Terry H. Schwadron
Aug. 5, 2019
Can we call these shootings “domestic terrorism” now? Can we equip federal investigators with the legislative tools to go after white nationalist bank accounts, to listen into conversations, to treat domestic martial groups as we do international terrorists?
Can we now talk about banning assault-style weapons? Can we do anything?
El Paso and Dayton shootings were the 249thand 250thmass shootings this yearby young men with assault-style weapons in public places. Law enforcement authorities were following up on the specific motives, but there were early links to white nationalist, anti-immigrant hate postings on social media.
The random shootings at the Gilroy, Ca. Garlic Festival that killed two children last week already are in the rear-view mirror.
From the White House, Donald Trump tweeted consolation for an “act of cowardice” and thanks to quick police reaction. From the NRA, silence, though the group has lobbied for looser Texas gun laws. From the Democratic presidential candidates, a uniform reaction for more gun control laws.
I watched Fox & Friends for a bit yesterday. The shooting story in this particular hour followed a piece on illegal immigration. The news updates were appropriate, checking in with the mayors, with hospitals, with law enforcement, but was pretty light on anything approaching motive or discussion about anti-immigrant, “Hispanic Invasion” screeds online.
Instead, there is the usual talk about mental health, services which Republicans want to cut.
Anything but guns themselves.
Am I wrong in thinking those news decisions odd? Incomplete? Biased? Is there nothing that allows Fox, too, to draw the conclusion (or at least ask the questions) that there has been a layering of official rhetoric that has led to making anything veering from anti-immigration as seemingly unpatriotic?
It is a sickening truth that Americans, who in every poll say they favor more “sensible” gun registration, waiting periods and the rest, can’t get it. Congress in general, and Republicans in particular are dead-set against crossing the NRA and pro-gun groups.
It is more than sickening that Trump cannot see the obvious link between his increasingly racist tweets, rally calls and actions, his clear, chosen anti-immigrant rhetoric, his acts of family separation and tawdry border detentions as inflammatory to those, particularly young white nationalists who hear his words as motivation towards violence. Trump has insisted that white nationalism involves a tiny slice of the country.
I watched as Fox commentators engaged with their interview Republican guests in discussions pressing for “our” agenda, as if they were supposed to be in league together.
Christopher Wray, the FBI director, testified a week ago that white supremacists represent a significant terrorism problem. Yet Trump and Republican leadership, who are so quick to point out terrorism incidents around the world by Muslim radicals and other anti-Western rebels, simply cannot bring themselves to brand these domestic incidents by manifesto-posting white nationalists.
Where is our leadership on these matters — other than yelling for American naturalized citizens to go back where they came from?
Common sense says more gun control measures are necessary. We have more guns in circulation than numbers of people in the country. And at 250 mass shootings this year, we are showing we cannot control ourselves. Common sense says assault-style weapons should not be on the streets, never mind in the legal hands of an emotionally unbalanced 21-year-old with hate in his heart.
Moral sense says that Americans need to stop and consider what it is saying and doing. Americans need to connect the dots here. Even partisan politics can occur without calls of hate. Those posted manifestos talk about splitting up the country racially, and attacking Jews as well as Latinos and blacks. This administration that has insisted on wrapping itself in some kind of antiseptic against anti-Semitism about Israeli politics sees nothing wrong with a culture that posts attacks on Jews themselves, as well as Latinos and blacks?
We need something like an all-out campaign against gun violence, up to and including removal of at least assault-style weapons capable of shooting 35 in Dayton in under a minute. Where is the outrage about life preservation when it comes to abortion, and looking the other way when in involves shootings with semi-auto weapons?
Political sense says Americans need to reject the politics of division.