Lone wolf. Acted alone. Crazed individual. Isolated incident.
These are a few of the generic media tagline about the profiles of the Las Vegas terrorist Stephen Paddock. They ignore the white supremacy that should label Paddock as a terrorist. They also, by and large, miss the bigger picture.
Recent stories by the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post have detailed how terrorists plotted for years on how to turn their sick twisted fantasies into walking nightmares. Again, these stories have framed these people as misanthropic. In reality, they’re the product of an industry.
The NRA exists to sell weapons to the American public. I cannot say that loudly enough: The NRA exists to sell weapons to the American public. It is only fitting that they are against any type of gun control and that they stoke the fears of paranoid people to buy more guns. It explains why three percent of our population owns almost half of our nation’s firearms and it explains why these shootings occur. They’re not isolated incidents that just so happen to take place over and over again. They’re expected by-products of a larger system that makes money from violence.
It’s not just the NRA that fuels this machine either. BuzzFeed this week produced an amazing investigative piece on how Milo Yiannopoulos, Steve Bannon and the team at Breitbart sought to curate their content. The findings were surprising in some ways, although I shouldn’t have been so naive. Bannon and Co. are definitely racist, but actively worked to position themselves so that they would dogwhistle loudly as hell to their readers (who they knew were Nazis) without drawing the ire of journalists covering journalism. They are opportunists, looking to build a wave of hatred and turn it into cold hard cash. Indeed, the latter seemed like more of the motivation, as the article depicted some details about Milo begging the Mercers (Robert and Rebekah) for money at various points in time.
It’s a strategy straight out of the playbook of Lee Atwater. And it’s one that many journalists, including Olivia Nuzzi of New York Magazine, Mitch Sunderland of Vice and Yashar Ali of the Huffington Post, tolerate and defend.
Silence on this is totally unacceptable: journalism exists to uncover ugly truths so they can be made right. There should be no “one of our own” mentality in this situation. There should be no buddy-buddy on an email chain with people who are GamerGating others. There should be as much effort put into exposing these frauds for who they are as there should be with Harvey Weinstein or Hillary Clinton.
These people are not your friends. By you, I mean me, you and the general public as a whole. There is good journalism and bad journalism, good and bad industries too. But by and large, if we are to make any type of progress in this country, we must continue to focus on improving what needs to be improved in our political and economic schemas.
And that includes focusing on yourself as well. I’m writing from my perspective, but I’m nowhere near perfect. Yet, I’m hopeful that I, and our country, can learn from our mistakes and move forward.