The facts are still coming in on the mass shooting in Las Vegas. The anatomy of reporting on mass shootings depends on the perpetrator’s race. If the shooter was a white male, like Stephen Paddock, we are urged to wait for the facts. We don’t assume that mass shooting was a terrorist act when the shooter is white.
Of course, the right wing trolls and the Russian bots aren’t waiting. They’re pushing the narrative that suits their politics. They named the wrong person, circulated the wrong picture, but why let facts get in the way of a good opportunity to divide Americans further.
If the shooter is a person of color or a Muslim, the terrorism card is played quickly – way before facts emerge, way before presidential briefings. Our President will tweet or speak about how great he is before throwing some racist laden red meat to his base. The victims, if mentioned, will be an afterthought.
Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
In a tweet, Steve Kopack made similar observations about Trump’s priorities during times of unspeakable tragedy.
Tweets Trump posted on the day of the Pulse nightclub attack congratulating himself for being right vs. tweet posted today in remembrance. pic.twitter.com/MoGYsGqP7u
— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) June 12, 2017
Conversely, Trump described the Las Vegas massacre “an act of true evil.” No mention of radical domestic terrorism in his speech or his early morning tweet.
My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2017
He actually acknowledged the victims. No ego. No mention of being tough or smart. No expressed desire to ban all people of the shooter’s demographic.
Also worth noting. Trump announced he will visit Las Vegas on Wednesday – days after the massacre. And while that is warranted, compare it with his response to the devastation in Puerto Rico attacking victims and the mayor of San Juan. Waiting two weeks for a visit, that perhps would be better skipped given the President’s view that Puerto Ricans want everything done for them. visiting nearly two weeks after the fact, But one American tragedy at a time.
This isn’t going to change as a result of Las Vegas – at least not with this congress and definitely not with this president because terrorism is only terrorism when a person of color, a Muslim or both is responsible for a mass shooting. It must mean terrorism. It must mean they are part of a cell. No need to wait for facts. We “know” “they” don’t like us, our values, our flag and our confederate statues.
. If we hear one Republican acknowledge that Las Vegas was as much a terrorist act as the Pulse shooting, I will happily retract my cynicism. But here’s where I think things will go.
After the ritualistic and meaningless recitation of thoughts and prayers, we will speed past serious discussion about gun safety measures. But, there will be a vote on deregulating silencers because we really need to get on protecting hunters from hearing loss.
For all the words that will be written and said about how it should be different “this time” most of us know it won’t be. Most of us know that if Republicans can’t bring themselves to consider gun safety laws after Sandy Hook and after the June massacre, the October massacre won’t change a thing.
It means if we want a change, we need to change Congress. We need a president who always recognizes that you can’t solve a problem unless you call it by its name. Trump described this latest chapter in American terrorism as “evil” but he didn’t call it by its name. He also showed us, again, the degree of the president’s compassion is directly proportionate to the skin color.