First, there was a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. The media quickly identified the suspect as an alt-right, white supremacist - radicalized on the 8chan online forum. He left behind written ramblings which were immediately weaponized against President Donald Trump, Republicans, and conservatives, in general.
Social media was packed with blame heaped upon half the US population.
Media personalities from all over the planet parachuted into El Paso in an attempt to conduct their live broadcasts from as close as possible to the murder scene without literally standing on the bodies. They came to amplify the left's message of blame against their political opponents.
Yes. We noticed.
But then another mass shooting occurred.
This time it was in Ohio. And just like the cowardly slugs who murder innocents in their impotent attempts to achieve anything in their own life, the Ohio shooter left written ramblings.
Media calls these illogical and infantile screeds a "manifesto" -- which is overly generous to the stunted minds that strung together the sentences.
In this case, the Ohio shooter's blog-post-posing-as-an-excuse was obviously drawing on leftist rhetoric.
Think: less Richard Spencer and more The Squad.
The coverage has been... different.
Yes. We noticed that, too.
Eric Erickson at The Resurgent writes about how our society is not equipped to address the true scope of the problem:
Those on the right view all of this as built on a foundation of moral rot and those on the left who have replaced faith with politics for their religion view all of this as built on a foundation of political rot. The left will entertain no conversation without directly connecting it to the politics of the day and the right will entertain no conversation without directly connecting it to the morals of the day. The media, so dominated by leftwing groupthink, cannot undertake rational discussions and coverage of these shootings without raw politics being their preferred angle.Until we have better, deeper conversations that recognize morality, culture, and politics all weave into this problem and not just politics alone, nothing will change.
Citing the Dayton shooting is not an attempt to justify, rationalize, or deflect away from the El Paso shooting. It's actually the whole point. It's a critical explanation of how our culture responds to mass shootings.
I know that Democrats will not believe this, but many folks on the right believe you amplify horror in order to advance the agenda of gun control - that you use tragedy in order to smear political opponents in an attempt to clear the field for passage of that agenda.
What's happening in America right now is cultural. It's not about guns. It's about how we are living and what our society values. As Kevin Williamson described it to today on the Glenn Beck show: "The only thing worth having is someone else's attention." We're prolonging childhood, avoiding responsibility, and then blaming "the other" for why we're not more successful. He said technology is moving us farther apart from other human beings, prompting us to search for connections elsewhere.
Which echoes two important pieces everyone actually interested in trying to understand the rise of mass shootings should read.
The first is from Tom Nichols, called "The Revenge of the Lost Boys."
The second is from Malcolm Gladwell, called "How School Shootings Spread."
Identity politics is driving a rise in white nationalism
Again - I understand that my friends on the left won't believe this, but casting every racial, religious, and ethnic group as a victim of white men incentives everyone to adopt that worldview. Including white men.
When the cultural and societal leaders determine that everyone is to be measured based on these characteristics, it should not be surprising when that standard is adopted by the society. Conservatives have been warning about this danger for a very long time.
Many on the left and in the media believe "alt-right" and "conservative" are synonyms. They are not. Which is why conservatives are offended and repulsed by demands that they denounce and disavow the alt-right.
The alt-right is an identity movement. It's more leftist than most want to admit.
Jeff Goldstein wrote about this in 2016, calling it "the same anti-individualist, identitarian collectivism we’ve always seen, only with a label change":
[We need to] recognize this cancer is not necessarily isolated within a given political party. It is opportunistic: in the ’60s, it infiltrated the “bourgeois” Democratic Party the cultural Marxists despised to become the New Left that today controls many of our institutions. As it did so, this long march created a counter-trend we now see bubbling up through cracks in our national foundation.
This counter-trend, make no mistake, is every bit as identitarian as anything Edward Said ever wrote, and just as toxic. Said enormously influenced Western academics. HisOrientalismlaid out the case for identity politics, declaring who controls particular group narratives and how, and who and what comes to count as “authentic” and thus permitted to represent a given identity group and its (collectivist) narrative. Identity politics necessarily brackets and minimizes individualism. As with much the Left does, it remains policed by a kind of mob shaming and an enforced intellectual correctness that is linguistically incoherent.
Unfortunately, this same set of core beliefs is now ascendant on a vocal part of the self-described “Right.”
David French at National Review wants the US to "declare war" on white nationalist terrorism.
The editors recommend going after the slugs on the 8chan forum for inciting and radicalizing terrorists:
Simultaneously, the president should work with Congress to devote more resources to infiltrating, tracking, and foiling nascent plots (during the 1940s, the KKK was partly destroyed by a radio show that weaponized insider information against it), and he should instruct the federal government to initiate an information campaign against white-supremacist violence in much the same way as it has conducted crusades against drunk driving, human trafficking, and domestic violence. Just as the government must not react to these incidents by abridging the Second Amendment or the Fourth Amendment, obviously the First Amendment’s crucial protections must also remain intact. But where action is consistent with the law — there is no prohibition on monitoring hotbeds of radicalism, nor against punishing those who plan or incite violence — it must be vigorously taken.
Maybe I'm just a pessimist, but it doesn't appear that our media, our leaders, or our society is equipped to examine (let alone address) the complexity of why we have two generations of Americans alienated from their country and their fellow citizens.