The rush to, yet again, politicize a tragedy, does not live up to the charges.
It is rather jarring – though no longer shocking – how quickly the agenda-rustlers can not only pivot on an issue but take an opposing stance, within the matter of days. Also precious is the way they manage to contradict themselves within the narrative of a single issue.
This past week we were faced with a pair of tragedies, murders that not only pierced the emotional nerve of the country but landed at the front of the political spectrum as well. First we learned of the discovery of the body of long-missing Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts. She was murdered at the hands of a migrant farm worker who is an undocumented resident alien/illegal immigrant.
This was followed by the shock of a shooting in Jacksonville at a video game competition staged at an area mall. A participant decided to reenter the restaurant staging the competition and shot numerous patrons. Along with numerous wounded victims three are reportedly dead, including the shooter, who reportedly took his own life.
Of course in these type of news scenarios we have become conditioned to the reflexive social outrage to immediately follow. In the Tibbetts case the battleground was established between those repeating the call to enforce immigration legislation and those declaring we not politicize the tragedy. Of course those on the left had to contort in order to make their case.
The need to steer from the immigrant issue, because that is President Trump’s signature issue, took many forms, but the common refrain was we could not impugn a wide swath of people with the actions of an individual. CNN fixture, Symone Sanders, took a tortuous route to deflect away from the issue. She attempted to state that the killing had nothing to do with immigration, and was instead a result of toxic masculinity.
The obliviousness needed to spout this fractured theorem is possibly unable to be measured. For one, how exactly could the killer be said to be a product of our toxic culture when he was not even from this country?! When he was being initially charged with the murder his lawyer tried to claim this illegal resident was an “All American Boy”. It becomes a most laughable claim when that particular praise had to be translated to the killer in order for him to hear it. He was incapable of ever learning our language, yet we are told he somehow absorbed our culture’s hateful stance towards women. Sure.
Further invalidating herself Sanders was declaring it is wrong to “Characterize an entire community based off the actions of one person.” However she had absolutely no issue in stating that an entire gender can be blamed for the murder of a young Iowan co-ed.
Yes, the rush to politicize these deaths, from either side of the aisle, is distasteful. Unfortunately we are in that space as a society where a segment of citizens feels these are the proper times to soapbox their views. And when news broke of the shooting in Jacksonville so to did social media break out with pontificating, almost immediately. The difference was the roles were completely switched from the Tibbetts killing.
One other difference needs to be addressed. Following any shooting the reflexive call is for new laws, new restrictions, and new limits on our rights. That is maximizing leverage with a tragedy for a political gain. On the immigration outrage what you are hearing is the call for enforcement of current laws. While seemingly a minor distinction, it is actually a gulf between the two efforts.
Those from the side condemning the politicizing of deaths had no hesitation pronouncing the need for gun control, and some invoking the demonized National Rifle Association – which once again bore no connection whatsoever to the shooting event. Taken further many in the media are of course invoking Parkland, and the Pulse nightclub shooting, in their framing of this tragedy. Florida gun laws have been checked off, and the relevance to tomorrow’s primary votes is noted.
This is a bothersome practice, and I would desire to douse these hot takes with some inconvenient facts. To start, the shooting was done with a handgun, not a dreaded AR-style weapon. The mall where the shooting took place was a gun-free zone. Most important of all, the shooter – aged 24 years and not an underaged teen – was not a resident. Nothing, it seems, concerning this tragedy has any relevance to Florida legislation, yet the desire to make it relevant is blatant.
The shooter brought the gun down with him from his home in Baltimore. Maryland is a state with some of the tightest gun control laws, and the city of Baltimore has additional restrictions on owning guns. It becomes the kind of tangled web of facts that will diffuse a narrative quickly. The fallback of chalking this up to the violence of first-person shooter games cannot even be used; the tournament was for the Madden 2018 football video game.
Given Florida laws do not apply here, and the restrictive gun laws in Maryland/Baltimore did nothing to prevent this tragedy, this story is slated to evaporate rather quickly as a result. The knee-jerk reactionaries however get their echo chamber talking points into the news cycle, with relative ease.