Hate -The Deadly Ammunition

It took two days but the Los Angeles Times asked the question that had bugged me since the first wave of “the worst mass shooting in U.S. history” headlines flamed around the world.
That was on Sunday, June 12, when 49 human beings were killed and 53 other seriously wounded by a lone gunman sentencing to death or mutilation anyone who did not share his religious beliefs. In its early editions the Times referred to the massacre as “the deadliest in American history” and then to its credit took a deep breath of reflection and on Tuesday, June 14, asked in headline: “The worst mass shooting? A look back at massacres in U.S. history.”
It was comforting to see a leading newspaper putting the brakes on hysterical reporting by reminding its readers that ghastly though the slaughter of the innocents enjoying a Saturday night dance in Orlando, Florida was, it was not the worst bloody massacre in U.S. history – or the first. I say comforting because indeed it is in a world where media tends to rush to inflammatory headlines in times of disaster thus cultivating fear when it should be urging reflective calm.
Even as I praise the LA Times for bringing some perspective to the Orlando tragedy it must be noted it does so with some reluctance and quotes Grant Duwe, director of research and the Minnesota Department of Corrections, as saying “the term mass shooting is imprecise”. The argument is advanced that the actions of a lone shooter intent on slaughter and terror in the name of God rates different terminology than wholesale slaughter by military or civilian authorities in the name of justice.
“By that definition” wrote reporter Laura J. Nelson “the Pulse nightclub shooting is the deadliest mass public shooting in U.S. history.”
To her credit she then quotes law professor Ariel Gross writing in an op-ed piece of the Wall Street Journal (June 14): “It is important to put the Pulse shooting in historical context not to minimize the terror wreaked by a disturbed and bigoted individual’s easy access to military-grade weapons, but to recognize that gun culture in the U.S. has gone hand in hand with violent hatred for a long time.”
Eye witnesses tell us the executioner at the Pulse nightclub just sprayed the room then coldly killed many of the wounded.
From Wounded Knee in 1890, Captain Edward S. Godfrey, U.S. 7th Cavalry reported: “I know my men did not aim deliberately (at the Miniconjou-Latoka natives they had surrounded) and they were greatly excited. I don’t believe they saw their sights (aimed their guns). They fired rapidly but it seemed to me only a few seconds till there was not a living thing before us; warriors, squaws, children, ponies and dogs went down before that unaimed fire.” The death toll was eventually estimated at 300 with the bodies of some women and children found two miles from the massacre site, killed as they fled.
Since taking office USA President Barrack Obama has tried to bring some form of control to American gun possession laws without result. Controls might lower gunshot killings, but it wouldn’t end them. For that there would need to be a national conversion to higher ideals.
Brendan Cox, husband of Jo Cox, the 41-year old member of the British House of Commons killed by gun and knife as she walked along a normally safe and peaceful street few days ago told the USA and the world what it needs. Left with two children to care for he said:
“She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love, and two that we all unite to fight the hatred that killed her. Hate does not have a creed, race or religion. It is poisonous.”

One comment

  1. It is only a primitive instinct that directs us to kill those with whom we disagree; either that or a psychosis that inspires atavistic behaviour.

    As an advanced civilization we address differences through debate. And when I read or hear about terrorist murders and car bombings in other parts of the world I am heartened by our civility.

    Yet I am perplexed by the continuous massacres in America.

    Why is civilization so selective?

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