What Lessons Have We Learned From the Buffalo Shooting?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar / Substack
What Lessons Have We Learned From the Buffalo Shooting? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. (photo: Dan Winters/NYT)

Thoughts. Prayers. Rinse. Repeat.

An 18-year-old heavily armed kid deliberately targeted Black people when he entered a Buffalo grocery store and started shooting. He killed 10, wounded 3. Of the 13 victims, 11 were Black.

We are shocked. We are saddened. We are horrified.

Or are we?

Because there are two different we’s here. There’s We Americans, and as such we are indeed shocked and saddened and horrified that this could happen in our free and progressive country.

Then there’s We Targets. We who often are the victims of personal or political violence. We who are targets of the mentally ill, the sexually frustrated, the politically inadequate, the emotionally stunted. We who are marginalized based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

Why us? Because we are the visibly vulnerable whose basic constitutional rights are under daily attack by politicians and pundits rabble-rousing for votes or money or both. All this finger-pointing and fear-fanning sends the conscious and subconscious message that because we are more vulnerable we are also less valuable. If our rights are disposable, why wouldn’t we be?

“We” are not shocked. Not at all. It’s not like we didn’t see it coming. Again.

What we are is frustrated. We are outraged. We are betrayed. We are weary.

We are used to it, but not complacent about it.

Violence against women, Asians, Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ+, and immigrants has risen in the U.S. the past few years. That display of public hatred has emboldened Republican lawmakers to systematically go after not the perpetuators of violence, but the targeted groups. Whether it’s banning Critical Race Theory (the mythological monsters squatting under desks at our schools), banning discussion of LGBTQ+ issues, or banning abortion, they are happy to jump on the bandwagon to belittle and disrespect all these groups. We’re already Targets. Not much effort for some to take the next step to murder.

Now, we can blame the violence on the mental health issues, but the mentally ill are still being nudged toward acquiring targets to express their illness. Enter the likes of Fox News’ most popular Tucker Carlson and his promotion of the Great Replacement Theory, which the Buffalo gunman extolled in his manifesto. GRT warns that immigrants of color are being brought into the US to add to the rosters of the Democratic Party to overpower Whites at the voting booth. It also stokes the fear that People of Color will mix so much with Whites that Whites will be bred out of existence. Though after the Buffalo shooting Carlson tried to back-pedal, this video compilation that you can watch below shows the many times he pushed GRT.

According to The New York Times, Carlson has broadcast the theory that liberals are encouraging immigration in order to dominate the electorate in more than 400 episodes of his show since 2016.

I’m not saying censor Carlson or Fox or that they are responsible for the shootings. But neither are their hands completely clean. They have proven over the years that profit is their god and they will make no apologies or take any responsibilities for the deadly consequences. Remember how much they mocked vaccines and masks and shutdowns, even as COVID-19 was killing off their own audience?

Still, what if Tucker Carlson and his ilk didn’t pimp the Great Replacement Theory to create a warm and fuzzy incubator to grow the twisted ideas that appeal to these killers? What if they thought, “Even though our audience loves nutjob conspiracy theories, maybe we are doing harm to our country by promoting them…Nah!” Instead, America to them is a giant ATM machine and their PIN code is SCREWU.

What lessons have we learned from the Buffalo shootings? None.

Stay tuned for the next mass shooting of people with crosshairs already on their backs.

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