Congressman Kevin McCarthy spun the wheel of empty rationalizations. It came up: “video games.”
It could have landed on “gay marriage,” or “changing gender roles,” or “God removed from schools.” To him, no doubt, “video games” sounded fresh.
Whether he realized it or not, in his empty rationalization, McCarthy, R-Trumpland, used one word that could not be more pertinent: “dehumanizing.”
In the wake of so much death in El Paso and Dayton, the House minority leader cited video games for “dehumanizing individuals.”
It’s true; death treated as sport offends the senses. However, if you’re troubled by dehumanization, look no further than what our president says.
“Invasion,” “animals,” “rapists and murderers,” “rat-infested,” “shit-hole countries.”
The better to dehumanize people and places.
Look at the sub-human treatment authorized by this administration and endorsed by supporters: children in cages, families ripped to pieces, refugees treated like drug-runners.
What’s happened at the border – and we’re not talking here about 22 people shot dead for the color of their skin – offers a fulsome means of calling out those whose smug rejoinder to the Black Lives Matter movement is, “All lives matter.”
All lives? You don’t mean it.
You couldn’t care less, for instance, about the tearful children in Mississippi who became instant orphans in the massive ICE raids that took away their parents by the hundreds on the same day our president visited Dayton and El Paso.
By the way, the undocumented, brown-skinned people are invaders, but those who profit from their labor are just good businessmen.
Corporations are people, say conservatives and their judicial heroes, but the same classification – human – can’t be afforded “them” by those with a broad-based animus:
Dehumanized: 22 shot dead in El Paso because of the color of their skin.
Dehumanized: 11 shot dead at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
Dehumanized: Nine African-Americans shot dead in a Charleston, S.C., church.
Trump called for a “total and complete” shutdown of Muslims entering the country. When the matter went to court, he walked back those comments a baby step. But others didn’t equivocate. His horrific theme begat a wave of arson and vandalism at mosques across our country.
“All lives matter.” It sounds good coming from white-flight communities and out in the hinterland where a world of difference is another planet entirely.
It is telling that the highest level of concern about immigration is out in those places where diversity is an abstraction.
In the meantime, places where such diversity is a reality have little appetite for Trump or his brand of racism, much less the kind of racism that would drive a gunman hundreds of miles to kill.
Is Trump to blame for that man’s actions? The point is immaterial. Trump didn’t order anyone to kill. However, he helped the killer’s thought process by dehumanizing whole swaths of people.
At this point, few could argue that, as Joe Biden said after the killings in El Paso and Ohio, “We have a president with a toxic tongue who has publicly and without unapologetically embraced the political strategy of hate, racism and division.”
Unless one demonstrates it otherwise, “all lives matter” is an empty claim.
What matters? Tax cuts that help those who don’t need any. Policies sculpted by the religious right. Dictums that eviscerate environmental laws and leave public lands at risk.
Oh, and don’t forget that most precious of all considerations, that firearm. Know for sure that the NRA is not letting Trump forget it right now.
In the words of a T-shirt seen the other day:
“All guns matter.”
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young now lives in Colorado.