This began as a rather belated examination of the reactions to the shootings in Orlando and Dallas, as I also offered for Charleston and Roseburg and others. But right from the beginning, I was thinking that I’d better hurry up and finish it, because given the frequency of such events these days, another one could occur at any moment. And lo and behold. But not to worry, the extremist reactions to all such incidents are fairly standard, with only slight variation. So herewith are the looniest, most hateful, most ignorant, most childish, most bigoted responses to the most recent (at the moment) round of mass murder by firearm.
1. “Muslims and Black Lives Matter”
Since the shooter in Dallas was black and the targets were police officers, it probably shouldn’t surprise you that the reactionaries would seize the opportunity to vilify an organization that draws attention to the disproportionate number of blacks shot by police. After all, they also proclaimed that the lone shooter in Orlando was proof that Muslims were to blame for the violence there. (As comedian Kumail Nanjiani commented, “Must be pretty cool to be white and just represent yourself and not your entire race”).
Following the shooting of the police officers in Dallas, here’s what a perennially pompous and vituperative talk radio personality (let’s not give him any more attention than need be by actually naming him) had to say :
Black Lives Matter was just exactly who they are then as who they are today. They’re a terrorist group. They’re quickly becoming a terrorist group committing hate crimes.
Never mind that there is no indication the gunman was connected with Black Lives Matter — which has solidly condemned the shootings. By drawing attention to police violence against blacks and seeking solutions, so the narrative goes, BLM is encouraging violence against police.
And of course as soon as it became known that the killer in Baton Rouge was black, the reactionaries tried to fit him into the narrative of black thugs killing white cops — never mind that one of the victims was also black, and that there was no indication of racial motivation. Interestingly, they did not try to fit him into a narrative when it came out that he may have been, like the vast majority of homegrown terrorists, associated with a radical right-wing anti-government ideology.
2. “All lives matter”
Before this year’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game in San Diego, the Canadian quartet known as The Tenors came onto the field and sang the Canadian national anthem. Almost. But unbeknownst to the other three, one of the tenors altered the tenor of the lyrics during the song to say “all lives matter”, thus pissing off two countries at once. His outraged colleagues issued an apology and booted him out of the group.
Disrespectful mangling of a national anthem aside, what exactly is wrong with saying “all lives matter”? After all, all lives clearly do matter. Well, what’s wrong is that the phrase was coined, or at least co-opted, as a rallying cry for those who want to attack, smear or trivialize Black Lives Matter. It’s a phrase that was uttered, for instance, by a man in Illinois just before he drove his vehicle into a crowd of BLM demonstrators. (No arrests were made.)
3. “Thoughts and prayers”
Once upon a time, it sounded like sincere empathy to say that your thoughts and prayers were with the victims and their families, even though both thought and prayer are notoriously ineffective in healing fatal bullet wounds or preventing future ones. These days, the expression just sounds meaningless and hollow — especially since it’s so often intoned by congresspersons who, being in the pocket of the gun lobby, refuse to take any action on gun violence.
4. “The worst mass shooting in U.S. history”
That was the unanimous verdict of the media about the Orlando massacre. But it wasn’t exactly true. Early in the Twentieth Century, there were mob attacks on African-Americans that left hundreds dead. Some of the victims were lynched or killed by other means, but a great many were shot. (Some people also might count the massacre of Native Americans at Wounded Knee; but while the victims there were civilian, the killers were military personnel — which makes it rather different from what we normally characterize as a mass shooting.) The fact that mass murders of non-whites have slid under the radar of those keeping the tally is a good illustration of the problem — or at least one serious problem.
5. The NRA
If there is any bar of bad taste or poor judgment too low for the National Rifle Association to limbo under, they haven’t stumbled upon it yet. During the week leading up to Independence Day this year, the “gun rights” group aired a political ad (a pro-Trump ad, no less) that used the graves of military personnel as props in a video shot at Arlington National Cemetery without authorization and in clear violation of Arlington’s rules. And every time there is one of those increasingly common mass shootings, you can count on the good ol’ NRA to call for more guns in the streets, and to remind everyone that Obama wants to take away your guns and destroy your freedom (which amount to the same thing, don’t you know) and insist that we shouldn’t “blame the gun” for this carnage because the killers just as easily could have done the same damage using chess pieces or soda straws.
And of course they will blame anything and everything they can for the violence to deflect any share of culpability away from their precious guns. After Orlando, they even pointed the trigger finger at the specter of “political correctness”, whatever that means.
The shooting in Dallas actually prompted a much tamer than usual response from LaPierre and company ; but the promptness of that response was in itself rather incriminating. Why? Because it stands in stark contrast to the group’s glacial pace in commenting on the senseless police killing of civilian Philando Castile.
