More mass shootings – blah, blah, blah

mass shootings

Please forgive me if my headline seems glib or insensitive. It’s just my way of decrying the utterly useless way we – especially police, politicians, and journalists – continually respond to these mass shootings.

That said, President Donald Trump is providing friendless, deranged, and all-too-easily misguided White men this raison d’etre (or reason for dying, as the case might be). Whatever screed they might find on the “dark web” only gives them inspiration to perpetrate these massacres. 

The budding White nationalist who perpetrated the El Paso massacre bragged that he was trying to kill as many Mexicans as possible – “to remove the threat” of immigrant voters. The direct link between that and Trump’s open and notorious anti-immigrant rhetoric is undeniable. 

After all, Trump has spent the last three years demonizing Mexican immigrants as “murderers,” “rapists,” and crime-infecting invaders. This is why his rhetoric is positively deadly compared even with that of the fool who shouts fire in a crowded theatre. 

Insane GOP 

Meanwhile, nothing validates the Albert Einsteinian definition of insanity more than the all-talk, no-action way politicians respond to these massacres. 

What can be more insane than Republicans spouting National Rifle Association marketing propaganda – notably that every American has the constitutional right to purchase military-style weapons? Especially when those weapons carry high-capacity magazines, which are designed solely to kill as many people as possible. 

It has been self-evident for years that the “NRA Cares No More about Gun Violence than Drug Cartels Do,” as I posted on June 17, 2014. 

Yet, Republicans remain so beholden to or afraid of its political influence, they have steadfastly heeded NRA standing orders to torpedo any gun control legislation. This includes legislation to ban assault weapons, mandate universal background checks, or confiscate weapons from unstable relatives and friends (“red-flag laws”) – all of which enjoy considerable public support. 

The real terrorists 

Note that domestic White nationalist terrorists kill many more Americans than foreign Islamic-jihad terrorists. From the Washington Post on July 23, 2019: 

“FBI Director Christopher A. Wray told lawmakers Tuesday that the bureau has recorded about 100 arrests of domestic terrorism suspects in the past nine months and that most investigations of that kind involve some form of White supremacy.” 

Yet laws to combat Islamic jihadis are much more comprehensive and effective than laws to combat White nationalists. 

Hell, despite the terror they reign, Trump insists that White nationalists pose only a marginal threat to safety in America. Instead, he would have you believe that Black and Brown members of Congress like Rep. Elijah Cummings and “the Squad,” who dare to criticize his racist and xenophobic policies, pose a far greater threat.

In other words, Trump refuses to call out radical White-nationalist terrorists by their name. The hypocrisy inherent in this is noteworthy even for a preternatural hypocrite like him. 

Remember this?

Recall how he berated Obama for refusing to call out radical Islamic-jihadi terrorists by their name. From CNN on June 4, 2016: 

“Trump … repeated the charge that Democrats’ reluctance to say ‘radical Islamic terror’ was hampering efforts to combat terror. 

“‘The first thing you need is a president that will mention the problem. And he won’t even mention what the problem is,’ Trump said. ‘Unless you’re going to say that, you’re never going to solve it.’” 

Normal events 

Like roadside bombings in Iraq at the height of that ongoing war, mass shootings have become normalized in America. This in part is why I am keen to avoid feeding too much into the blah, blah, blah I’ve been decrying for years. 

But I’d be remiss not to mention the media’s complicity. News channels across the spectrum invariably cover mass shootings like natural disasters – complete with doomsday music, heart-rending chyrons, and eyewitness interviews, all of which they know will keep viewers watching like rubberneckers gawking at a car wreck.

Nothing is more infuriating in this respect than journalists scavenging through the lunatic ‘manifestos’ of these shooters for insights. Anyone would be hardpressed to cite a single case where doing so prevented another mass shooting. 

Psychotic killers rewarded 

But I’ve already written too much about this factor going back to “Massacre in Omaha” posted December 7, 2007, which includes this abiding lament: 

I don’t know why the media always reward these psychotic people by giving them the fame they covet; that is, by plastering their pathetic mugs all over television and on the front page of every major newspaper … worldwide, and reporting pop psychology about why and how they did their dastardly deeds. Isn’t it clear to see, especially in this age of instant celebrity, why some loser would find this route to infamy irresistible?

You’d think that – given the record of these psychotic and vainglorious episodes since Columbine – we would have figured out by now that the best way to discourage them is by focusing our attention on the victims and limiting what we say about the shooter to: May God have mercy on your soul as you burn in hell! 

CNN is patting itself on the back for finally declaring that it will no longer mention the name or show the face of these domestic terrorists –far too belated, but I commend CNN. 

Until the next one, then. But God help us if a Mexican or Muslim is ever the perpetrator. The situational, discriminating outrage would be such that Trump might even threaten to invade Mexico or one of the countries on his Muslim-ban list, respectively.

Retaliation is coming 

I reiterate my fear that it’s only a matter of time before these White nationalists trigger in-kind retaliation by Blacks, Hispanics, and Muslims. We bemoan the political tribalism between Republicans and Democrats. But such racial warfare would make that tribalism seem quaint. 

Far wiser men than me have observed that only a thin veneer of civilization is preventing mankind from our natural state of war of all against all. So, when you couple Trump’s fracturing of the United States (by demeaning the diversity that has been its strength) with his fracturing of the world order (by normalizing dictators and undermining or withdrawing the United States from international alliances, organizations, treaties, and agreements), it’s easy to see how that veneer can become a mirage. 

World War II was catastrophic. But World War III would surely be the end of the world as we know it.

Anthony L. Hall is a native of The Bahamas with an international law practice in Washington, D.C. Read his columns and daily weblog at


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