The Shooting in El Paso was not Senseless

At a news conference on Saturday, El Paso mayor Dee Margo called the mass shooting senseless. It was not. It made perfect sense.

Although there were two mass shootings over the weekend, the tragedy in El Paso is different from Dayton. It is also different from the shooting scourge that continues to plague the United States. The El Paso massacre made perfect sense.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott suggested that the shooter was sick and that better mental health was the solution to such crimes. But this particular shooter is not mentally ill. The killing made perfect sense.

There were immediate, and all-too-familiar outcries from all around the country: a need for gun control countered by tepid concern for better mental health screening. There were understandable condemnations from politicians, but some of those seemed a little too self-serving. There were promises of swift justice from law enforcement that also seemed a little too self-serving. Still, it is in the realm of justice that we need to focus our attention because the shooting in El Paso made perfect sense.

Justice in this case cannot be defined by revenge nor can it be restricted to punishment. It includes seeking and eliminating the causes and opportunities for such violence. But seeking justice is also a question of determining responsibility. And El Paso challenges our society on an entirely deeper level. Because this shooting made perfect sense.

Blaming the shooter is easy. It is also simplistic. It does not address the underlying cause that would lead someone to commit mass murder. Several editorials and opinion pieces were careful to suggest that President Trump cannot be blamed for the actions of a mass murderer. Perhaps that was the savvy thing to do. But it is dishonest. For if no one else knows the truth, Donald Trump does. This killing made perfect sense.

If someone shouts fire in a crowded theatre, and people are trampled to death in the ensuing stampede, we blame the person who shouted fire. Italy recently did just that when four men were convicted of causing the deaths of two women after they used pepper spray to start a panic in a public square where people had gathered to watch a soccer game. The men had hoped to steal wallets and cell phones as people ran for cover. The Italian justice system held them accountable for the deaths. That also made perfect sense.

Now to America. Let us put the blame for the El Paso massacre where it belongs—squarely at the feet of Donald Trump. On a daily basis he spews hatred, sows division and stokes fear. He derides, demeans and dehumanizes people of color and people whose religion is not Christian. Far from being Christian himself, he turns his back on people in need—at least people of color, in need. Only a person with no moral compass could suggest that asylum seekers are invaders.

Refugees escaping death in their own countries are not an invading army. They carry no weapons and have no desire to take over this country. They seek safety and help. Almost all are Christian, but that is of no benefit, because they are people of color and do not fit Trump’s vision (or whatever you call it) of America.

Like the criminals in Italy, Trump needs to be held accountable. Some will object that the examples are not analogous. The men in Rome intended to cause a riot. Trump did not intend to cause murder. But Trump did intend to cause fear and fuel hatred. Emboldened by presidential tweets and rallies, the shooter in El Paso used the exact same language that Trump does, referring to the refugees as invaders.

Further proof of Trump’s intention can be drawn by contrasting his formal statement about the two massacres with his daily venom. When he speaks at a rally or off the cuff to reporters he is animated and vitriolic. By contrast his formal statement was a robotic recitation of words on a teleprompter. It was about as interesting as reading the label on a can of tomato sauce and it was less than convincing. There was no feeling for the statement did not come from the heart.

Donald Trump, the very stable genius, knows what many others apparently do not. The mass shooting in El Paso was not senseless. What would be senseless would be giving Trump another four years to make a great country bad.