It’s especially interesting because Castile was a law-abiding licensed gun owner who was armed at the time but fully compliant with police instructions. He was, in short, the exemplary poster boy for so-called “Second Amendment rights” that the NRA normally would rush to defend against government tyranny at breakneck speed. But after Castile’s slaying, they were totally crickets for two days, and even then spoke up in a sanitized, broadly and diplomatically worded statement issued only after they’d been prodded a few times.
Did we mention that Philando Castile was black?
6. Trumpery as usual
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (did I really just type those words, or is it all just a bizarre nightmare?) Tweeted this about Orlando:
Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!
While the rest of the world was reeling with shock and grief, The Donald was engrossed with the one thing that he’s always been most engrossed with: himself, as he patted himself on the back for supposedly being right about Muslims in general being untrustworthy, and for his supposed “toughness and vigilance”.
In other comments about shootings, he has assailed President Obama’s leadership because he “allowed” these shootings to occur, and even nitpicked the president’s “body language”, implying that he wasn’t really sincere enough in his grief or strong enough in his resolve.
Is this the same Donald Trump who commented on the Roseburg shooting spree that “these things happen”, and there’s nothing you can do to stop them? So a self-described “conservative Republican” goes on a rampage, and it’s just a matter of “shit happens”. But closer to an election, our dark-skinned president should have been able to control all the other dark-skinned people, and it’s a sign of weak leadership that he let them slip through the net.
For what it’s worth, the record shows that President Obama, whether you approve of his polices or not, has been an incredibly effective leader — if you really doubt that, Exhibit A is the way he shepherded the passage of the ACA despite seemingly impossible odds and unprecedented obstruction — while Trump himself has a record of ducking responsibility, pointing fingers and refusing to acknowledge mistakes. But the problem here isn’t just a blowhard egomaniac spouting off. Trump and his like are the price Americans pay for the First Amendment. And the problem isn’t even that he repeats blatant lies, including lies promoted by admirers of Hitler.
The real problem is that his reckless and irresponsible rhetoric actually may be aiding and abetting the enemy. He appears to be doing, in other words, exactly what he baselessly accuses Obama of doing. How’s that leadership thing working out for you, Don?
7. Religious idiocy
If it is indeed fair to judge an entire demographic sector by the actions of a handful, then Christians are in deep, deep doo-doo. Not only are Christian terrorists more common than Islamic terrorists, but also while American Muslims uniformly denounce violence, a handful of American Christians — a very large handful, actually — celebrate and encourage it. (At least one Christian pundit tried claiming that unlike Muslim terrorists, Christian terrorists don’t try to justify their actions by citing scripture. Really?)
Pat Robertson, who is nominally a Christian minister, seems nonetheless on a hellbent mission to make Christianity (not to mention political conservatism) look as bad as possible. He once suggested, for example, that Hurricane Katrina was caused by God’s wrath over abortion. And he was true to form when it came to Orlando.
The left is having a dilemma of major proportions and I think for those of us who disagree with some of their policies, the best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves.
Maybe not quite as hateful as usual, but just as loony. Meanwhile, a church pastor in Sacramento addressed his congregation thusly:
I think that’s great. I think that helps society. You know, I think Orlando, Fla., is a little safer tonight…The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is — I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job!
That was not, mind you, a spur-of-the-moment Tweet. He actually put it into a sermon. And he’s not alone. A pastor in Arizona seems to have received the same memo from his Loving God:
The good news is that at least 50 of these pedophiles are not going to be harming children anymore. The bad news is that a lot of the homos in the bar are still alive, so they’re going to continue to molest children and recruit people into their filthy homosexual lifestyle.
This particular pastor, by the way, had previously said he would pray that President Obama “dies and goes to hell”, inspiring a member of his faithful flock to show up armed at one of Obama’s appearances. But he probably wouldn’t have been able to cite any Bible verses to justify this move, do you think?
And then there’s always the Westboro Baptist Church. ‘Nuff said.
8. “Civil war”
That was the caption about the Dallas massacre used by a New York rag, and many people took up the cry: It’s cops versus African Americans or their advocates, and ya gotta choose one side or the other. These people presumably flip a coin when they encounter a black cop. And their heads really must explode when they hear about an incident like the one in California when Black Lives Matter activists and police officers shook hands after a demonstration. Or in Wichita when they had a cookout together. Or in Dallas when BLM demonstrators and All Lives Matter demonstrators shook hands, embraced and prayed together.
The Drudge Report ran the headline “Black Lives Kill”. And talk show host and former congressman Joe Walsh Tweeted:
5 cops dead, 7 wounded. This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after.
