The mass shooting of a concert crowd in Las Vegas lengthens the loop of such cultural annihilation on either side of the Atlantic ~ at the Ariana Grand Concert in Manchester in May and in Paris during a similar programme by the US band, the Eagles of Death Metal (November 2015). It would be premature to hazard a guess on whether Sunday night’s perpetrator was an ISIS “soldier”, as almost readily claimed by the Caliphate. Thus far, no such connection has been confirmed by the FBI and instead of jumping to conclusions, it would be rational to await the findings of the investigation, as the CIA has suggested.
The name of the killer, Stephen Craig Padlock, doesn’t exactly suggest an Islamic descent. Close to 48 hours after the butchery ~ an extreme form of mental aberration of a ‘lone wolf’ ~ there is need to clear the fog that has enveloped the deadliest shooting in the United States of America. The ISIS claim has served to make confusion worse confounded within the establishment.
President Donald Trump’s description of the mayhem as “an act of pure evil” is a somewhat feeble response to a horrendous tragedy. He has been remarkably prompt though in announcing a visit to Las Vegas on Wednesday; but eyebrows are bound to be raised over the fact that he took more than a fortnight to visit Puerto Rico, the island in the Caribbean that was recently ravaged by Hurricane Maria. President George Bush did no better when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005. The Puerto Ricans are brown-skinned Spanish speakers.
Although they are American citizens, they have no political representation in Congress and no votes in presidential elections. Such inherent disadvantages have placed them in the second-class category in the fountain-head of libertarian democracy. Death knows no distinction of race and colour, and Mr Trump’s promptitude in scheduling a visit to Las Vegas stems from the city’s predominantly white population. Racialisation in the moment of tragedy spells the difference in responses to the two successive tragedies in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas.
On closer reflection, the right to possess the gun is the thread that runs through all massacres in the US ~ racist or Islamist and irrespective of whether the occupant of the White House is a level headed Democrat or an impetuous Republican. This is the fundamental truism that successive Presidents have not had the nerve to grapple with. The dreadful reality must be that America is a nation where guns are freely available, legally or otherwise.
The rage of the homicidal is embedded in the gun. Congress has consistently refused to consider restrictions on the right of gun ownership.
It is cause for alarm that shares in gun-manufacturing companies increased at the news of the massacre. There is shock and awe in America today over the systematic weakness in its democracy