Is there a politics to mass shootings?

Is there a politics to mass shootings?
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Is there a politics to mass shootings?

The mainstream news media covered the killings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas far differently than the  news media covered the killings the same weekend in Chicago. Though the circumstances were different, with individual suspects involved in Dayton and El Paso and multiple suspects involved in multiple incidents in Chicago, the death tolls by gun violence are staggering

By Ray Hanania

If you listened to former sexist “Man Show” host Jimmy Kimmel explain it, President Donald Trump was personally responsible for the massacres that took place in Dayton, Ohio and in El Paso, Texas.

I don’t think I have ever heard Kimmel or other hypocrite national pundits or major media focus on the killings that take place nearly every weekend in Chicago as emotionally as they covered the others. The fact is the national pundits and news media don’t treat gun violence the same way and I think it is specifically because of politics.

Last weekend, 59 people were shot in Chicago and seven were killed. When reporting on the Chicago deaths, there doesn’t seem to be a political aspect to it. Kimmel doesn’t go on a political rant attacking politicians he disagrees with, and neither do most of the other pundits and national media.

Police car, this one from Chicago. Photo courtesy WIkipedia

Police car, this one from Chicago. Photo courtesy WIkipedia

It took two mass shootings outside of Chicago however, to push Chicago out of the murder spotlight, and into near obscurity, at least on the national level where no one seems to cvare when people in Chicago are murdered.

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A gunman killed nine people and wounded 27 others outside a crowded bar in Dayton, Ohio. That shooting became the focus of a major political debate not just about the ownership of automatic weapons but also the foundation for heightened political attacks blaming the massacre on President Donald Trump.

The same was true for the shooting in El Paso, Texas, where a gunman killed 22 people and injured two dozen more at a Walmart retail store. Trump was blamed for that, too, and the incident sparked a wave of false social media reports of threats to other Walmarts around the country.

Why are the individual incident mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso more important than the weekly pattern of mass shootings and killings that take place in Chicago?

True, one person was involved in the Dayton and El Paso massacres, and dozens in Chicago were suspected as killers – although we don’t know who the killers are in many cases because we can’t find any of them and homeowners in these crime infested neighborhoods seem to do more through their silence to protect the gangbangers than they do to point them out.

Is the answer politics? Is the answer that Dayton and El Paso were convenient ways to attack Trump and or excessively light policies on ownership of semi-automatic weapons? Is it because Chicago is a Democratic, led by a Liberal Mayor Lori Lightfoot who seems to think the police are more responsible than the community silence for the local killings?

Kimmel wasn’t on TV expressing concern or pointing fingers of blame in Chicago where 59 people shot and 7 seven killed happens nearly every weekend.

So far this year, more than 1,636 people have been shot in Chicago and it continues to rise. Chicago’s numbers are frightening, and far worse than what we saw, as tragic as they were, in Dayton and El Paso.

Chicago has seen 2,948 shooting victims in 2018, 3,463 in 2017 and 4,351 in 2016. During those same years, in 2018 561 Chicagoans were killed, 660 in 2017 and 777 in 2016.

What? That’s not a story for the national news media or pundits like Kimmel, or Kimmel’s colleague on what I call “The Hate Show” with Stephen Colbert?

The fact is that every week more people are shot and killed in Chicago and it just doesn’t seem like anyway cares. I think it’s because the bleeding-heart liberals don’t want to keep Chicago’s shootings and murder rates as a “tragedy,” rather than the urgent powerful politically empowered effort to turn Dayton and El Paso into political benefit for the anti-Trump movement.

I’m not saying Trump is right. He’s not always right. His language is loose and even stupid sometimes. But is that a reason to close your eyes to Chicago’s murders while augmenting and fueling the political fire in the killings in Dayton and El Paso?

In the end, people are dying, whether they were killed by one suspect or many suspects. I understand the ratio of killings is an aspect of the story – one person killing nine people or 22 people is different from a dozen people killing seven and injuring 59.

But to take one and turn it into partisan political cannon fodder while ignoring another street gang crime wave because of partisan favor is disgusting, hypocritical and an example of what is wrong with our society today.

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

Click here to listen to Ray's Political Podcast. 

Hanania's columns are archived on his personal website at RayHanania.com. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com.
Ray Hanania

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