The police officers stand in the street for hours, half afraid, half bored. Nothing really happens, and they know too well from previous evenings that nothing will happen. When “softer” forms of harassment don’t help, the commanders begin to initiate the riot. They will stop a young man at random while aggressively shouting at him or frisking him. They will approach a group of teenagers minding their own business near one of the stores and threaten them to “get the hell out of here or else.” Sooner or later something works: someone dares speak back to them, or a stone is thrown from somewhere out of sight. At that moment, the situation becomes a “security threat,” and the paramilitary police are allowed to mete out violence. But against whom? This is still a neighborhood; there is no armed enemy in sight, not to mention any rioters. Yet the protocol calls for “clearing the area,” so everyone comes a target. Physical violence, stun grenades, and pepper spray are used, affecting not only those who happen to be in the street but also all those who remain indoors.
A new study reveals that the far right party disproportionately focuses on crimes allegedly committed by a foreigners. Crimes committed by Germans are mostly ignored.
Attacks like that in El Paso are not an end in themselves. They are a call to arms, toward something much more frightening.
These terrorists want to do quickly what the policymakers insist must be done slowly, so the terrorists stew in their anger. They are angry at immigrants because their numbers are ascendant — through both immigration and higher birthrates — and, those immigrants threaten an even more accelerated displacement of white people from a numerical majority. They are angry at white liberals for courting the demise of white supremacy. They are angry at white liberal white women in particular for championing a woman’s right to choose and for not having more babies. They are angry at black people for even existing. It is not lost on me that this summer is the 100th anniversary of the “Red Summer,” when violent anti-black white supremacists rioted in cities across the country, killing many, just as the Great Migration — the mass migration of millions of black people mostly from the rural South to the urban North — was getting underway. Violence is the way the white terrorists respond to demographic shifts and demographic terror. It’s not simply a matter of whether Trump’s rhetoric, or that of any other politician, led these shooters to do what they did. Maybe. It is also about recognizing
At each moment of national tragedy, Trump stands on the sidelines smirking – and does little to prevent atrocities from happening in the first place
“Summertime and the livin’ is easy” are the opening lyrics of George Gershwin’s 1935 opera, Porgy and Bess. But not in America in 2019.
Not when you go to bed on Saturday night mourning the victims of a massacre in a Walmart in the border city of El Paso. Not when you wake on Sunday morning to learn of mass murder in the seemingly safe downtown streets of Dayton, Ohio.
Vote for change!
Andrew Marantz writes on the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday, and Dayton, Ohio, on Sunday, and how domestic terrorists gain inspiration from online spaces such as 8chan, 4chan, and Gab.
Charles Bethea speaks with Jorge Sainz about Sainz’s experience offering emergency-care help at an El Paso, Texas, hospital that took in victims from a mass shooting there on Saturday.
From their Republican U.S senator:
— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) June 22, 2019
And from Fox News:
As the so-called US-bound “caravan” traveling through Mexico continues to swell, some questions arise that the media will not ask. Who is funding these efforts? How has it grown so quickly and what did the Democrats have to offer besides a bunch of cliches and bromides, and of course grandstanding?
If you have been watching other networks, you have been treated to sympathetic, overwrought coverage of this invading horde, which is anything but a “caravan.” Mainstream news networks have dispatched teams of embedded reporters who are not so much covering the migrant mob as covering for it. They highlight the wonderful camaraderie and welcoming spirit of the masses bent on breaking into our nation. If you are skeptical, or dare to think our border should be secure, you are a “fear-monger” who doesn’t treat people with proper respect. Why, you may have even turned your back on the teachings of Christ, according to the previously militantly secular media.
Their latest gripe is President Trump’s suggestion that Middle Eastern terrorists might be part of this peace-loving group of traveling mothers and children.
And of course from President Donald Trump:
Hispanic leaders say there are chilling parallels between what Trump has said about immigrants and the suspected El Paso shooter’s writings.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, who represents nearby San Antonio and is chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said he is worried for his own young children in the wake of the shooting targeting people like his family.
“The President has put a target on the back of the Hispanic community for years now, and there’s a cost to that kind of dangerous and racially divisive rhetoric,” Castro said, on the phone from his home in San Antonio. ”If you look at the shooter‘s manifesto, it’s consistent with the language that President Trump has used to describe Hispanic immigrants as being part of an invasion of the United States.”
Mr. President, can you think of ANY reason the El Paso shooter might have railed against an “invasion” of migrants in his manifesto?
— Holly Figueroa O’Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) August 4, 2019
According to Facebook’s ad archive, Trump has run around 2,200 FB ads since May 2018 mentioning the word “invasion.” Scrolling through, all of them seem to be about immigration. pic.twitter.com/0Q5TEewfL3
— Natalie Martinez (@natijomartinez) August 4, 2019
The Republican party is a domestic terrorist organization, that is getting Hispanic people in this country murdered. It should be treated as such.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is introduced with Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, at the National Rifle Association’s NRA-ILA (Institute for Legislative Action) Leadership Forum during the NRA Convention at the Kentucky Exposition Center on May 20, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. The NRA endorsed Trump at the convention.
