Those angry loner white boys with guns, this time in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, have again erupted on the body politic.
And those with eyes to see are reminded that the American culture is ill.
But what of the mass shootings in Chicago, the 55 people shot over the weekend, with seven hit near a park and then eight more not far away?
You might think these are “mass shootings” too, but, in political/media terms, they’re not treated as such. The victims, and in all likelihood the shooters, are black. And Democratic politicians find no political advantage in weaponizing the victims of everyday street violence in a Democratic town. So Chicago’s dead are stepped over by national media and national Democrats on the way to 2020.
Republicans want the focus moved from President Donald Trump and his idiotic, often incendiary tweets to the violence in Baltimore and Chicago. Presidential daughter Ivanka Trump tweeted, somewhat desperately, “We mustn’t become numb to the violence faced by inner city communities every day.”
Nice try, but she failed, and she was immediately condemned. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, under pressure to do something, anything, about the slaughter, must be thankful that the Trumps give her cover and a target for sarcasm. Lightfoot dismissed Ivanka Trump’s tweets as “nonsense.”
Babies shot in Chicago? Poor people terrorized daily? Cops and paramedics pushed to the breaking point?
They’re largely forgotten. In political terms it’s all about those white boys with their guns.
Democrats wrap them around Trump’s neck, focusing on a key voter block, suburban white women with those “Hate Has No Home Here” signs. For two years, the left and media have shrieked unproven allegations about Trump and collusion with Russia. Now that has faded, Democrats adeptly find themselves on comfortable, familiar ground: race.
The white boys are indeed domestic terrorists, some white supremacists, like the one charged with slaughtering innocents in El Paso, hating on Latin immigrants, legal and illegal, echoing Trump’s use of the word “invasion,” and writing a bizarre manifesto. “I figured that an under-prepared attack and a meh manifesto is better than attack and no manifesto,” it read.
Years ago, before Trump was elected president, there were white boys with guns too, slaughtering innocents. And those of us who made the culture argument back then, rather than advocate ripping the Second Amendment out of the Bill of Rights, were denounced, predictably, as know-nothing conservatives.
But Trump is president now, and his constantly belligerent rhetoric, used to wage war against the corrupt status quo, has given the left great license to conflate complicated issues. They see opportunity and power to be had, and before the victims from El Paso and Dayton were buried, the dead were weaponized.
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, flailing and desperate for attention, eagerly picked up on the prompts given him by former Democratic political staffers turned TV news anchors. He blamed Trump for El Paso and pronounced the president a racist. Other Democrats denounced him as well, even Sen. Bernie Sanders, the socialist of Vermont, who should know better.
Because it was also a crazy white madman who stalked those Republican Congressmen as they played baseball in a park in 2017 and tried to massacre them all with a rifle. He was a Sanders supporter and the cry went up wherever we talk politics, in the common square and in newsrooms, that blaming the left for the insane actions of an insane man would be unthinkable.
The shooter in Dayton was, reportedly, of the political left and a supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but you don’t hear much of that, do you?
In other, saner times, leveraging the political persuasions of absolute madmen against a political opponent would be a signal for a gentleman to rise from the table and leave the room without comment. But now it is the blood of our politics.
Yet whenever I feel that our politics and culture are beyond redemption, someone comes along to prove me wrong, like U.S. Army Pfc. Glendon Oakley Jr. He was at that Walmart in El Paso when the shooting began. Oakley, who has a concealed carry license, ran toward the sound of gunfire, to save as many children as he could. Later, talking about what happened, he sought to direct the media spotlight away from himself and toward the grieving families. And he began to weep.
“I want to look out to the families that were lost and families that lost their children,” he said in El Paso, “because the focus should not be on me, it should be on what happened in Ohio, and what happened in Chicago and what happened yesterday.”
John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and his Twitter handle is @john_kass.