This was a tragic and bloody weekend, with mass shootings at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas (at least 20 dead at this writing) and an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio (27 injured and 9 dead), as well as widespread shootings in Chicago.
Despite all those who are denouncing the idea of prayers for the victims (do a Google search for “Thoughts and prayers are not enough” and see how many hits you get), I will continue to pray for the victims and their families and for an end to this mindless violence, and I hope you will, too. In fact, amid all the finger-pointing and blame-laying and repulsive attempts to turn these tragedies to political advantage before the bodies are even cold, I would posit that the lack of thought and prayers is probably the single biggest factor in what is behind them.
Let’s examine all the things that politicians and the media are telling us are to blame for these sickening mass killings and see if they hold up to scrutiny.
“Beto” O’Rourke immediately tried to blame President Trump for the El Paso shooting, accusing him of being an “open, avowed racist” and “white nationalist” who is inciting racism and violence. For example, he said Trump called Mexicans “rapists and criminals.” Except that Trump didn’t do that. That story has been debunked repeatedly. Trump called MS-13 gang members rapists and criminals, and that’s true. I also don’t see how someone who has repeatedly denied being racist can be an “open, avowed racist.”
Media outlets such as the A.P. and Newsweek also resurrected known fake news to push the “Trump is inciting racist violence” theme, like the claim that he said there were “fine people on both sides” of the Charlottesville riots, implying that he said there were fine people among the white supremacists. He was actually talking about both sides of the debate over removing Confederate monuments, as he made clear to a reporter at the time. I could argue that these cynical attempts to interject divisive racial motives into comments where they clearly weren’t intended are worsening race-based violence, but the people who do that never seem to notice it in themselves.
Fellow Presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar also tried to jump on the “blame Trump” bandwagon in a less incendiary way. At least she did place the responsibility where it belonged: on the shooters. Both she and “Beto” got backlash for politicizing the tragedy. But that didn’t stop gun control advocates from immediately calling for a special Senate session to pass more gun laws before they even knew whether they’d make any difference.
So, were the killings motivated by President Trump’s rhetoric? The El Paso shooter (I refuse to mention their names and glorify murderers) reportedly wrote a deranged “manifesto” in which he predicted the media would blame his actions on Trump, but he said he’d been angry over illegal immigration for years before Trump ran for office. He wanted to segregate America by race, which is something the left is bringing back. And he thought illegal immigrants were using up resources that should be spent on universal health care and a guaranteed income, hardly issues favored by Trump supporters.
As for the Dayton shooter, he reportedly described himself on Twitter as a far-left Democrat and Elizabeth Warren supporter who praised Satan, was upset by Trump’s election, and was impatient for socialism to come. Classmates described him as a bully who liked to threaten women. One of his deceased victims was his own sister.
And the tragedy that’s being largely overlooked by the media: over the weekend, 49 people were shot, six fatally, in various shootings in Chicago (Chicago gang shootings can't be blamed on Republicans, lack of gun laws or racism, so they tend to get little press coverage.)
So it seems pretty obvious that President Trump’s rhetoric was not a common denominator in the killings. They happened in a red state with fewer guns laws, a blue city/state with strict gun laws and a swing state, so gun laws weren’t the common denominator.
They happened in Republican-led Texas and in Chicago, where the last Republican mayor left office in 1931. And the shooters included a radical segregationist and a Democratic socialist, so politics wasn’t the common denominator.
They involved a shooter reportedly targeting Mexicans, a shooter who apparently targeted his sister and people at random, and young people largely committing black-on-black violence, so racism wasn’t the common denominator.
And to those who try to blame it on the killers’ tool of choice – some particular type of gun – I’d remind them that in places that banned guns, knife attacks are on the rise. Some have been stabbing rampages, leaving many dead and injured.
So what do all these attacks have in common? What has changed since the days when every pickup in my high school parking lot had a rifle rack in the back window, and nobody ever thought to shoot their classmates?
Leftists like to apply the term “toxic” to everything they don’t like. But masculinity isn’t “toxic.” What has become “toxic” is our culture.
We wonder how children could have grown up with no respect for human life. I wonder why anyone thinks they would respect the sanctity of life. They’re told from an early age that it’s a basic human right to rip a baby from its mother’s womb and dismember it for “convenience.” If anyone tries to post the words “Thou shalt not kill” in a school or other public place, there’s a lawsuit to remove it. Mass media promotes violence without consequence as entertainment. Just last week, Newsweek, the same magazine that’s trying to blame mass shootings on Trump’s rhetoric, ran a ridiculous defense of Antifa, excusing their violent tactics as simply an expression of their passionate beliefs. Punching someone for wearing a MAGA cap, or setting fire to property or bashing someone in the skull with a bike chain? Hey, man, people who disagree with me are fascists, and fascists have it coming, right?
All of this amorality and dehumanization of others is amplified by social media, where anything you disagree with is reason to make death threats (an EIGHT-YEAR-OLD child had to leave the Internet because her family received death threats, just because she was poking fun at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez…and I guarantee you those threats didn’t come from Trump supporters.) The anonymity and distance of the Internet first encouraged people to say horrible things they would never say to another person’s face…then over time, people became so disconnected from others that they started saying and doing such things to other people’s faces because they no longer even know how to relate to other human beings.
Think that’s an overstatement? A new YouGov survey found that 22% of Millennials said they have “zero friends.” Another 27% said they have “no close friends.” The younger Generation Z group wasn’t surveyed, but other polls have found they also report extreme loneliness, so I doubt the results would be much better.
The mayor of El Paso was right when he described the attack in his city as “pure evil.”
The bottom line is this: you can pass laws, blame the tools, ban free speech, point fingers and argue politics from now until doomsday. But you’ll never legislate the evil out of people’s hearts. This is never going to end until we have a reawakening of morality and values, and until kids are brought up once again to believe that we are all made in the image of God, that life is sacred and superficial differences like skin color are meaningless.
That won’t happen until we once again accept that children need to be raised by parents and guided in moral instruction, to be taught the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments, to treat each other with respect and decency, and to work and socialize together, in schools, community organizations and places of worship, not just online. They need to learn to care for each other, respect each other and watch out for each other - in person! - so that when one starts to go astray, to feel bullied or alienated, or to start down the wrong road, someone else is there to notice it and care enough to say and do something about it.
Until then, passing more laws and pointing more fingers is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. That’s why I will keep ignoring the scoffers and saying prayers and urging everyone to join together and do the same.
It’s not a meaningless gesture. It’s the only thing that’s ever really going to help.