Over the weekend, America endured another wave of tragic mass shootings. Innocent lives were taken in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio as young white men wielding powerful rifles once again opened fire on unsuspecting crowds.
Already, President Trump and the GOP are rolling out hackneyed talking points about violent video games and mental illness in a transparent attempt to once again avoid talking about this country’s gun problem. Republicans are terrified of upsetting the NRA and their radical right-wing firearm fetishist constituents so they have to find ways to ignore the undeniable fact that this country is awash in weapons of war.
This morning, Trump even managed to obliquely imply that the shootings were somehow tied to the immigration debate. In reality, the El Paso shooter was a white supremacist who wanted to target people of color. He wasn’t an immigrant, he despised immigrants so much that he wanted to kill them en masse.
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Thankfully, former President Barack Obama has released a statement on Facebook and Twitter, demonstrating what real leadership looks like during dark times such as this. He said that he and former First Lady Michelle are grieving for the loss of life in El Paso and Dayton. He acknowledged that while details are still emerging and we don’t have the full picture of either massacre yet, there are “a few things we already know to be true.”
First, the United States is the only country in the world which experiences mass shootings this often and no other developed country has the same problem with gun violence in general. Obama dispelled the myth that tougher gun laws won’t help fix the problem and encouraged Americans to demand that our elected officials take immediate action to stop these senseless killings.
Second, he called attention to the fact that “troubled individuals” are increasingly embracing violent, white supremacist ideologies that they discover on the internet, ending up radicalized in a manner not dissimilar to ISIS operatives. As such, Obama says, law enforcement agencies must work with online platforms to stop the spread of these toxic beliefs.
Finally, Americans must champion “the values of tolerance and diversity that should be the hallmark of our democracy.” While Obama didn’t mention Trump by name, he did call for Americans to reject the words of “any our of leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people.” The powerful words are clearly a rebuff of President Trump and his escalating bigoted rhetoric.
Obama drew a connection between the hateful rhetoric we are seeing in the United States and past atrocities from all over the world. He ended the statement with a call to action for all Americans to immediately stand up for what is right.
We must heed his call. We must expel these hatemongers and blood profiteers from our government and in 2020 we will have the chance to do just that. Obama has given us a blueprint for how to stem the tide of gun violence, now we must empower public officials to do it.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 5, 2019