By Gail Marshall
In El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, a total of at least 31 people were murdered and dozens more were injured in back-to-back blood baths. In each case the murderer killed his victims with high-powered rifles.
In Dayton, police shot the murderer a minute after he began shooting. That minute was enough time to kill nine and injure 22 others using an AR-15-style rifle with high capacity ammunition.
In Texas, the shooting with an assault rifle occurred inside a Wal-Mart. You can open carry weapons in Wal-Mart and many other public places in Texas. You can do it in Maine too. If there is a guy with a gun in aisle five, is he just an open carry nut or the next murderer?
Why do we tolerate this?
Republican politicians, time and again, massacre after massacre, block any and all gun control legislation despite the support of a wide majority of voters. They blame everything but weapons of war in the hands of civilians, something the citizens of no other democratic nation tolerate. There are now more civilian guns than people in the US, all owned by a minority of the population.
Mental health problems and video games, the excuses perennially trotted out, exist in countries all over the world. But no one does gun slaughter like we do. We have 5 percent of the world’s population and 31 percent of the mass murderers.
We will either wrest control of our safety and well-being from gun manufacturers, their lobbyists, those who hide behind a distorted version of the Second Amendment and their beneficiaries in the Republican Party, or the slaughter of innocents will keep happening.
In the El Paso shooting there was another malevolent force at work: racism. It’s not the first time.
Donald Trump and his media influencers like FOX do more to distort reality for more people than video games will ever do. It appears the killer wrote an unhinged, racist, anti-immigrant “manifesto.”
There is very little daylight between its text, Trump tweets, and statements by people like Tucker Carlson. That racism motivated the killer, a young white man, to drive six hundred miles to target brown skins.
When Trump announced his candidacy he told us all Mexicans entering the United States were rapists and criminals. He frequently uses de-humanizing terms like “animals.”
He has made us all party to the cruel separation of young children from their parents and the warehousing of thousands of people in intentionally squalid conditions at the border.
Since May 2018, there have been 2,200 Trump Facebook ads that use the false and inflammatory term “invasion” when referring to immigrants.
In a Panama City, Fla. rally on May 8, Trump raised the idea of using weapons to repel people at the border. When a woman in the crowd shouted, “Shoot ‘em.” Trump laughed and joked. Ugly, threatening repartee is standard fare at his rallies, including those recently held in El Paso and in the Dayton region.
Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is predicated on stoking white people to racist fear, anger and violence. When he uses the old line, “I don’t have a racist bone in my body,” he’s lying.
You cannot wash the blood off his Presidency with denial, unmindfulness or wishful thinking. Supporting him will lead to further violence, hatred, and division.
We will either succumb to Trump’s vision of an enraged, violent, white ethno-nationalist state, or we will summon the courage to live in a strong pluralistic, multi-racial democratic society.
We don’t have much time left to make up our minds.
Gail Marshall is a resident of Mount Desert.