by Gary Fouse
On Saturday, two American cities were hit with mass murder. In El Paso, a 21-year-old man named Patrick Crusius attacked a shopping area in El Paso, killing 20 people before being arrested. Later, in Dayton, Ohio, 24-year-old Connor Betts carried out a similar operation in Dayton, killing 8 including his own sister before being cut down by police.
In the first hours following each incident, the country wondered who the shooters were and their motives. First, we learned that they were both white, and the next assumption was that they were white nationalists, racists, and probably Trump supporters. In the case of El Paso, that appears to be the case. Crusius’ “manifesto” indicates he was angry about what he perceived as a “Mexican invasion”. Thus, he attacked an area heavily populated by Hispanics. His writings indicated that he had held anti-Mexican immigrant views long before Trump became president, and thus, Trump should not be blamed for his (Crusius’) actions. In short, the mainstream media and leading Democrats like Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker have not hesitated one minute before declaring Trump complicit though his tweets and populist, “racist” rhetoric. Mr Crusius may or may not be a Trump supporter, but the President is no supporter of Crusius. He has strongly condemned both shootings.
In the case of Betts, the Dayton shooter, a different picture is emerging. It appears from his online rants that Betts was anything but a Trump supporter. Back in his high school days, he was freaking out a lot of fellow students with talks of “kill lists” and “rape lists,” which led to a suspension. Rather than hating any particular ethnic groups, it appears Betts just had a problem with people in general. Politically, it appears that he is a leftist, an anarchist, a Democrat, and an (gasp) Elizabeth Warren supporter.
However, while all you have to do is turn on CNN or MSNBC to learn of Crusius’s political leanings, you have to dig a bit deeper to learn of Betts’ –like the conservative Washington Times, for example.
So here we go again. Rather than universally condemn both shooters and mourn for all the victims, we have to pick our way through the online algorithms and compare how our mainstream media reports–or underreports the two tragedies. With the Dayton shooter, we will have to watch the media and the left focus on guns while accusing Trump and the NRA of being responsible for the El Paso tragedy. Nobody will accuse Elizabeth Warren of sharing responsibility for Dayton with her own brand of populist rhetoric. It wouldn’t even occur to them. Frankly, it wouldn’t occur to me either, but herein lies the hypocrisy. While there is even more to learn about both shooters, it appears their motives were vastly different–neither justifiable. Nevertheless, we have already seen the politicization of both incidents, and it is unfortunate. We should expect more from our leaders and our media.
As a (white) conservative, I am fully prepared to admit that white nationalism is rising, and it is not healthy. In the case of El Paso, it appears to have resulted in the deaths of 20 innocent people. There are many reasons for this rise, which would be the subject for an entire separate article. But we also have a serious mental health crisis in this country that is being compounded by increasing ethnic divisions that threaten to wipe out two generations of real progress. As trite as it sounds, if there was ever a time for us to come together as Americans, now is the time. Maybe we should all lower our rhetoric, including Trump, Booker and O’Rourke.
The bottom line is this: The public has every right to know as much as possible about every mass shooting–especially as to motive. We cannot address and fix our problems if we don’t know what they are. We cannot adequately defend ourselves if we don’t know the threat. Yes, I want minorities to know if they are under threat from white racists ready to kill. We also have a right to know about groups like MS-13 and Islamic jihadists who are out for blood. It should not color anyone’s overall feelings towards those who merely share ethnicity or religion with the above groups.
In the case of the media, we have a right to expect full and honest reporting of incidents like these. Especially when it comes to motive.