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Chances are that you or someone you know has commented recently that 2016 is turning out to be a violent or rough year.

A series of recent violent incidents in the United States and across the world include the following:

On June 28, 42 people died after terrorists launched an attack at the international airport in Istanbul. On July 5, police in Baton Rouge, La., shot and killed Alton Sterling, an unarmed black man, at point-blank range. On July 6, a police officer in a suburb of the Twin Cities shot and killed Philado Castile, an unarmed black man, during a traffic stop. The next night, on July 7, five Dallas police officers were shot dead by Micah Xavier Johnson, an Army Reserve Afghan War veteran angry over police shootings of unarmed black men. Police killed Johnson with a remote bomb. On July 14, as crowds were observing Bastille Day on the French Riviera, a man drove a truck into a crowd in Nice, France, leaving 84 people dead. On July 15, a faction of the Turkish military attempted to stage a coup. On July 17, three police officers were fatally shot in Baton Rouge, La., by a gunman who was killed by police. And on July 22, nine people died in a shooting rampage in a busy shopping area in Munich, Germany.As some believe Lenin, the Russian revolutionary, said, "There are decades where nothing happens, and weeks where decades happen."

Many of the incidents we are seeing in the United States and overseas are a reaction to domestic or world events, said Patrick Manning, president of the American Historical Association and director of the Collaborative for Historical Information and Analysis at the University of Pittsburgh. And while it cannot be tabulated, it is highly likely that incidents in one country are affecting another, Manning said.

"This is retaliatory violence that we're seeing now," Manning said, bringing up as an example the Reconstruction period in the 19th century, post slavery.

"That's the time when the Ku Klux Klan rose up in a fashion, often violently, to repress those who were following their newfound rights," Manning said. "You can sort of think of the Civil Rights Movement, a social movement where people were asserting social rights, and there was retaliation against that."

Even the current political climate and the presidential race can be considered a reaction to the Obama presidency, Manning said.

Though there is no way to tabulate it, there is a high likelihood that incidents in one place are having some effect on people in other parts of the world, and in some way contributing to more attacks, Manning and others said.

Wrote Princeton University history professor David Bell for Foreign Policy, "It is worth remembering that disruptive events can trigger others in a variety of ways, even at a great distance. Sometimes the connections are clear; sometimes much less so."

“We still do not know the full story of this year’s attempted coup in Turkey, but it is at least conceivable that the plotters were emboldened to act because of the violent events taking place elsewhere in the world,” Bell wrote.

While some might believe that the technology of current times means that people across the globe are communicating and influencing one another more often, this has happened through history too, Manning said.

In 1989, for instance, the Tiananmen Square student-led protests in Beijing were watched by the world, he said.

This is certainly not the most violent time in history, Manning said.

There were mass casualties during the Civil War from 1861 to 1865, he said. Millions lost lives during a rebellion in India at the same time by Indian soldiers against the British, he said.

But time will tell whether 2016 will register in the larger perspective of history, Bell wrote.

"With luck, the current flood tide of bad news will in fact subside, and rest of this year will be remembered for placid dullness rather than bloody 'interest,' " he wrote. "We can hope that the year 2016 will not appear in the titles of the college history courses of the future. But as these historical examples suggest, there are all too many ways that the flames of violence and disruption can suddenly spread, and even whip up into a firestorm."


©2016 USA Today Visit USA Today at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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