Saturday, 22 people were killed in El Paso, Texas, previously one of the safest cities in the U. S.. In Dayton, Ohio⎼ nine dead. The previous Saturday, in Gilroy, California, 3 dead. According to the New York Times, there have been 32 different incidents of mass shootings this year. According to the Gun Violence Archive, in the last 216 days, 251 people were killed in incidents of mass shootings.
And who are the people doing this killing? In most cases, at least the ones with hate as a motive, it is white men. According to the Mother Jones archive, of the last 22 mass shootings, 21 were by men, 13 were definably white. According to the New York Times, the El Paso murderer considered Hispanic immigrants a threat to whites. He joins a long line of white nationalist murderers, from El Paso and Dayton, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Christchurch, New Zealand, Munich, Germany, and Norway.
But who is responsible for fueling this increase of hate? One obvious answer, in the US, is the President who speaks with hate and incites it. He called immigrants and asylum seekers at our border an invasion, of rapists and criminals, and just recently attacked an American city as a “disgusting, rat infested, mess” and attacked the African-American Democratic Congressman from that city. According to an analysis by the Washington Post, in 2016 counties in the US that held T rallies experienced a 226% increase in hate crimes compared to counties that held no such rally.
According to the manifesto of the shooter in El Paso, Texas, he was not originally inspired by the President’s rhetoric; but since his language mirrors the president’s, he was emboldened by it. According to the Intercept and other sources, so was Cesar Sayoc, the MAGABomber, and the Neo Nazis murderer of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, etc. Many Democrats, including Beto O’Rourke and Bernie Sanders, have laid some blame clearly on the President. 2016 was the only year on record before 2019 with more domestic mass shooting deaths than days and 2019 is on track to eclipse 2016 by far.
The other fuel for hate is greed and money. The people who have been killed are the victims not only of hate being used to gain political power, but of too much money in politics. The Citizens United Supreme Court decision of 2010 allowed corporations and unions to spend freely on elections, and reinforced the fiction of corporate personhood. It released corporations and the super-rich from most restrictions on the buying of politicians. It said that corporations, like people, have the right of free speech. And making political contributions was a form of protected speech, not to be restricted.
Combine this with the increasing concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands and you have a Congress incapable of governing and enacting laws to protect our nation. America’s wealthiest 20 people own more wealth than the bottom half the population, own more than 152,000,000 people combined. This great wealth gives a few people the means to out speak thousands, even millions, of voters.
Hate and money are fueling what Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg called a national security emergency. Another Presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren, spoke about gun manufacturers owning Washington. But it is not just the NRA and gun manufacturers whose unfettered lust for great profits contributes to hundreds of American lives lost each year. The concentration of wealth and the power it bestows on a few people is killing us and undermining any chance of democracy.
And then there’s climate change, also exacerbated by the ignorance of consequences caused by the lust for profit and leading not only to the loss of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in economic losses, but an existential threat to human civilization.
In order to save our nation (and world), end the violence and the social disintegration it can cause, and create an economy and political system “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” we must begin by demanding that our politicians work to control gun violence and limit the power of money in politics. Then we can work on hate and on more systemic changes.
When so much goes to so few the rest feel ⎼ and are ⎼ excluded, whether we understand what is happening or not. Democrats will only win when they speak to these realities, and the fears and outrage they cause, in a way most can understand. They must counter the fear with hope grounded in a sincere concern and understanding of others and the threats we face. This is how they, or we, win the next election and expel hate from office.
Previously Published on irarabois.com
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