When Real America came after Walsh instead, he deleted it and replaced it with this:
10 Cops shot. You did this Obama. You did this liberals. You did this
#BLM. Time to defend our Cops. Wake up.
Presumably, that version was intended to sound slightly less stupid.
9. Alex Jones
It’s tempting to say that Jones belongs in a category all by himself; but obviously there are many people out there who “think” like he does, or else he wouldn’t still be raking in the bucks year after year. In any case, these shootings have given him the opportunity to go full throttle, denouncing not only a “civil war”, but a “globalist, leftist takeover” involving Obama, Clinton, the United Nations, and Media Matters. And maybe those cricket people from the center of the earth.
10. “Hillary and Obama did it”
You may have noticed a common thread in a great many of the reactionary reactions: the first impulse is to blame the big bad black guy in the formerly White House. Because Obama openly and honestly (and accurately) acknowledges that there is a race problem in this country, and hey, because he’s viewed as a race problem himself, the reactionaries proclaim that he is, somehow, fomenting tension between the races. And Hillary Clinton must be doing so too, because… well, just because.
Even John McCain, who was once considered a sane and respectable statesman before he inflicted Sarah Palin on the world, declared that the president was “directly responsible” for Orlando. (Unlike other sufferers from Obama Derangement Syndrome, McCain at least had the decency to offer a half-assed retraction.) Some people have even suggested that the president literally ordered these attacks; evidently he’s supposed to be an impossibly “weak leader” except when it comes to orchestrating terrorism against his own people.
The two lines of assault are that Obama has (a) enabled terrorists, and (b) scorned police officers. In fact, the president has worked very hard to fight terrorism and to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists. If he’s been less than totally effective, it’s in part because he’s had to fight the NRA and the GOP along with ISIS. (See him bitch-slap a “gun rights” advocate who confronts him with the”you’re punishing lawful gun owners” and “crime is bad in your hometown” narratives.) He’s also been entirely supportive of law enforcement personnel. (See him totally de-pants the lieutenant governor of Texas, who confronts him with the “you don’t care about cops” narrative.)
Here’s an interesting idea for an experiment: let’s take a poll among people who believe Obama was responsible for these shootings, and find out how many of them also believe he is responsible for the death of bin Laden. Chances are the percentage will be a maximum of zero — even though the president verifiably did order that attack.
11. “A middle finger to cops”
Speaking at a memorial service for the fallen officers in Dallas, the president sounded a note of fervent optimism, insisting that “we are not as divided as we seem” despite occasional acts of hatred and racism, and that Americans can and will overcome their differences. But the Obama haters totally ignored the optimism and just zeroed in on the tiny part of his speech where he dared display the honesty and candor to mention the racism at all:
What kind of pathetically self-absorbed asshat hijacks a memorial for cops murdered by a racist to lecture cops on race?
Obama has never stopped being Bill Ayers’ acolyte. He never cared for this nation and never will.
Obama turns #DallasPoliceMemorial into lecture on race – SO DISGUSTING – Probably his MOST OFFENSIVE SPEECH Ever – What a jerk!
Black Lives Matter is a fraud and based on lies. They also promote cop killers. Unreal Obama would credit them at this memorial.
Of course: Divider-in-chief exploits #dallasmemorial for 5 gunned-down cops to bash police depts. Go home.
At funeral for 5 Dallas cops killed by #BlackLivesMatter Obama emphasizes & exaggerates bigotry among police. A middle finger to cops.
12. The Bush dance
The Obama Haters were so obsessed with finding something, anything, to smear the president for, that they seem to have overlooked the character a couple of heads to his right. During a rendition of Battle Hymn of the Republic, George W. Bush begins swaying and boogieing and having a grand old time as if he’s flashing back to a drunken frat party. First Lady Michelle Obama at first glares at him in disbelief, then forces an indulgent smile, while his wife Laura shoots him a look that suggests he’s going to be taken to the woodshed when he gets home. I’ve heard people try to offer justifications for his behavior, but there’s no excuse for not realizing that in a memorial service for five people you don’t know, there are bound to be some who might consider it inappropriate. His conduct bespeaks the same kind of boy-in-a-bubble cluelessness that characterized his eight long years in Washington.
And there you have it, the worst reactions and responses I’m aware of this time around. If there are any I’ve overlooked, by all means bring them to my attention. But I doubt if anyone will bother. Any day now, there will be another mass shooting to steal the focus.
Being someone who dotes on reality, I have been particularly upset about the vindictive spirit that seems to be vying for America’s soul while wrapped in a flag and brandishing an AR-15, (which is close to being a quote of some noted author like Sinclair Lewis) correct me if it was someone else.
