The Culture of Death: DALLE-E 2 Generated Image

American Carnage: A Culture of Death & the Illusion of Freedom

Héctor Vila
5 min readApr 16


MIDDLEBURY — On Sunday, April 9, at 10:28 p.m, Middlebury College received a hoax call of an active shooter in the Davis Family Library.

The Davis Family Library, once a symbol of knowledge and hope, has now become a trigger — a stark reality. Let me reiterate: a library, a place meant for learning, now incites fear. As students move about the campus, a sense of darkness prevails, knowing that a potential shooter armed with an automatic weapon could strike at any moment. This unfortunate reality is a reflection of the state of affairs in America.

In the U.S., elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools are triggers; colleges and universities, banks and post offices, and yoga centers are too.

The U.S. had 647 mass shooting in 2022. In 2023, there have already been at least 146 shootings.

We live under siege, the threat of sudden gun violence at every corner. This is what a culture of death looks like — unpredictable, unprecedented carnage at every turn.

How free are we when we move about our streets and places of learning and work with the always present thought of impending doom?

This is how terror wins, and how autocracies are built.

Personally, I feel utterly overwhelmed by the pervasive violence that has infiltrated our lives, and the heartless and cowardly indifference displayed by congressional leaders who are determined to ignore the public’s demand for gun restrictions.

Cowardice is a tolerated political norm that often goes unpunished — yet another poisonous seed sown in the name of autocracy

We are beginning to understand a bleak reality: life is a commodity, its value determined by race, gender, and sexual orientation; age also determines worth, what Henry Giroux, the educator, scholar and cultural critic, calls the war on youth.

“The United States has become the wild west of violence and a signpost of the power of gun lobbies, the arms industry, and the military-industrial complex to buy off politicians in order to get their support,” writes Giroux. “Republican politicians completely ignore studies that connect the wide availability of guns to the fact that gun deaths in…



Héctor Vila

Writer & Teacher, Novelist, Essayist, & Cultural Critic, @hectorvila