When Will Enough Be Enough?

There are two things going on with respect to mass shootings in this country. The first should be self evident. It is entirely too easy for anyone to get a hold of an assault weapon and go on a shooting spree. No other country in the world allows its citizens to be served up like a Schmorgers Board in this manner. It’s not because we have mental illness; every country has its share of whack jobs. It’s not because of the violence in video games or movies; other countries have violent video games and movies. It’s because we lack the political will to stand up to the gun lobby; a lobby that, as it turns out, doesn’t even represent the majority of gun owners.

There is no place in America that has been spared the carnage of mass shootings. Churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, malls, movie theaters, even military bases have all been visited by senseless death. Just in the last 24 hours two separate mass shootings have occurred that have so far claimed the lives of 29 people. I say so far, because some of the wounded are still not out of jeopardy.

The NRA is on record as saying that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Well consider that in both Texas and Ohio – two states with open carry laws – the shooter had to have known that there were people who were likely carrying guns on their person, yet that didn’t deter either individual from committing mass murder. That any reasonably intelligent person is still holding water for this inane excuse is beyond me.

But let’s put aside for the moment America’s love affair / obsession with guns that has turned this country into the O.K. Corral. If the sight of children being carried out in body bags isn’t enough to motivate our political leaders – and I use the term leaders loosely – to act, then I suspect nothing will. What I really want to talk about is the second thing that is going here, and that is far more hideous and dangerous.

White Supremacy is on the rise in America and the culprit is residing in the White House. I want to be as clear as I can here. I am not saying that Trump is indirectly responsible for what happened in Gilroy, California and El Paso, Texas. [For now I’ll leave the Dayton, Ohio shooting out of this discussion, since we do not as of yet have a motive for that one. But suffice to say, all three assailants were young white males who were highly impressionable.] What I am saying is that Trump is directly responsible for what happened in Gilroy and El Paso. The blood of those people is undeniably on his hands.

Let’s stop beating around the bush by using terms like racially charged or racially insensitive to describe his blatant racism. When the president of the United States deliberately targets people of color at his rallies and through his Twitter feed, he is sending out a clear and unambiguous message to a certain group of people in this country that has been interpreted by that group as a green light to take matters into their own hands. And that is precisely what we are seeing take place. In my last piece I wrote that “the herd is in full stampede mode and before Trump is done a lot of innocent people are going to get trampled.” The scary part is that I think we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. This will only get worse.

The country is under siege by white supremacists and the cheer leader in chief has done nothing to discourage it. Indeed, he has done just the opposite. His rhetoric has only enflamed it. At one of his hate rallies in May when someone yelled out “shoot them” as a possible solution for dealing with migrants crossing the border, Trump just laughed and said, “Only in the Panhandle can you get away with that.” Well apparently Patrick Crusius – the El Paso shooter – took that as his marching orders.

Please spare me all the “You can’t say that, Peter” bullshit. No other politician in American history has so debased the national discourse as this man. No other president has engaged in racist tropes like this one, at least not openly. Thanks to an unearthed recording, we now know what Ronald Reagan thought of African Americans. But even Reagan would never have dared utter such sentiments in public.

But this man will. Oh, to be sure he’ll never be stupid enough to say the “N” word or refer to blacks as monkeys like Reagan did. But he’ll use every other kind of derogatory word in the dictionary, which, when you think about it, is kind of amusing. Knowing Trump the way we do, it’s hard picturing him even picking up a dictionary, much less reading one. But you get the idea. Even the most ignorant of racists are clever enough not to push the envelope so far as to tear it.

But its his audience that reads him like a book, again pardon the pun. When he made that “both sides have very fine people” comment after the Charlottesville killing, every skin head and KKK maggot in the country knew full well what he meant. Those very fine people he was referring to were chanting, “Jews will not replace us.” Fourteen months later, eleven people were murdered in a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Go ahead, connect the dots; it’s not that hard.