We now have a ton of prejudiced people that completely misunderstand what the 1st amendment is about, and who use the 2nd amendment like a barricade during a world war. And all your observations, POP are unfortunately, truly descriptive about what is currently happening.
The name of the game seems to be obtaining positions of leadership and power, by tapping into peoples anger and their sense of being picked on—so it’s now far more important for many politicians to tell the most persuasive lies in order to convince and motivate large numbers of people.
Not only is Obama being made a scapegoat for the uptick in clashes between black Americans and police, but it seems that far to few of us actually realize that virtually none of the calls to hatred screamed out by the right wing, have any basis in reality at all. i.e. Does anyone remember how our President originally called for air strikes against Syria, and also proposed to draw a line that we would cross in the event of Assad using mass chemical weapons of destruction? Does anyone also remember the stink Republicans and conservatives raised against such actions which they claimed were none of our business, and how now, years later, these same people are blaming Obama for failing to act in Syria, and thus for letting ISIS gain a foothold in the Middle East?
From the beginning Obama has struggled to do the right thing, while his critics have been quick to lay the blame on him for any terrorists which have any amount of success. The president has truly tried to exercise constraint in order not to endanger the brightest, best, and very large numbers of young American soldiers, who would be placed in harms way, by a boots on the ground strategy. He truly cares about American lives and world peace enough to be reluctant to ever act in haste—yet no mater what patience and reserve he displays in that regard, he is somehow always held to blame for any policy that can possibly create problems for Americans—in any way at all?
As you point out, he has consistently had the gall to see both sides of any issue, and to make wise choices about how to deal with the problems they raise. And one of these, is his honest regard for placing the blame for police shootings in which people die, on both sides– or all sides–as they truly are! Unfortunately He has the gall to blame both the cops and the protesters, and to suggest measures that might alleviate some of the biases and prejudices on both sides—in order to end this travesty.
Lately (as you point out) we see Obama blamed for drone strikes, for not launching enough drones strikes, not having a strategy against ISIS while simultaneously killing more terrorists than GW Bush, while Lying Trump, has the distinction of telling the most outright lies of any other public figure–so many that FactCheck.org has given him the ‘King of The Whoppers” award, and has examined Trumps tendency to bemoans the stupidly of the war against Qaddafi, and somehow pushing the idea that Hillary really has the power to direct American troops–supposedly ordering them when and where to strike (however only our military leaders have that authority)! He also claimed his opposition for that war, and that he represented a dissenting voice against it— despite numerous quotes taken from him, which affirm the actually opinions he truly expressed, while enthusiastically encouraging for American intervention, and thus, advocated for just the apposite.
For someone like myself who occasionally writes letters of opinion to our local newspapers about the lies and myths being circulated by political power mongers, the effort to expose them never involves sufficient time or large enough commenting word limits, to make a dent in the conservative bull which currently manifests itself like a seven headed hydra, and only grows more heads with each new decapitation. Most of us are limited to 250 or 300 words once an month to answer the onslaught of such incredibly hateful and stupid propaganda. So really trying to make a difference these days has become an exercise in frustration which frequently saps the mind and discourages the soul.
So, thanks POP, for being one of those few voices of reason which insist on speaking the truth, while so many of us just wan’t to score propaganda points to help with the acquisition of power. People like you, and comedian Stephen Colbert have became voices of truth, and an oasis of sanity that helps preserve the vitality of those of who are aware of the mindless insanity aimed at Obama, and the perversion of religions which are supposed to be facilitating the spirits of peace and love—as well as government’s call for the separations of powers so necessary to protect us all–not just those who continually try and run off with the keys to the nut house! And who then take names off of the no fly list so as not to upset those who somehow should be immune to pleading their cases with airport security—like the rest of us!
The old guard(ancient white males) is losing its shit over its diminishing influence, while clinging desperately to its exaggerated sense of self-importance.
I think Colbert, Bill Maher, or John Stewart said, (sorry I don’t know for sure which one) “And who is more in need of having their constitutional rights preserved?—middle aged white guys of course!”—sorry but, this is not an exact quote.
It was also great when John Stewart angrily pointed out that, the enemies of freedom are NOT those who simply want to have their civil rights recognized, but rather, those who try to deny those other people of their rights! Again, this is not an exact quote. However, it expresses the essence of his remarks in one of the most truly inspired rants I have ever heard!
Here’s John Stewart, in a Media Matters video which includes the inspired rant I mentioned:
[…] variations on the same themes you’ve heard after Charleston and Roseburg and Las Vegas and Orlando and Dallas and Baton Rouge and every other mass shooting : both sides do it; it was a […]