Slotkin Theorizes on the Roots of U.S. Gun Culture

The Globe and Mail turned to eminent cultural historian Richard Slotkin, Richard S. Olin Professor of English and American Studies, emeritus, for a story examining the roots of violence in American culture. Citing Slotkin’s past writings, the article explains that common American folk tales about the country’s history depict “violence as essential to its manifest destiny, something that makes progress itself possible. This means the gun isn’t just a weapon, it’s a nation-building tool, like the railroad, the axe or the Pony Express. According to Slotkin, this is how that happens: ‘When history is translated into myth, the complexities of social and historical experiences are simplified and compressed into the action of representative individuals or ‘heroes.’'”