Racism, White Nationalism, & Guns – We Know Where We Are.


A Lot of Wise and Angry Words Have Flowed in Recent Days. They are Right.


You know those old movie scenes? The ones where you see a terrible crash coming in slow motion. Welcome to America, today. Racism and gun violence are not exactly new burdens for us as a country. But we have never, I would posit, been at a place like we find ourselves now.

Much of what follows is my attempt to cite some of the best I have seen written in recent days. I am glad to yield space to others who have spoken well for us all.

But first, a few framing observations:

  • Donald Trump is a racist and a race baiter. This is by temperament, by choice, and by political calculation. We really can no longer pretend otherwise, as much as we would like to do so. At times like this we need courageous and clear leadership at the national level. It will not come from this White House – ever. If you have any doubts, watch tapes of Trump’s last two “rallies” and his pathetic public statement on August 5th. This guy is a cancer on our body politic. I hoped early on that this was just blind-spot insensitivity. Not a chance.
  • Violent racism has been with us forever, but now, with all the power and reach of social media. Lone wolves are no longer alone. It is breath takingly easy to reach out and recruit the angry, the feeble thinking, the troubled. Words have impact. So does community, of any kind. The vast majority of deaths by gun in America in recent years has not been at the hands of Muslim extremists. They have been at the hands of white nationalists. They are killing us, all over the country.
  • There is no great mystery here. We know well the steps to take to begin treating this national illness. It seems that only in gun violence do we have people saying if you can’t fix everything at once, don’t fix anything. That is, of course, pure nonsense. We now have more guns than we have people in this country. Common sense legislation and law enforcement is needed.

Who knows? Maybe this time, finally, people will refuse to let their governments stand by and do nothing. I am not optimistic, but I am hopeful. People in recent days are shouting down politicians crying out “Do Something.” Time to be one issue voters, folks. You support reasonable legislation, or you lose my vote and my money. Your opponent gains both; I am not just sitting this one out.

  • The enablers are every bit as guilty at Mr. Trump, in some ways even more so. Mitch McConnell single handedly holds up election security and common-sense gun safety. But he has company. Every legislator or other elected official at every level can no longer hide. Time for America to choose sides. These people do not represent anything approaching the country we should be.
  • People speak often of the need to temper anger. That sometimes sadness is the better response. In this case, I beg to differ. Righteous anger is exactly what is called for. Political retribution is demanded. Stay angry until justice is served.

I refer you to the following “best of” articles I have seen in recent days. The headlines along speak volumes. You can read them all in less than 30 minutes. Invest the time.

And be angry.

No, Mr. Trump. Guns are the Reason for Mass Shootings – WP Editorial Board


On guns, America is ‘exceptional’- It isn’t some kind of unfathomable mystery why this happens here and almost nowhere else.


Trump’s Speech was Like a Hostage Video


Trump Can’t Decry Racism and White Supremacy if He is Their Chief Promoter


From The Weekly Sift:“Once again, Republicans respond to gun violence with “prayers” rather than legislation. But why should God help a country that is so unwilling to help itself?”

The NY Times – “Conservatism Has a Violence Problem. “

“Last year, 39 of the 50 killings committed by political extremists, according to the Anti-Defamation League, were carried out by white supremacists.

Another eight were committed by killers with anti-government views. Over the past 10 years, right-wing extremists were responsible for more than 70 percent of extremist-related killings.

“Right-wing extremist violence is our biggest threat,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the A.D.L., has written. “The numbers don’t lie.”


The Wall Street JournalWhite Nationalists Pose Challenge to Investigators. Home-grown terrorists, some motivated by white-nationalist ideologies, often fly under the radar.


The NY Times – The Right Way to Understand White Nationalist Terrorism.

Attacks like that in El Paso are not an end in themselves. They are a call to arms, toward something much more frightening.


Bill Clontz, Founder, Agents of Reason    Bill Clontz

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3 replies to Racism, White Nationalism, & Guns – We Know Where We Are.

  1. I have many concerns regarding violence of any kind and will only address a few here: There is a lot of misplaced blame. We need more education on safety in any situation. We have to be aware, not let our guard down, and have a plan out in worst case scenarios. There are other preemptive measures we could have access to. Not one is a cure all or quick fix. Violence is a multifaceted problem and will require multifaceted approaches to try to handle.

    I don’t believe politicians in good or grave times.

    I have not done a study, but it seems to me mass shooters are trying to prove a point or more and are twisted in their thinking. Hardworking people and the oppressed are not planning and plotting to cause harm. We are trying to survive. We are not carrying out actions to go out in a blaze of glory.

  2. Racism is more real, powerful and deadly than I ever thought possible in America. And I don’t even know how to talk about it. I don’t want to be silent about it anymore. Baited racism is killing us and we need to see how we are letting this happen. Thank you for helping us slow down and take a better look, Bill.

    • Right you are, Joanne. It’s deeper and tougher to crack than I ever thought. Then again, we’ve not been on the receiving end, so we are surprised when it confronts us.

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