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There was, we’re sad to tell you, a horrifying amount of violence in the United States over the weekend as increasingly there is. Over just two days, at least 104 Americans were shot to death in major American cities. That’s a lot. How many? Well for perspective, on the single deadliest day of the Iraq war, that would be January of 2005, a total of 37 Americans died.
So, what’s happening in our cities right now looks a lot like a war, even if we rarely acknowledge it. Dallas, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, many other metro areas recorded murders over the weekend. That’s typical now. In St. Louis, 13 people were shot, five of them fatally. In Chicago, 33 were gunned down, five of those died. In Laguna Woods, California, a Chinese immigrant from Las Vegas walked into a Presbyterian church and shot six elderly Taiwanese parishioners. Police say he was motivated by some kind of political and ethnic hatred. And of course, most famously of all, on Saturday afternoon, a teenager in a mock military uniform walked into a grocery store in Buffalo and shot more than a dozen strangers with a rifle. No doubt you’ve seen accounts of this on the news.
What you probably haven’t seen are details about any of the 10 Americans who were murdered in that store in Buffalo. You may not even know their names, much less who they were or who they loved. Most of them were Black, we know that. But beyond the way they look, not a lot has been reported about them because the coverage hasn’t been about them. Nor, in fact, has it really been about the gunman.
He was an 18-year-old called Payton Gendron. Gendron was mentally ill. Everyone around him knew that, including his teachers and the local police. Less than a year ago, Gendron was committed to a mental hospital after threatening to murder his classmates at a school graduation ceremony.
On Saturday, after he made good on his longstanding threat to open fire into a crowd, Gendron left a 180-page letter that he said would explain his motives. You’ve probably heard this document described as a racist manifesto. Well, that’s not quite right. It’s definitely racist, bitterly so. Gendron reduces people to their skin color. That’s the essence of racism, and it’s immoral. But what he wrote does not add up to a manifesto. It is not a blueprint for a new extremist political movement, much less the potential inspiration for a racist revolution. Anyone who claims that it is, is lying or hasn’t read it.
Instead, Gendron’s letter is a rambling pastiche of slogans and internet memes, some of which flatly contradict one another. The document is not recognizably left-wing or right-wing. It’s not really political at all. The document is crazy. It’s the product of a diseased and organized mind. At one point, Gardner suggests that Fox News is part of some global conspiracy against him. He writes like the mental patient he is — disjointed, irrational, paranoid. Now, that’s true — not that it makes the atrocities he committed easier to bear.
If your daughter was murdered on Saturday in Buffalo, you wouldn’t care why the killer did it or who we voted for. But the truth about Payton Gendron does tell you a lot about the ruthlessness and dishonesty of our political leadership. Within minutes of Saturday’s shooting, before all of the bodies of those 10 murdered Americans had even been identified by their loved ones, professional Democrats had begun a coordinated campaign to blame those murders on their political opponents.
“They did it,” they said, immediately. Patron Gendron was the heir to Donald Trump, they told us. Trumpism committed mass murder in Buffalo and for that reason, it followed logically we must suspend the First Amendment. That’s hardly an exaggeration of what they’re saying. Here’s the selection from yesterday’s Sunday shows:
MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Social media companies and law enforcement have not done enough to monitor, to ban, to restrict, and to limit hate speech on their sites. Hate speech is not freedom of speech.
LETITIA JAMES, NY ATTORNEY GENERAL: As you know, the First Amendment does not protect hate speech.
NEW YORK GOV. KATHY HOCHUL: I’ll protect the First Amendment any day of the week, but you don’t protect hate speech. You don’t protect incendiary speech. You’re not allowed to scream fire in a crowded theater. There are limitations on speech and right now we have seen this run rampant.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at a news conference in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Tuesday, April 12, 2022. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
What is hate speech? Well, it’s speech that our leaders hate. So because a mentally ill teenager murdered strangers, you cannot be allowed to express your political views out loud. That’s what they’re telling you. That’s what they’ve wanted to tell you for a long time, but Saturday’s massacre gives them a pretext, a justification.
