|© RICHARD CODOR|
America's beyond sick gun addiction crossed a new threshold this weekend. The question is no longer whether meaningful gun-control legislation will be enacted, because it will not no matter how immense the carnage becomes. The question is no longer how Donald Trump will respond to the latest massacres, because he already has with predictable platitudes and empty promises. The question is whether he is contributing to the carnage, and the answer unequivocally is that he is.
Mass shootings by lone gunmen armed with legally purchased military-style assault rifles with large-capacity magazines, the acts of domestic terrorism we refuse to call by that name while shadow boxing with Islamic extremists abroad, long predated Trump's ascendancy. As did racism and anti-immigrant nationalism in all its virulent forms. Latinos and other people of color escaping poverty, gangs and political oppression for a piece of the American dream are only the latest targets.
But never has a president, in shattering yet another norm, openly advocated sending non-white immigrants back to their homelands as part of a reelection strategy centered on the wholesale demonization of minorities.
Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old white supremacist was listening. He dutifully responded by dispatching 22 people, most of them Latinos and eight of them Mexican citizens, back to their homelands while wounding 23 more at a crowded El Paso Walmart store on Saturday with a legally-purchased semi-automatic version of the fabled AK47 assault rifle.
The deaths of nine people and wounding of 37 others 13 hours later in a trendy nightlife district in Dayton, including the sister of 24-year old Connor Betts, who was packing a high-powered long rifle with a 100-round magazine before he was killed by police, merely confirmed that mass murders will continue unabated as politicians, most but not all of them Republicans, snuffle among the body bags looking for dialogue-suffocating substitutes for the kind of broad gun control measures that activists and many Democrats have sought in vain for years, as well as defending their gross misreading of the Second Amendment.
Trump, responding to the back-to-back killings while playing the part of the arsonist who condemns the inferno he started, feigned horror over racism and white supremacy while blaming the time-honored Republican culprits of mental illness, violence in the media and in video games for the attacks -- anything but guns and his own words -- which was ballsy by even his own subterranean standards because moments earlier he had suggested tying any new gun laws to immigration legislation.
(Talking Points Memo has found some two dozen cases, including El Paso, where the perpetrators or planners of far-right violence invoked Trump during their assault or claimed the violent action they intended to commit was aligned with his agenda.)
"This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas," a manifesto believed to have been written by Crusius reads in what is unmistakably a response to Trump's repeated warnings that the homeland is under attack by immigrants heading for the Southern border.
"You look at what is marching up, that is an invasion!" Trump declared at one campaign rally. "That is an invasion!" The choruses of "Send them back!" at recent rallies, chanted with Trump's smirking acquiescence, are the horrifying if predictable response.
Crusius then coolly describes his preferences of weapons and ammo, politics, economics and his racist philosophy: Killing Hispanics will stop immigrants from coming and drive citizens to leave. "I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by invasion."
In the face of the latest horrors, we already are forgetting that on July 21, Santino William Legan, a 19-year-old who shared the white supremacist views espoused by Crusius, killed three people and wounded 13 at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California with a legally-purchased semi-automatic rifle before police killed him.
The Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton massacres were the 21st, 22nd and 23rd instances this year of sickos exercising their Second Amendment freedoms. There have been 114 mass shootings since 1982, according to Mother Jones's open-source database, while the five deadliest have occurred since 2007.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose "Moscow Mitch" moniker appropriately has been supplanted by "Massacre Mitch," keeps blocking gun-control legislation in the Senate that had passed the House by wide margins. If enacted, the legislation would result in the largest expansion of the background check system for gun purchases since it was created 25 years ago.
What more is there left to say? That America doesn't have a monopoly on hate, but unlike other countries has a mind-boggling 270 million guns? That we are in a moral and political crisis not seen since the Civil War? That evil has gone viral? That the president of the United States is leading the charge?
After that, there indeed is nothing left to say.