…instead of our obsession with guns and Trump’s “invasion” rhetoric.
There were two domestic terrorist attacks carried out within 24-hours. A 21-year-old white male drove over nine hours to attack a retail store in El Paso, TX that is frequented by both U.S. and Mexican citizens. He was fond of retweeting racist rhetoric by Donald Trump. He killed 20 people and injured two dozen more. And in Dayton, Ohio, another mass shooting was carried out in front of a popular bar by another white male who purchased his gun, a .223 caliber weapon online with multiple 100 round clips. His own sister was among one of his victims. These shootings make the 249th and 250th mass shootings in the U.S. in 2019 alone.
The El Paso domestic terrorist was captured alive. He uploaded his anti-Hispanic manifesto to 8chan, but it was taken down shortly after, but not before others saved it. It can still be found online, along with his retweets of Trump calling Mexican and Central Americans at our borders as an “invasion”. In the shooter’s manifesto, the terrorist says,
Though he also mentions in his manifesto that his ideology isn’t Trump’s fault, he seems to have been emboldened by the anti-Hispanic rhetoric that Trump and others preach in their rallies. Much of the wording in his manifesto is commonly used by Trump and other far-right conservative pundits—a form of indoctrination via media. Researcher of Social Media and Extremism, Natalie Martinez found that Trump had about 2,200 Facebook ads that mentioned the word “invasion” in reference to Mexican and Central Americans at the southern border.
The motives behind the Dayton, Ohio shooter’s terrorist attack isn’t clear just yet. Though, from his social media postings he may have been an anti-fascist. Although Twitter was quick to remove the account, Heavy was able to investigate and determine the Dayton shooter’s Twitter account. According to Heavy, his tweets revealed opposite views than the El Paso shooter.
The Dayton terrorist was on the extreme left of the political spectrum and the El Paso terrorist was on the extreme right of the political spectrum. So, what do the El Paso and Dayton shooters have in common?
They were both young, white males
Extreme beliefs in the righteousness of their own ideology
Both expressed hatred on their social media profiles
An affinity for guns
Access to automatic and semi-automatic rifles
What does this have to do with violence in video games? Nothing. However, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who also receives money from the NRA went on Fox and Friends to blame the dehumanization of people in video games for the violence—not the racist rhetoric of politicians who dehumanizes minorities—not American gun culture—not white male anger—but video games. The same video games that other advanced nations indulge in, yet do not have the same epidemic of racism and gun violence that the U.S. has.
While there are many video games that portray extreme violence, experts have repeatedly refuted claims that gun violence correlates to violence in video games. McCarthy told Fox and Friends, "To have a game of shooting individuals and others, I’ve always felt that is a problem for future generations and others.” McCarthy isn’t the only politician to do this. In fact, scapegoating video games as the cause of violent behavior has been a political go-to since the first fighting game was born 25 years ago. Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said, “Video games teach young people to kill.”
It makes sense for politicians who are endorsed by the National Rifle Association to do whatever they can to make sure the conversation does not turn into a conversation about gun laws, in particular, more stringent background checks and enforcing the laws that already exist to include online purchases.
While violent video games certainly are not the cause of mass shootings, the behavior of video gamers does seem to reflect what is happening in the real world—ideas, attitudes, prejudices. But that’s a discussion for another time. Right now, we need politicians to figure out why so many young, white males are angry to the point of becoming domestic terrorists, yet we continue with the dehumanization of minorities. Thoughts and prayers is not a viable strategy and neither is blaming video games.