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Republicans are making clear they believe mass murder is completely acceptable
Anyone who thinks that any mass shooting will be the turning point isn't understanding what is going on in the radicalized conservative mindset
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After yet another horrific massacre—this time at an outlet mall over the weekend in Allen, Texas, in which eight people were slaughtered by a man with an AR-15—we heard the usual Republican responses.
Thoughts and prayers, first, and then a lament about "the real problem," defined as "mental illness." But as the number of shootings day after day causes outrage as well as media coverage that demands a response from Republicans, they’re being more brutally honest, implicitly stating mass death is acceptable. It’s the price to pay, they appear to be saying, for being able to carry around weapons of war.
And that raises the issue of why they so fervently want to arm white people as they see the country changing demographically, while many mass shooters are inspired by white supremacist ideologies.
GOP Congressman Keith Self, who represents Allen, told CNN that anyone who says prayers aren’t enough doesn’t believe in an "almighty god who has, who is absolutely in control of our lives." And Governor Greg Abbott told Fox, "People want the quick solution," but "the long-term solution here is to address the mental health issue." He then stated that "America is more divided than we’ve ever been," even though the vast majority of Americans want sensible gun laws.
Self actually seems to be saying that we have to accept that his god "controls our lives," and if god wants people dead, so be it—the only thing you can do is pray for mercy because nothing else will change things or is an acceptable response. It’s bonkers, but it is more honest: We just have to expect and live with mass death.
And it’s in line with Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee saying after the Nashville shooting a few weeks ago, "It’s a horrible situation. And we’re not going to fix it. Criminals are going to be criminals. There’s not a whole heck of a lot you can do about it."
Burchett went on:
And we've got a mental health issue in this country. We need to start addressing it.
..I think we really need to revive up in this country. I think our ministers and our communities of faith need to come together and start preaching about love from the Bible.
Republicans, of course, have done little to deal with mental illness. Texas, for example, where the governor crows on about mental health being the problem, has been ranked as having the worst access to mental health services among the 50 states in 2022 by the non-profit Mental Health America. And, as Vox reports, the radical right has higher priorities than mental health:
Though the governor promised to fund mental health services following the Uvalde shooting last year, he diverted $211 million from the department that oversees mental health issues—more than from any other state agency—to fund his border enforcement program.
This is because their bigotry trumps everything else, but also because the mental illness argument is bullshit. Study after study has shown most people with mental illnesses never become violent, and mentally ill people are more likely to be the targets of violence rather than the perpetrators.
But even if we were to give them the "mental illness" issue, it’s still true, as many have pointed out, that there’s no more mental illness in this country than any other country, but countries around the world don’t have mass shootings like the U.S. does. And that’s simply about access to guns, particularly assault weapons.
And Abbott seems to be being honest about his true beliefs when he says people want a "quick solution," but the "long-term" solution is "mental illness."
He appears to be admitting that a quick solution — even if it would no longer be very quick due to the number of guns in circulation—would be to regulate gun ownership more and ban weapons of war. But then he dismisses the quick solution as something unrealistic and unacceptable, opting for the "long-term" solution, which involves somehow curing mental illness.
Good luck with curing mental illness, which has been with us since the beginning of time. But that’s where they are, and again, mental illness isn’t the issue.
Other conservatives over the weekend were more honest, too, about how people need to accept this amount of danger in their lives and simply prepare for it by arming themselves.
On Fox News, when asked what people in Texas can do to keep themselves safe in a world in which people can carry guns without a permit, Rep. Pat Fallon of Texas responded, "I think law-abiding citizens should carry. Training isn’t required because it’s constitutional carry, but getting some training isn’t a bad idea—to know the laws and how to defend yourself and others properly…The maximum way to be safe is to arm yourself and know how to use a firearm."
And one Fox guest, Alex Coker, whose Twitter bio describes him as a former Army sniper and former CIA special agent, stated:
Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan to kill everyone you meet. Because you never know—you can be at your business workplace, and something you might say could possibly cause somebody to snap because they’ve had a very bad day. You don’t know what kind of day someone’s had. Your words can make the difference between someone having a good day or a bad day. So always speak with kind words to somebody. Your words can make a difference.
Again, this is where they are: Be nice to people because you don’t know if they’re going to snap and pull out a gun. And if they do, make sure you "have a plan to kill everyone you meet."
So anyone who thinks that any one shooting will be the new turning point hasn’t been reading the room among the MAGA extremists. They are perfectly content with mass shootings and senseless deaths if it means arming themselves and being ready.
And what exactly are they preparing for?
Well, that gets us to the white supremacist beliefs of the Allen, Texas, shooter, found online to be praising Hitler, wearing a patch on his jacket with the acronym RWDS, which stands for "right wing death squad,"a popular term among the Proud Boys and other groups and having a swastika tattooed on his chest.
As Trump and MAGA extremists promote white supremacy and warn of demographics changing as well as the "invasion" at the border, we’ve seen more and more people arming themselves. And we’ve seen more and more mass shootings inspired by white supremacist hate.
The radicalized GOP and its followers are accepting mass death and pushing for more laws allowing people to carry guns and weapons of war without a permit because they see a dangerous world in which they will over time be the minority as white people. They’re steeped in white supremacist ideology and ready for war.
When you think of it that way, more shootings aren’t going to make them think it’s time for new laws. Rather, they accept this reality as the price to pay to protect whiteness amid a fear they will in time be the white minority.