We are resilient
We are strong
We are El Paso
We stand together
These are the words from the local community living in El Paso-Texas, and these will soon become immortal to its residents and posterity. It follows the mass shooting that left 20 people dead. But on the other side of the spectrum, the usual eulogies of “our hearts go out to their families, “our prayers and thoughts are with the families” is fast becoming the mantra that follows mass shootings in America and the world today. But this is more so in America, where there is mass shooting an average of once a day; and where the right to carry weapons is enshrined in the constitution. The guns, once used for shooting and target practice are now apparently a hobby to shoot anything that has a pulse. The El Paso shooting ranks as the 8th deadliest in modern US history. But even though these massacres are broadcast for all to see, conspiracy theorists have been dismissing these unfortunate events as “false flags” that are staged by “crisis actors” and the “deep state”. Some even blame the illuminati.
In the meantime, Americans and the world have been left to make sense of it all. Many have been wondering, WHY? In a bid to fill this gap, the Commander in Chief, Donald J. Trump has come up for a lot of criticism for this. Mass shooting in the US is not a new phenomenon, but there has been a continued rise in its occurrence, and this has coincided with Trump’s tenancy in the White House. Many have placed the blame squarely on the Trump’s shoulders; and he has big shoulders to carry it. It is no secret that Trump’s presidency, though a keen golfer, has been littered with his rhetoric that drives a wedge (pardon the pun) through an already polarised American society.
He has not only created and promoted an “Us” and “Them” atmosphere, but has also tried to achieve this by weaponising race relations. The issue of race relations is nothing new. ; The freedom and founding of America was built on race. It will be disingenuous to attribute wholesale, what is happening in America today to the work of Donald Trump, and Donald Trump alone. The difference is that Trump’s rhetoric has given it the seal of approval from the highest office in the land. It is no longer shameful to be “racist”, and this is continuing world wide with the rise of nationalists worldwide.
His rhetoric about Hispanics, Muslims, other minority groups and recently, the “send them back” squad has provided the fuel for those inherently held beliefs by others. Trumps rhetoric about America being invaded by outsiders has left many white Americans fearful to extremes of paranoia. His signature “oath” to “build the wall” has left a doomsday feeling among many Americans; especially “white Americans” with the notion that it is just a matter of decades before “white Americans” become the minority in their “own” country. That is scary by any standard. So while Americans have been left scratching their heads to make sense of these senseless killings, and while the prosecutors in Texas say that “the El Paso shooting is being treated as a domestic terrorist case” and that they are “seriously considering “hate crime charges”, Trump has already diagnosed the problem and called it a “mental illness problem”, He described the shooter as “very, very seriously mentally ill”. Now, Trump is not only a psychiatrist, but also a psychic who does not even need to conduct a psychiatric assessment (Americans call it evaluation) of his patients to diagnose them.
When Trump summarily banned Muslims from certain countries entering the US, when he described Mexicans as carriers of drugs, crime and prostitution, he promised to “Build the Wall” as the answer to terrorism, among others. But it looks like he no longer needs the wall, and thanks largely to his rhetoric, America now has its very own brand of terrorism; and it is “Home-grown”. No amount of wall can stop that. Trump seems to recognise this, and tweeted that “hate has no place”. He also admitted that “perhaps more needs to be done”. Even at that, Trump is not sure; it’s “PERHAPS”. He also said that “this has been going on for years, for years and years in our country and we have to get it stopped” (I love his emphasis). If Trump wants this stopped, perhaps he needs to look out the window and realise that he some how shares similar admiration with the perpetrators, for the likes of David Duke, and “those fine people on both sides”.
But how do you solve such a problem that is fast approaching epidemic levels? First, Americans have to wake up and smell the coffee; that “enough is enough” is no longer enough. There are no prizes for guessing that each time we witness such massacres (massacres has been used deliberately here), the Second Amendment of the American Constitution is the first casualty for attack. Americans have to accept that the Second Amendment of the constitution has FAILED. The right to bear arms was supposed to protect Americans from violence, not endanger or expose them to it.
This Amendment is DNA’ed in the right to “Self –defence”, not “offence”. How can the right of one individual to self defence over ride the rights of many, to protection? Do Americans need assault rifles to protect themselves, or are they preparing for World War 3? Americans need to recognise that the environment, the status quo, and the modus operandi during which the Second Amendment was promulgated no longer portends. Americans should no longer accept to be the target practice for people who abuse their right to bear arms; at the expense of the right of others (majority) to protection. And that is the paradoxical irony that Americans continue to face and grapple with. That is the constitutional head scratcher that keeps coming back like dandruff.
Some people may call for the Second Amendment to be abolished, but the majority of peace loving Americans just wants stricter gun control; while protecting the right to bear arms (for self defence). Many just want that right to be exercised in a more sanitised fashion that would not bring the sanity of those using such rights into question or disrepute; Period. Unfortunately, any clamour for gun control is not only a vote loser but fast becoming a treasonable offence; thanks to the line backers from the National Rifle Association (NRA). The symbiotic relationship between the NRA and some of American’s law makers is unsurprisingly osmotic. It is a relationship that comes to life every four years.
But what drives people to such hate? There is received wisdom that most of these people already know the outcome of their actions which is either prion or instant death. The majority believe in the latter; and most cases their preferred option. Such a state of mind is nothing short of suicidal. Assuming that they are suicidal, do they embark on mass shootings because they want to die in a blaze of “glory”? Do they want to be seen as martyrs for their proffered cause; just like their distant cousins in the…… you know where? Assuming that they want to be remembered as such; does the press have a role to play? Should the press bestow them with anonymity instead, by not identifying them and just treating them as statistics? Should they be deprived of the oxygen for their perceived glory?
There is no doubt that Trump has become the target (pardon the pun) for criticism from people. If truth be told, Trump is not just seen as racist, but also an embodiment of the underbelly of the American society. When Trump trumpeted the notion that Barack Obama was an impostor, the Republican Party, his enablers and cohorts decidedly took the 5th Amendment; to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. But others saw Barack Obama as a symbol of “democracy perfected”.
But today, “the office of the president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron” ( H. L. Mencken- The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920). This could be one of the greatest literary predictions of our time. Don’t ever underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.
Stop Press: Trump has finally said: “US MUST CONDEMN WHITE SUPREMACY” Eureka!
Our Lives begin to End on the Day we become silent About the Things that matter. (M.L. King).