| G. Michael Dobbs
What an amazingly terrible week we’ve had when it comes to terrorism in this country.
On Oct. 24, a white man named Gregory Bush killed two African-Americans outside of a grocery store in Jeffersontown KY. He had attempted to enter an African-American Church prior to his attack. Police believe his intent was to enter the church during a service and attack. According to the report in the New York Times, Bush has a history of mental illness, a record of domestic violence and had been previously prohibited to own a gun.
On Oct. 26, the man police believe made and mailed the pipe bombs to at least 14 critics of President Donald Trump was arrested in Florida.
On Oct. 27, Robert Lee Bowers was arrested at a Pittsburgh synagogue after killing 11 people. He had made anti-Semitic statements during the shooting, CNN reported, and on social media.
What is happening in this country? Why is it happening?
Turn to talk radio or social media and everyone seems to know why. Put simply, Democrats blame Republicans. Republicans blame Democrats. And the President blames the media.
Some recent tweets from President Trump continue the narrative he has expertly sold to those who follow him:
“There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame...
“The Fake News is doing everything in their power to blame Republicans, Conservatives and me for the division and hatred that has been going on for so long in our Country. Actually, it is their Fake & Dishonest reporting which is causing problems far greater than they understand!
“A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”
It’s very easy in politics and public opinion to paint with a very wide brush. It’s easy to make statements that accuse or congratulate large groups of people. What the president and many others on both sides of the political spectrum are doing is easy, traditional American politics.
It’s much more difficult to actually try to take a moment of violence and horror and analyze how it came about. That’s what we need to do.
As much proof as there is of the president encouraging violence while on the campaign trail – remember who he offered to pay the legal bills at one rally for his supporters to beat up a protester? – I think it’s disingenuous to blame him 100 percent for the current divisions that in some cases result in terrible and shameful acts of violence.
I think we need to remember that not all atrocities are easily explained. They are not equal. I think we need to understand each of them on a case-by-case basis to come up with solutions.
One thing is for sure: people with either histories of violence or mental illness should not have access to guns. Yes, before you rush to your computers to tell me that people uses knives as well, please, stop a moment. That’s not a solution. That’s a kneejerk reaction.
We need to walk away from the kneejerk reactions to actually look at this country and ourselves. The president should stop demonizing “the media.” The Democrats need to stop demonizing Trump. The Republicans need to think for themselves.
The only way we can stop the violence is to actually come up with data-based solutions that challenge typical conventional wisdom. The question is whether or not elected officials are up to that task?