1960s: 1 (University of Texas tower shooting)
2010s: 12 and counting
18 of these 32 mass shootings have taken place since 2007.
Now they look like this:
1960s: 1 (University of Texas tower shooting)
2010s: 19 and counting
25 of these 39 mass shootings have taken place since 2007.
There have been as many of these shootings in the last 21 months as there were in any single decade prior to this one. We’ve gone from one such shooting every thirty years to one every three months. THERE HAVE BEEN MORE IN THE LAST 20 HOURS THAN THERE WERE COLLECTIVELY IN THE THIRTY YEARS BEFORE 1980.
I’m all for not rebroadcasting killers’ manifestos but this “Great Replacement” stuff is on Fox every week.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) August 4, 2019
Sociologists like me often highlight these rituals of childhood in our writing and teaching. One of the founders of our field, Émile Durkheim, made them the centerpiece of his work. Institutions, he argued, are rituals that bind people to one another as a group. In a ritual, each person finds their place and does their part, and expects everyone else to do the same. Crucially, those involved all see one another participating in the event. By doing so, they enact their collective life in view of one another, demonstrating its reality, expressing its meaning, and feeling its pulse in their veins. That, Durkheim thought, is at root what a society is.
In any given week in America, you can watch as a different ritual of childhood plays itself out. Perhaps it will be in El Paso, at a shopping mall; or in Gilroy, at a food festival; or in Denver, at a school. Having heard gunshots, and been lucky enough to survive, children emerge to be shepherded to safety by their parents, their teachers, or heavily-armed police officers. They are always frightened. Some will be crying. But almost all of them know what is happening to them, and what to do. Mass shootings are by now a standard part of American life. Preparing for them has become a ritual of childhood. It’s as American as Monday Night Football, and very nearly as frequent.
The United States has institutionalized the mass shooting in a way that Durkheim would immediately recognize. As I discovered to my shock when my own children started school in North Carolina some years ago, preparation for a shooting is a part of our children’s lives as soon as they enter kindergarten. The ritual of a Killing Day is known to all adults. It is taught to children first in outline only, and then gradually in more detail as they get older. The lockdown drill is its Mass. The language of “Active shooters”, “Safe corners”, and “Shelter in place” is its liturgy. “Run, Hide, Fight” is its creed. Security consultants and credential-dispensing experts are its clergy. My son and daughter have been institutionally readied to be shot dead as surely as I, at their age, was readied by my school to receive my first communion. They practice their movements. They are taught how to hold themselves; who to defer to; what to say to their parents; how to hold their hands. The only real difference is that there is a lottery for participation. Most will only prepare. But each week, a chosen few will fully consummate the process, and be killed.
A fundamental lesson of Sociology is that, in the course of making everyday life seem orderly and sensible, arbitrary things are made to seem natural and inevitable. Rituals, especially the rituals of childhood, are a powerful way to naturalize arbitrary things. As a child in Ireland, I thought it natural to take the very body of Christ in the form of a wafer of bread on my tongue. My own boy and girl, in America, think it natural that a school is a place where you must know what to do when someone comes there to kill the children.
Social science also teaches us something about how rituals end, although not enough. The most important step is to kindle a belief that there are other ways to live, other forms that collective life can take. That can be surprisingly hard to do, because a side-effect of ritual life is that participation in it powerfully reinforces its seeming inescapability, even when people are uncertain or disbelieving of the sense or meaning of what is happening. That is why change, when it comes, often comes suddenly and unexpectedly, as people finally acknowledge not just privately in ones and twos but publicly to one another that what they have been doing amounts to an empty parody that no-one really believes. A further difficulty is that this sort of sudden, collective collapse is in many ways the good outcome. A worse one is when solidarity is replaced with its bitter sibling, schism. Instead of competition or conflict within some framework that opponents are nevertheless bound to, real schism yields much of the febrile, effervescent energy of collective solidarity, but delivers few of its stabilizing benefits.
It’s traditional to say that there are “no easy answers”, but this is not really true. Everywhere groups face the problem of holding themselves together. Every society has its enormous complex of institutions and weight of rituals that, through the sheer force of mutual expectation and daily habit, bring that society to life. But not every society has successfully institutionalized the mass shooting. Only one place that has done that, deliberately and effectively. The United States has chosen, and continues to choose, to enact ritual compliance to an ideal of freedom in a way that results in a steady flow of blood sacrifice. This ritual of childhood is not a betrayal of “who we are” as a country. It is what America has made of itself, how it worships itself, and how it makes itself real.