the problem goes much deeper.

The looting in New Orleans, the small episode of violence in Henrico County, Virginia, are just two symptoms of an enormous social volcano that is ready to erupt.

Posted September 10, 2005

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