A recent article in The Nation, appearing not long after the horrible killings in San Bernardino, contained some interesting facts and observations about mass shootings and access to guns. But they were negated by its headline, “America Is Fine With Mass Shootings—as Long as They’re Not Perpetrated by Muslims,” which is then repeated almost word for word in the final paragraph.
But one has to ask, where’s the evidence for such a claim?
Were Americans “fine” with the mass shootings at the elementary school in Sandy Hook, or the African American church in Charleston, South Carolina? At the Planned Parenthood in Colorado? Hundreds of candlelight vigils took place the day after Sandy Hook. Confederate flags were taken down across the South in the wake of the Charleston massacre. And people mourned the victims in Colorado and came to the defense of Planned Parenthood, which has been in the cross hairs of right wing attacks for some time.
Each time innocent people have been killed in these awful shootings, grief has been widespread, commonplace, palpable. Public opinion polls consistently show broad support for sensible gun control legislation, and it’s the gun lobby and the Republican stranglehold on Congress that prevent its passage.
Random violence against innocent people, no matter who pulls the trigger, causes anguish and evokes empathy from nearly all Americans. How could it not? Life is precious and when it ends prematurely, violently, and senselessly, the people left behind grieve. To suggest otherwise as that headline does is simply wrong.
If mass shootings by a Muslim(s) cause greater public fear and unease, there are reasons: media coverage of the unending violence and rise of ISIS in the Middle East, racism, islamophobia, and the irresponsible – I want to say criminal – way that the Republican Party and its presidential candidates exploit people’s understandable anxieties and stoke anti-Muslim hatred.
But for anyone to infer from this that many Americans are therefore indifferent to massacres (or gun violence of any kind) committed by non-Muslims, is an inference that has no foundation or logic.
It’s also disturbing that an article with this headline (and conclusion) would appear in the Nation. For it suggests on its face anyway that the editors of this important publication are out of touch with the American people, whose consciousness, while complicated and contradictory, includes a basic decency and compassion.
Social change in the most powerful capitalist country in the world is hard enough. But it becomes much more difficult if its advocates aren’t convinced of that. I gotta think that deadline pressures or some such thing explains this slip.
We shouldn’t shortchange the American people.