This is beyond guns and racism. This is guns and racism put into action. Perhaps not yet fully-coordinated, but planned, organized and methodized.
We have written a lot about guns, a lot about racism. We are not going to write about that today. We don’t intend to single Bloomberg out here because many others are doing similar, but their headline “Twin Mass Shootings Turn U.S. Focus to Gun Control, Racism”, is just so enragingly misguided. Those remain problems. But we are so way past that now, and probably already were.
We’ve read many, many “who’s to blame?” articles and opinion pieces in the hours since the horrific, premeditated attack in El Paso, Texas, in which 20 people were killed, (and a later deadly attack on a crowd of people in Dayton, Ohio). And seen even more Tweets and posts from by people eager to tell us that this “isn’t really about X, it’s really about Y”. (For instance, isn’t really about mental health, it’s about guns. Or isn’t really about guns, it’s about mental health). All the same stuff we always read and see and hear after one of these increasingly frequent deadly attacks, and nothing ever gets done about.
We think this time it’s different, and so the conversation needs to be different. Because we do not think any reasonable person can walk away from this weekend chalking up the latest in an increasingly frequent series of deadly shootings to the isolated, tragic actions of a mentally unstable “lone wolf”. He was methodical. 21-year-old Patrick Crusius seems to have driven almost 700 miles from his home to El Paso, which is a border town, in order to carry out his attacks aimed at the “Hispanic invasion of Texas”, in his words. And even if he did the shooting alone, he had plenty of direct and indirect support.
We’ve been thinking the actions and words of the alleged shooter in this case remind us a lot of the rhetoric and actions of ISIS recruits, or the young men who participated in the terrorist attacks on Mumbai, India several years ago.
And then we came across this, from former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who writes:
“Killing random civilians to spread a political message is terrorism. FBI classifies it as domestic terrorism, but “white terrorism” is more precise. Many of the killers are lone-wolf losers indoctrinated to hate through the internet, just like Islamic terrorists.”
In the cases of ISIS and Mumbai, we remember listening to many experts smugly concluding those young recruits were so easily persuaded to commit horrible mass-murders because they had no future, saw no future: were living in poverty with no prospect of any kind of a job or opportunity, and thus had nothing to lose. Leaving out the fact while that might’ve been true, they might also have truly believed they were sacrificing themselves for their race and religion and way of life.
No, the shooter in Texas was not in constant contact with any “puppet masters” as the Mumbai attackers were, or constantly being trained and drilled and rehearsed like ISIS recruits. But encouraging voices providing detailed instruction were all over the place, loud and clear on message boards and in repeated public statements.
The methods of indoctrination are strikingly similar. And while the huge recruitment efforts undertaken by some of these other terrorist organizations seem absent here, it may be because they hardly seem necessary. These guys are stepping right up.
Which is partly why the President’s initial response really infuriates us, because it’s so measured for someone who is famous for being not restrained with his Tweets.
And—to us at least—this shows no leadership, at a time when less carefully chosen, more forceful words might really have helped. Even if they had nothing to do with guns or racism (or something he might’ve said maybe being misinterpreted). After all, he is everybody’s President in this country. (Forget about taking responsibility: that’ll never happen and instantly becomes an endless partisan debate.) Just leadership in a times of huge crisis. Is that too much to ask?
Trump Retweets a story from USA Today about his Tweet of “support and sympathy”. He also crashes another wedding party at his New Jersey golf club where he’s spending the weekend and takes photos with the bride and groom. He promises a statement at 10 A.M. Monday.
The response from one of Texas’ own Republican Senators might be even lamer:
That’s why what Rosenstein and other powerful Conservatives said and shared and Tweeted became so important. Including George W. Bush’s nephew, George P. Bush, who is the current Texas Land Commissioner. He Tweets:
And by the end of the day, a day later, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas said the government is now treating the attack as an act of “domestic terrorism.” And are “seriously considering” adding hate crime charges
The best and most disturbing story we’ve read all weekend is from the well-reputed citizens’ journalism group bellingcat.com. It provides what amounts to an extensive forensic analysis of what the shooter probably or almost definitely wrote and saw and heard prior to his attack, and where his influences lay. In many ways, this is all speculative, because it’s hard to know which screeds and goads and prompts are actually what got his plan into motion, since we really can’t get into his mind, and may never be able to even though he was captured alive. For the simple reason that anything he says, or leaks out about what he’s said, from here on out will be instantly and forever politicized.
We also share this with hesitation and great caution, because in tracing his steps back, the group is also laying out many of the same materials that inspired this shooter, which could inspire someone else, or at least make it much easier and take less time to find, even though it’s still out there anyway. It’s also hard to tell just how big the groups are, or who is behind them and how much power and money they actually have.
Ultimately we decided to share because calling attention to the fact of just how damn frighteningly calculated, considered, deliberate, premeditated this type of deadly attack has become in America, is the most important thing at least on this one weekend.