Isolation and political divisions are turning America's youths into killers

Isolation and political divisions are turning America's youths into killers
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By now it should be obvious to most people that mass killings do not take place in a vacuum. They are driven by the same moral struggles we often call the “human condition.” So, while the sad, senseless massacres on our soil are troubling, they also are emotionally understandable. An undeniable belief in God can provide a foundation to arbitrate our decisions. Without this foundation, we are condemned to live formless lives. We become so heartless and lacking in conscience that we can destroy human life without care.

As we celebrate our progress in technology and science, these unfortunately have a devastating price tag. Parents and communities have become so disconnected from their children that oftentimes they are like strangers. Then when young, lonely assassins carry out mass murders, seemingly for no reason, family and friends may be as shocked as the larger society.

The challenge we face is not whether to place greater restrictions on firearms. The challenge is our ability to connect with each other on a human level, devoid of the coverings of race, ideology and sexual orientation. It really comes down to values. The values we instill in our children are those they will exhibit in the world. And if we fail to instill values, the world will do it for us, often to our detriment.  

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Only morality animates our lives with meaning. Although the feeling of disconnection among youths long has been a motivating factor for mass shooters — dating to the Columbine High School massacre — there is something deeper at work here. The recent shootings in El Paso and Dayton appear to be the handiwork of young men who lost their connection to society and desperately sought validation and notoriety through death. Before carrying out his sociopathic attacks in El Paso, the killer wrote a detailed manifesto that provides the broad outline of an ideological battle he was struggling to reconcile.  

Lines from the 21-year-old killer’s 2,300-word screed, posted on the anonymous 8chan website, indicate the shooter may have truly believed that his actions were a just response to “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” He rationalized his senseless act with the excuse: “I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement.” 

The reason the shooter used the word “invasion” to refer to migrants seeking to cross the U.S. border should come as no surprise: President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE, members of his administration and the news media often have repeated the “invasion” theme. Trump has allowed the rhetoric to grow even more caustic, failing to curb a crowd that actually called for the killing of immigrants at a recent Florida rally. This sends a message that such malevolence will be tolerated, if not encouraged, in the name of curbing illegal immigration.

In the aftermath of the 2016 shootings at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, many wondered how an U.S.-born person with no substantial ties to an organized Islamic terror group could have been radicalized enough to carry out such a despicable terrorist attack on home soil. And the answer was clear. Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS but was not radicalized by his parents, siblings or anyone in his immediate group of associates. His mind was poisoned via the airwaves — messages he received online. This also seems to be the case with the young man who committed the El Paso massacre. As in Mateen’s case, the El Paso shooter’s relatives say they were just as clueless about what he was planning as any member of the public.

But in other cases, there were obvious signs that something terrible could happen. Classmates recall the Dayton shooter as a violent misogynist who repeatedly threatened violence against women. Whether he targeted her or not, the shooter killed his own sister in the rampage. Having been expelled once from high school for posting a “hit list” of fellow students and others in a school restroom stall, it seems the writing literally was on the wall. One of his classmates wondered why law enforcement allowed this guy to get away with dangerous, abusive behavior until it was too late.

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The “otherizing” of immigrants as “criminals,” “bad hombres” and “invaders” makes it easier for Americans to tolerate inhumane treatment and even murder. It is, perhaps, only a coincidence but recent surveys indicate that counties where Trump held rallies in 2016 experienced a 226 percent increase in hate crimes. Just last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray identified domestic terrorism driven by white identity extremists as being a major threat. We clearly have a problem with worsening racial hatred in America.

No one in the Trump administration would consciously condone mass murders; that would be truly beyond the pale. But the president should want to be a consistent voice for reason and calm. We should all be concerned that a fragile, disconnected soul possibly misconstrued President Trump’s rhetoric regarding immigrants in a way that may have caused him to act so viciously. At his rallies, President Trump should always shut down any perceived bigotry, hateful chants or violent threats against others. As he did on Monday, the president should use his bully pulpit to repudiate all white supremacy — before another mentally deranged person starts a fire that consumes America. 

Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is the owner and manager of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the Year. He is the author of “Reawakening Virtues.”