These are no longer dog whistles; they’re clarion calls. And the only question that begs to be answered is when will enough be enough? At what point will the journalists who cover this president come to realization that what they are doing really isn’t journalism? If you’re a reporter and you arrive at the scene of an office fire, you’re required to cover it; you’re not required to go inside the building. If Trump is to politics what kerosine is to a barbecue, then the Fourth Estate has supplied the oxygen.

I have repeatedly called for the print media and the cable news networks of this country to pull the plug on Trump for well over two years now. Others like former CNN anchor Campbell Brown urged them during the 2016 campaign to, at the very least, give him a time out. They chose profits over doing the right thing. And yet those very same reporters who insisted that cutting off Trump was the wrong strategy for dealing with him had absolutely no problem asking Republicans why they refused to put country ahead of party. Apparently irony is a subject that doesn’t get taught much at journalism school.

But I’m asking, no begging, all of you – CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, NPR, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Politico, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, et al – to reconsider. This is no longer just a matter of journalistic integrity. And even if it were, let’s be honest for a moment. Cronkite and Murrow have been dead for years. Their ghosts are not coming back. Nobody is going to lose any sleep if they don’t see Jim Acosta’s mug on TV for a few months.

Tell me what do you hope to gain from giving Trump air time? What probative question of yours do you think he will ever give a truthful answer to? You decided not to show his rallies live. Great, but then you sent a crew anyway and showed snit bits from them. In other words, you did his work for him. If Hitler had had that kind of video editing he’d have won World War II.

Haven’t you figured it out by now that as much as he says he despises the so-called “fake news,” deep down he needs you? He’s like a heroin addict who constantly needs his fix. He’s particularly obsessed with the “failing” New York Times, a publication he’s given almost as many interviews to as Fox and Friends. Ask yourself why. Because without the mainstream media he knows he’s finished. Even that pee brain of his has figured out that he can’t get reelected with just the voters who watch him on Fox News. As he has often said repeatedly, any news is good news.

But if you deprive him of the one thing he craves more than anything else, namely attention, you effectively cut off the oxygen that fuels his hatred. Even better, you take away a valuable conduit that feeds countless, vulnerable and unstable maniacs who don’t need much prodding to fly off the handle and do something reckless, like massacre people. Granted with social media, many of these psychopaths are already joined at the proverbial hip. But without Trump to send his blessings, there’s a chance at least that some of those human time bombs might not go off.

Which brings me to Twitter. I’m on it and I’ve read Trump’s posts. He violates every rule that Twitter purports to have. The only reason he hasn’t been suspended or banned is because he’s the president. That must change. Like that ridiculous DOJ memo that prohibits a sitting president from being prosecuted, it is time for Twitter to stand up and say enough! If any other person wrote the things that he does on Twitter, they wouldn’t just be suspended, they’d be banned for life. Check out this list of people who’ve been banned or suspended from Twitter and look at the reasons. Hasn’t Trump been guilty of some or all of those offenses? Be honest, he’s David Duke with a bigger and better home. Hell, depending on what day of the week it is, he’s Alex Jones.

I understand that what I’m calling for is inherently risky and could have profound consequences. It would also set a dangerous precedent that might be used on future presidents. But I also know that the Constitution is NOT a blank check. Yes, we have freedom of speech in this country, but that freedom doesn’t give us the right to yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater when there’s no fire. And that is precisely what Trump has been doing since he announced he was running for president: yelling “fire” in a theater with over 330 million movie goers.

Consider this: the networks handed Trump almost a billion dollars worth of free advertising in 2016 and look at what happened. If they make that same mistake again, if they give this man the platform he needs to get reelected, it will be too late to do the right thing. The Fourth Estate will be pushing up daisies, right alongside the very same Constitution they swore to a man and woman they were defending.

Author: Peter Fegan

Progressive but pragmatic. Lover of music, die-hard Giants' fan and reluctant Mets' fan. My favorite motto? I'd rather be ruled by a smart Turk than a dumb Christian.