You have to ask yourself Who behaves like that? What sort of person uses mass murder as an excuse to give a campaign speech or seize more political power? We’ll find out tomorrow when Joe Biden travels to the scene of this atrocity in Buffalo to speak to the country. We haven’t seen an advance copy of his remarks, but we can guess what we will hear.
Biden’s approval rating appears to be the lowest ever recorded for a president this century, lower than Donald Trump’s. That is a disaster for his party. The Democratic Party will suffer for this in this fall’s elections. Biden still has time to change course and fix it. He could try to improve the lives of voters who are dissatisfied with him. That is entirely possible. That’s what politicians typically do when they’re down. They listen to the people who might reelect them. But Biden doesn’t plan to do that, and we know for a fact because Politico just reported it.
Instead, Biden has decided to attack people who disapprove. According to Politico, “Biden has taken to telling his aides that he no longer recognizes the GOP, which he now views as an existential threat to the nation’s democracy.” People who disagree with Joe Biden, according to Joe Biden, are now an “existential threat” to the nation like al-Qaeda or climate change, a threat that, by definition is so profound we must declare war upon it if we’re to survive.
Now, keep in mind, this threat that Biden is referring to is you. He’s talking about his fellow Americans. No president has ever spoken like this, ever. Joe Biden does it regularly and he’s certain to do it again tomorrow, but most painful and destructive at all. Biden is likely to use racial wounds in order to make his point. There is no behavior worse than this. All race politics is bad, no matter what flavor those politics happen to be. No race politics is better than any other. All of it is poison.
Race politics subsumes the individual into the group. It erases people. It dehumanizes them. Race politics elevates appearance over initiative and decency and all the other God given qualities that makes every person of every color unique yet morally equal to every other person. And above all, race politics always makes us hate each other and always in a very predictable way.
Let’s say you were to make identity politics mandatory in your country as they have. How could you be surprised when that leads, as it inevitably will, to White identity politics? Well, you could not be surprised – you did it, and it was always going to happen. And then what happens next? Nothing good. Race politics is a sin. Race politics always leads to violence and death. They learned that lesson in Rwanda in 1994.
Identity politics ended in genocide in Rwanda that killed 800,000 people, and in response to those horrors, the Rwandans did something that we might learn from. They moved in the opposite direction from one that Joe Biden is currently taking in the United States.
“Ethnicity has already been stripped out of schoolbooks and rubbed off government identity cards,” reported The New York Times. “Government documents no longer mention Hutu or Tutsi, and the country’s newspapers and radio stations steer clear of the labels as well. Most dramatic is how Rwanda’s 8 million people now shun the identifications, the racial identifications, that seem to loom so large 10 years ago as Hutu extremists began their mass killings.”
They have deemphasized race in Rwanda intentionally and systematically. Rwandan citizens are citizens first, members of racial or tribal groups, second or not at all. Result? There have been no more genocides in Rwanda and that could easily be the path forward for this country, too. There was only one answer to rising racial tension and that’s to deescalate and do what we have done and tried to do for hundreds of years, which is work toward colorblind meritocracy and treat people as human beings created by God rather than as faceless members of interest groups that might benefit some political party or other.
We have a moral duty to do this because all people have equal moral value, no matter what they look like. All lives matter, period. That’s not the determination of the U.S. government. That’s the determination of God, and it’s true, and most Americans already believe it. They would like to see a return to the American way of life and the American way of life is meritocracy – judge me by what I do, not by how I look, by the content of my character, not the color of my skin.
We have a monument on the mall to this, and yet suddenly, every voice in power is leading us in the opposite direction. And what’s the terminus of that journey? It’s destruction. Everybody knows this. Only our leaders stand in the way of fixing a problem that is growing worse by the day.