So the news of the day involves the recent shootings in El Paso Texas, and Dayton Ohio, one by a racist who is being connected to Trump, one in Dayton Ohio to someone who, according to several news outlets, was a leftist who apparently supported Elizabeth Warren (this has not been covered as heavily as the political connections to the El Paso Shooting), and who also apparently had connections to the incel community. Naturally we have the debate in headlines that focused on politics. Yesterday, Joe Biden claimed Trump bears responsibility for “fanning the flames of White Supremacy” but noticeably, Joe, other Democrats and left wing outlets have been unwilling to give suggest outspoken democratic party members for speech for the 2017 congressional shooting, nor does the left discuss the Southern Poverty Law Center responsibility in the same terms for the mass shooting at the Family Research Council in 2012.
These issues always bring up discussions of gun control. It has been a few years, but the last I checked, gun bans in other countries do lead to fewer gun related homicides, but the overall homicide rates tend to dip only temporarily as other methods of murder become more prominent, and other crimes, including violent offenses such as sexual assaults or other crimes against women tend to go up. The goal of this site is not to discuss politics, nor gun control, but the gun control debate does illustrate something, gun control doesn’t solve this problem because it targets means, but what is needed isn’t a discussion of means it is the root cause (Republicans can in turn be very good at distinguishing the means from the causes, but while they make the distinction, they are never seem to actually get around to discussing the causes themselves). Mass shootings are a relatively new phenomenon, at least in the current incarnation. Yes, there have been shootings with innocent bystanders for years, stemming from mob wars, where “civilians” are in the field of fire between combatants, this happened at the St. Valentine’s day massacre, or during the late 80s war between different factions of the Columbo crime family, for example. Other actions of terrorism were about maintaining political power, such as the Klan, for example, always had goals that related to political power; such as the suppression of African Americans from voting. The closest thing to mass shootings in an earlier epoch would be bombings by Vietnam War protestors, but they were (ineffectively) taking actions they thought would undermine a war or to start a Marxist revolution of the proletariat. Even the Manson family had a political motive, albeit one based in a strange, drug induced interpretation of the Beatles’ White Album.
Modern mass shootings differ in terms of motives from other types of murders; they are not about profit or power, but become instead the ultimate means of expressing anger, hatred, frustration, and depression; they are often murder/suicides, the goal being to die and take out someone in the class of people the perpetrator believes is harming him. The earliest example I am aware of concerning this modern phenomenon of mass shootings was the Texas University Sniper in the 1966, but the phenomenon started in earnest during the Columbine shootings in the 90s. The phenomenon of mass shootings is frightening, usually happening in gun free zones, but given the ease with which information can be found on the internet, if guns were outlawed, and the statistics hold true, why should we think mass shootings would not be replaced by planting bombs in public places, such as happened at the Boston Marathon?
It seems, the one thing we don’t want to consider is that cultural changes, including the abandonment of Christianity. Mass shootings are a symptom of the ways our cultural values have become defective. No one wants to phrase it this way, we would, for example, rather discuss bullying in connection with school shootings. Personally, I was the victim of extensive bullying when I was in high school, and there were times I had to deal with a great deal of anger and resentment over that bullying. But I never considered taking something like a mass shooting, which I could have accessed, and shooting my tormenters. Nor did the countless potential army of victims generated from bullying that goes back generations. But that was before we abandoned the idea that man is made in the image of God, and before the widespread impacts of moral relativism, existentialism and post-modernism. This appears to be an especially attractive offering for the post modern that finds the dream is elusive, and unreal. Incels (involuntary celibates, a term a group of men who feel despair of ever finding connections with women) are perhaps the best example of this tendency. These millennial men are finding that the post-modern dream is a nightmare for anyone who is socially awkward and not what society considers attractive, many are turning to post-modernism’s ideological cousin, nihilism, as an outlet, and the results have been devastating not only to the incel community, but to a number of women who have been injured by this community.
I’m sure the politicians will use these tragedies to their advantage; I’m sure over the weeks and months we will find further grounds for political polarization in internet echo chambers, or in political speeches; extremism always being a problem only in the other party, as the political cycle whirls in a race to the bottom. But until America begins to recognize that this is a problem built in the background of our changing cultural mores, that mass shootings and other types of political violence are not issues of party (as both parties have their rhetorical bomb throwers), then we will continue to merely look at issues of means, rather than the root problem. We should be looking in a mirror, rather than looking at a political party.