In the wake of tragedies such as a mass shooting, people often look to understand how such horrible events could transpire. Often, this comes in the form of finding a source of blame.
For years, the left’s move has been to look at guns as the proximate cause of the violence, while the right places direct responsibility on the individual perpetrators, with some increased focus on mental health in recent years. However, in the wake of the recent mass shootings, a new target for blame has emerged: politicians and their rhetoric. This new blame comes on the heels of two consecutive mass shootings in as many days.
First, a man opened fire in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people, after publishing a hateful, anti-immigrant manifesto. The next day, a man in Dayton, Ohio, killed 10 people outside a bar. While the El Paso gunman’s manifesto illuminated his motivations, the cause for the Dayton shooting is less clear. What is unambiguous, however, is both shooters’ political identifications.
The El Paso shooter a white nationalist, who criticizes both parties, but admired Republicans’ secure border policies. The Dayton shooter is a self-described leftist and socialist, who supported Elizabeth Warren’s presidential bid. Ironically, he was in favor of strong gun control, but advocated for taking matters into his own hands to help America attain socialism. He also regularly praised the actions of Antifa, a far-left group known to incite and enact violence.
Just as some on the left have decided to blame Trump for the violence in El Paso, as that shooter’s manifesto praised the president, similar logic could place some of the blame for Dayton on the aggressively divided left and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a major Democrat in the socialism movement, has publicly advocated rioting while in office. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ encouragement of revolution has been confused as a call-to-arms. Even Warren took credit for a massive protest that ultimately turned violent, and has frequently referred to the current administration, and implicitly its supporters, as racist.
However, it would be fundamentally wrong to place the blame for one man’s actions on the rhetoric of the far-left. He alone is to blame for his actions outside that bar, just as it is wrong to place responsibility for the El Paso shooter on the president. The only thing Warren and her fellow Democrats are guilty of is politicizing a tragedy, the same sin they commit after every mass shooting.
It is wholly ridiculous that the left, in desperation to comprehend how such tragedies and hate could exist, have turned to blaming Trump for a shooter who twisted right-wing ideas about border security and perverted it into his violent manifesto. The president never advocated for violence, and has since condemned the shooters’ actions and white supremacy.
It is perfectly understandable why some seek to blame the president, as they search for meaning in the carnage. Should Warren be criticized for some likewise falsified offense due to the Dayton shooter’s political leanings, I too would understand the impulse.
However, it is important that we stop throwing blame haphazardly at the politicians with whom we disagree, or manipulating human suffering to push our personal politics. Domestic terror, such as white supremacy and Antifa, must be addressed and eradicated.
If we are searching for a culprit alongside the El Paso and Dayton shooters, these terror movements respectively could justifiably take a fraction of the blame. But we must not allow ourselves to get caught up in the rhetoric and politicizing, where we hold politicians accountable for events in which they had no role, and even criticized.
So, Elizabeth Warren, the Dayton shooting was not your fault, and no one could rightfully blame you. The same is true of President Trump and the El Paso shooter.