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A Hypothesis

I hear the news about the terrible mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, at a Fourth of July parade. And I think all the usual thoughts about how awful this is: people take their children out to a nice parade, and then some insane man of 20 or so tries to kill as many of them as he can, and actually gets away for a few hours. And I think of all the literal tragedies, and also how many people will be forever traumatized by this.

I thought about guns, and virtually nonexistent gun laws, and the NRA, and the whole dreadful reality of this.. And then I had a thought, that if some of the victims of these daily shootings were right-wing people, people who fetishized guns, and wanted everyone to have the ability to purchase and walk around with as many guns as they wanted, maybe this might cause a few people to change their minds, particularly in Congress?

And I was not hoping that these would be some of the victims, I was just playing it out in my head, wondering if the absolutely reflexive response from the Right, to support more guns; to say that it wasn’t the guns that were the problem, it was the unlocked door, the open stairwell, the teacher, the police officer; to somehow try to blame the whole thing on liberalism, wokeness, whatever their hated thing is, would somehow change if they were actually some of the victims? And then I thought, “But they are not.”

I have not studied the lists of the people killed in Buffalo, or Pulse Nightclub, or Tree of Life Synagogue, or Uvalde, or Las Vegas, or the other scenes of mass shooting. I don’t know what political persuasion or lifestyles the victims had. But we must note that almost all of these have occurred where it was far more likely that minorities of different types would be the ones shot. There may be exceptions to this, but it does seem to be the rule.

I am guessing that we will learn that the killer in Highland Park, Illinois, was targeting Jewish people. It is an affluent suburb, described as “heavily populated by Jewish people.” Now, did this gunman just happen to be a deranged sociopath who felt like shooting people on the Fourth of July? Was he angry at a teacher, or a classmate, or someone he worked with? Possibly, but I am speculating that he wanted to kill Jewish people. It is said that he shot children, and elderly people, apparently anyone he could aim at. He was not aiming at one or two people, he wanted mass carnage. And I will further guess that the majority of victims, killed and wounded, were Jewish. We will see, but will the media follow this part, or lose interest?

We know that a gunman went into a Black church and was unquestionably trying to kill Black people. We know that a gunman went into a synagogue and killed Jewish people. A man went into a nightclub in Florida and was trying to kill gay people. The children killed in Uvalde were Hispanic

I do not have nearly enough data to make a conclusion. Somehow after the agony of the first day’s stories, the media seems to lose interest in discussing “motive.” Maybe the FBI follows up, but very possibly, after the shooter is killed, or even if he is arrested, the motive aspect is put aside. So admittedly without concrete numbers, I am only speculating, that the number of Straight White Christian males who were victims in these many shootings, is a good deal below the demographic percentages.

I will further speculate that in many cases, the shooter was largely or partially motivated by hatred of minority people; one group, or many. And I wonder, what with all this social media, all these groups and chat rooms we hear about which are spewing hate and violence, if there is more of a group aspect to these killings than the “disturbed lone shooter” image that is usually portrayed.

This is not to say that the ultimate shooter in these events has worked together with others to plan the killings, though that is certainly possible. But how fanciful is it to imagine that some of the online conversations are about hatred of Blacks, Jewish people, Latinos, Gays, and that some people are thus virtually, if not literally, guided to their appointment with murder?

It is just too coincidental that these killings often take place in sites frequented or resided in by minorities. Do you remember the chant of “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville? When I first heard about that, I did not understand why these White Supremacists would be afraid of Jewish people taking their jobs. But then I learned that this chant came from an insane, Nazi-based “Great Replacement Theory,” where Jewish people were imagined as trying to bring in Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities to take the jobs.

The malevolent “genius” of this theory is that it allows the Nazis to hate the ethnic minorities, and see “the Jews” as the shadowy figure behind it all. This was essentially what Hitler and Goebbels used to build hatred of Jewish people. It is is almost incomprehensible that Fox Network allows Tucker Carlson and others to get on the air and mimic those two figures of ultimate evil, apparently to the same ends.

So is that part of the plan, even if “the plan” is only more hinted at, more backdrop, than written out where it could be traced by law enforcement? Just keep fomenting hatred of Blacks, Jews, and other minority groups, and lead the online followers to develop such insane fear and animosity, that at least a few of them will turn into triggered killers.

This is “The Manchurian Candidate” without the direct brainwashing, and the solitaire game. This is mass brainwashing without the dramatic embellishments. Play on the anger, loneliness, and fear of young White men; teach them how wonderful guns are, how much of a sense of power it gives one; how much revenge you can enact in a few minutes. Then sit back and watch it work. You don’t have to directly tell them where to go, whom to shoot, you have pointed them in the direction you want them to go.

Is there a cabal of Far Right people who plan this out, somewhat like in the frightening movie “The Parallax View”? Perhaps, but most likely,not. It is more like winding up something, and then letting it run. There are so many people who have been drawn to one or more of the virulent sites which proliferate, and spin out their perverted fantasies, that it is almost certain that there will be a steady stream of weaponized people with easy access to assault rifles and ammunition. Wind them up, and watch them go.

That is what my musings today led me to. Just a hypothesis. Perhaps not exact in any detail, maybe not even accurate in its totality. But like all worthwhile hypotheses, it fits. The other alternative, the one we most hear in the media, is that these shootings are by discrete individuals, who have a troubled history, “who drift onto online sites,” and then one day, or maybe having planned it for a while, get their guns and ammunition, and go out to kill people.

The appeal of that hypothesis, particularly to the Far Right, is that it absolves them and their manifestos from responsibility. “It was just a disturbed person, what a shame. Let’s move on.” And so they do, to the next inevitable murder spree. Murder from a distance, murder that you never get arrested for, because you didn’t buy the guns or pull the trigger, you just goaded and commanded other people to do it.

You remember the other day in the House January 6 Committee hearings, we heard a tape of Trump demanding that “his people” be allowed to enter the Capitol with their weapons, because “they aren’t going to hurt me”? The mass shooters don’t seem to be hurting very many, if any, of the people on their side. Maybe that is why their side doesn’t seem too worried about the risk to them, and always just wants to “move on”?

That may well not be the exact truth, but I think that the truth is contained somewhere in the implications of this hypothesis.

Happy Fourth of July!

The Fourth of July was always a nice holiday. It celebrates the ratification of the Declaration of Independence, in 1776. It comes during the height of Summer, so it carries with it memories of pleasant celebrations as a child and as an adult.

For some, it meant a trip to the beach, maybe to watch a fireworks show. Or to one of the theme parks, Coney Island or Disneyland. Or if you loved baseball, doubleheaders, now mostly a thing of the past, as the franchises can make more money on individual games, than on the larger crowd you might get for playing two games in one day. But there are still plenty of baseball games on all day.

It is still close to the longest day of the year. Time to barbecue, sit outside and spend time with family. And of course there is the celebration of American independence, The Stars and Stripes Forever. I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy.

I hope everyone enjoys the Fourth in some way, whether it is watching one of the fireworks shows on television, or having family visit, or watching baseball, or one of the TV series telethons, or just not going to work.

As to the meaning of the holiday; where we are as a nation in our 247th year, we can think about that, or put it aside for right now. America has stood for something, and maybe that will carry us through. Independence. Liberty. Freedom. Democracy. Those are of course words, and they can be misused or exploited. But I think that there are still many millions of Americans who know what they are supposed to mean, and don’t want them to just be meaningless words.

Enjoy the holiday! Before long, it will be time to vote for our American democracy!