It didn’t take long for the political blame game to begin after the Dallas shootings Thursday night. As in Orlando, so in Dallas. But this has become an established pattern in American politics.
Three days after the Orlando nightclub massacre last month, the New York Times ran an editorial blaming the attack on a political environment created by the GOP’s “corrosive politics” and anti-gay bigotry:
While the precise motivation for the rampage remains unclear, it is evident that Mr. Mateen was driven by hatred toward gays and lesbians. Hate crimes don’t happen in a vacuum. They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified and where people are scapegoated for political gain. Tragically, this is the state of American politics, driven too often by Republican politicians who see prejudice as something to exploit, not extinguish.
Today, less than 24 hours after a gunman ambushed and killed five Dallas police officers and wounded more than a half-dozen more, the Congressional Black Caucus convened a press conference to condemn Republicans for not supporting stricter gun control legislation. “Republicans, what on Earth—why are you recoiling and not giving us a debate on gun violence?” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield. “Why not give it a hearing? Give us a debate. Give us an up or down vote on legislation on gun violence.”
Hours later, President Obama gave a statement commending the Dallas police and law enforcement officials everywhere. But he couldn’t resist adding a comment about gun control:
We also know that when people are armed with powerful weapons, unfortunately it makes attacks like these more deadly and more tragic. And in the days ahead, we’re going to have to consider those realities as well.
As Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, so infamously stated, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that [is] it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
Rest assured, we will hear very little if any discussion in the days ahead about the gunman’s motives, just like in the aftermath the Orlando attacks—even though the shooters in both cases clearly stated their motives. Omar Mateen was a radical Islamist who told a 911 operator he was killing in the name of ISIS. The Dallas gunman was apparently a black militant who told police he was angry about recent police shootings and that he wanted to kill white people, “especially white officers.”
After Orlando, the narrative that emerged was about Republicans’ hatred of gay people, not about terrorism.
The narrative moving forward in the wake of Dallas, at least among our political and media elites, will be about gun control, about the further concentration of power in Washington, D.C., and about Republican intransigence in the face of a tragedy that could have been prevented if only conservatives would at last repudiate and let go of their precious Second Amendment.
For the Left, in other words, this tragedy will be leveraged to accumulate political power. The crisis will be used as an excuse to do things they’ve always wanted to do. In crafting its narrative, the Left will do almost nothing to grapple with the social ills that contributed to Dallas or point a way forward for a deeply divided nation. Focusing on the means used to carry out the attack serves a useful partisan purpose. Focusing on the motivations for it, or the ideological pattern with which it fits, does not.