As we continue to witness a rise in white domestic terrorism in this country, Louisiana’s Republican U.S. Congressmen remain tone deaf as to the root cause of the mass violence sweeping our nation.
Despite evidence showing that the overwhelming majority of the approximately 32 mass shootings this year were carried out by white nationalists, Louisiana’s U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy have failed to properly diagnose the problem. In fact, not a single Louisiana Republican U.S. Representative condemned the dangerous rhetoric by the leader of the free world, nor did they offer sensible solutions to the rise in gun violence across the nation.
In a Facebook post to his followers in the hours after the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, Senator John Kennedy responded saying he is sending “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families. After at least 32 recorded mass shootings in the U.S. this year, we need more than the same platitudes of thoughts and prayers; we need an honest conversation about the problem and decisive action with real solutions.
There is no question that if these crimes had been carried out by a Muslim American, Republican lawmakers would be heeding calls to mobilize the U.S. military to combat radical Islam, but because the suspect was a white male, our society merely pities the perpetrators, dismissing such heinous acts of violence as being rooted in mental health issues.
While it’s important to acknowledge and address our nation’s mental health crises, it’s also absolutely imperative that we not ignore the motive behind the violence so we can combat this crises with substantive solutions that address the root causes of such violence.
As a medical doctor, one would think that Senator Bill Cassidy would seek to find the proper diagnosis in order to adequately treat the illness. However, when it comes to speaking earnestly about the string of violence carried out by white nationalists in this country, Cassidy continues to disregard the underlying motives. Instead, just days prior to the recent mass shootings, Cassidy voiced support for a bill that would label Antifa (a collection of unorganized anti-fascist groups) a domestic terrorist group, despite, according to the the Anti-Defamation League, there have not been any known murder related incidents attributed to Antifa.
While we should not necessarily condone the tactics employed by Antifa to combat white supremacy, it’s also critical that we do not assign a moral equivalency between Antifa and the white supremacy groups they oppose.
What was Antifa’s role in the mass shooting in El Paso or Dayton, Senator Cassidy? What was Antifa’s role in the Dylann Roof massacre in Charlestown, South Carolina? And so on.
Antifa is not the problem, and if we continue to ignore the problem, it will only get worse. In a majority of the mass shootings carried out in the last two years, the suspects have identified as white nationalists in their respective manifestos, and in several instances, explicitly supported this President’s twisted, bigoted and deplorable rhetoric veiled as patriotism.
Shortly after the tragic mass shootings, although Senator Cassidy and Louisiana U.S. Congressmen Steve Scalise appeared to come a little closer to acknowledging an issue with domestic terrorism possibly radicalized by hate groups across the country, neither acknowledged the President’s dangerous rhetoric in playing a role in such violence.
If Senator Bill Cassidy and other Louisiana Republican U.S. Representatives truly care about staving off this tide of mass violence, they will condemn the President’s harmful and incendiary rhetoric that has stoked the flames of hate and violence. Furthermore, they will finally call for meaningful gun reform to include bringing back universal background checks and banning assault weapons. If they truly cared, they would recognize that the greatest threat to our Democracy right now is Donald Trump’s vile rhetoric that continues to sow the seeds of discord by blaming immigrants and minorities for the white man’s problems. And yes, we also need gun reform now because we cannot afford dangerous assault weapons to fall into the hands of white domestic terrorists.
Scott Ploof, 35, is the Founder and Publisher of Big Easy Magazine. At the age of 23, Scott ran for State Representative in Louisiana House District 73. Prior to launching Big Easy Magazine, Scott’s work has been published in various other publications across the state. You can find more of his work here.