There’s a huge irony buried in the heinous and horrific mass carnage in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas. The likelihood is that many of the shooting victims were Trump supporters. This is more than speculation. The shootings did not occur in deep blue California or Massachusetts. The targets of the mass murderers were in Las Vegas at a country and western music festival. In Texas, the victims were members of a conservative, evangelical, semi-rural Baptist church in an almost exclusively white, unincorporated town. The voter demographics in Nevada and Texas are rapidly changing ― more blacks, Hispanics and younger voters, who in time could shift both states to the blue column.
But for now, the two states still track GOP and conservative, especially in small towns and areas such as Sutherland Springs. In interviews with many of the performers and participants at the country and western event in Las Vegas after the shooting, almost all said that they had been staunch opponents of tougher gun control laws, and many were gun owners. In Texas, the man who gave chase to the shooter ― and reportedly had a shootout with him ― is now being hailed as a hero. More than a few jumped in to parrot the gun control opponent’s mantra, “If only more people there had guns, then the shooter would have been stopped cold.”
So, if many of the victims of mass shootings are white, conservative, anti-gun control, and likely Trump backers, then here’s the logical question ― no, two questions ― that must be asked. Shouldn’t this spark an epiphany about loose, rampant and virtually unchecked access to guns by anyone, anywhere, anytime? The other is: Should this give some pause to Trump and the GOP to stop cavalierly branding and dismissing these shooters as kooks, cranks and chronic malcontents?
The brutal reality in trying to answer both questions is that the people being mass murdered now are the very people who Trump and the GOP routinely court every election and depend on to maintain their iron grip on state legislatures, governorships and the House. Aren’t they the voter demographic that Trump furiously courted during the 2016 presidential election and that he banked on to put him in the Oval Office? And, by and large, they did.
Trump and the GOP haven’t ― and won’t ― connect the dots on the shootings and the victims to themselves, because they don’t see the shooters as one of them. They are nut cases or, to be more pseudo-scientific, they have “mental issues.” They are grotesque, monstrous aberrations who are so far out of the pale of normal society they can be neatly categorized and swiftly marginalized.
This is a major reason these shooters are never banded as domestic terrorists, a label that’s almost exclusively reserved for, and quickly slapped on, Muslims who commit a terror act in the U.S. If so, it would put them back in the ranks of those who are red-blooded, born in America, patriotic Americans. A rigid separation must be made between the mass murderers and their victims to salve the conscience of Trump and the GOP that they are not one of us.
The other problem is race. The majority of the victims in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs were white, as were their killers. This simply doesn’t fit the ingrained stereotype of who commits murder and mayhem in America, including serial murders and mass terror slaughter. The perps are almost universally viewed, endlessly played up in the media and mass warehoused in jails and prisons as young blacks, Hispanics, and now Muslims. To admit that mass murderers can be white and made in America would require Trump and the GOP to turn the mirror on themselves and frankly admit that people who share their values, views and even politics are also capable of committing atrocious acts of terror.
It would require a sea change by NRA that has held Congress virtually hostage with its money, power and massive membership to torpedo even the most innocuous and tepid gun control legislation. The organization would have to admit the dire peril that unchecked gun access poses to many of its own constituents.
For now, this is all fantasy land hope. It’s just easier for Trump and the GOP to point a damning finger at Muslims, blacks and Hispanics as the only real terror threat in America. This doesn’t require any need to justify why they aren’t doing more than just offering prayers and thoughts to the victims and cursing the shooters as nut cases to back even the most minimal gun control restrictions. And to warn that mass murderers aren’t only in ISIS land but can be the neighbor next door. This gross failure to do this, though, will be no consolation to the victims of the almost inevitable next mass shooting ― no matter how many of them are Trump backers.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is an associate editor of New America Media. His latest book is, The impeachment of President Trump? (Amazon Kindle) will be released in August. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.