America needs to look within: Reflections on racism and gun laws

Many Americans believe there is a Jewish conspiracy to turn Whites into a minority, that non-whites are actively producing more children to increase their numbers

America needs to look within: Reflections on racism and gun laws

Abhijit Shanker

Earlier this week, an 18-year-old white man gunned down ten people in a mall in Buffalo, New York. He live streamed the killings, and his victims were mostly blacks.

The armed terrorist had been treated for mental illness a year ago, yet he was able to arm himself with sophisticated weapons and use them on innocent victims. Just how does this happen in an educated society? Mostly because this young man had seen bigotry being normalized from the White House since he was 12. That’s the year when Donald Trump came to power and the repressed racism found a voice, promoted by news channels such as the Fox news which serve to normalize conspiracy theories such as the ‘Great Replacement theory’.

In very simple words, the Great replacement theory says that there exists a Jewish conspiracy to help migrate as many non-whites as possible to the currently white majority countries, to turn them into a minority. The believers also think the non-whites are actively producing more children to increase their numbers, to supersede the white majority.

This is not very different from bigotry that exists in many other countries, where the minorities are routinely blamed for everything that is wrong with the society or the economy – jobs, inflation and lack of medical facilities can all be deviated from, and blamed upon the ‘other’, the minority.

It turns out that even in the world’s richest country, this can be used to garner votes, to indoctrinate young minds, to create an enemy when there is none.

The internet has done nothing to stop the spread of this hatemongering, and neither have the social media giants. Fueled by television channels and radio shows which perpetuate this conspiracy theory, this stream of thinking has quickly turned into one of the most dangerous attacks against the minorities in the United States.

A recent study by the New York Times showed that over the past five years, Tucker Carlson, the Fox news personality, has emphasized 400 times that Democrats have sought demographic change through immigration. Carlson remains one of the most popular television hosts in the United States, and his show is watched by over 5 million viewers every night.

It's bewildering that no US President in the last few decades has had the will to change gun laws, or to make procuring arms difficult, especially for the mentally challenged. I am not resorting to the lone wolf theory – a euphemism that the US media hides behind every time a white male kills the other. But I don’t see anything happening in terms of legislation.

A lot of noise is made every time people are killed, but the voices die down, they recuse themselves in a week, the news media moves on to the next headline. Leaving the families to grieve, sometimes for the rest of their lives. It is not a coincidence that the United States ranks first in the number of school shootings in the world. In 2015, the UK newspaper, The Guardian, claimed that toddlers killed more people than the terrorists. Seven years later, nothing has changed, with 2018 being the year with the most mass shootings.

There are many examples globally – countries where procuring arms is almost impossible. Countries like Singapore, Australia, China, Japan, United Kingdom, or Germany. In Japan, the only guns you can procure are air rifles and shotguns, and it typically takes two years or more to get a license. But we are deviating from the original issue at hand. Having strict gun laws is one thing, racism is another. America is dealing with both simultaneously. While it focuses on providing arms assistance to Ukraine in its fight against its tormentor, it needs to abate arms supplies to its own citizens.

Yet again the flow of ‘thoughts and prayers’ for the victims has begun, and no concrete action seems to be in sight. This story of restricting gun laws has been going around for decades now, and has claimed the lives of kindergarteners, and middle school students, the minorities and the immigrants. And yet, the politicians who perpetuate this thinking roam freely, airing their views on national television, on radio podcasts, in newspaper editorials.

Two days after the most recent killings, the third highest ranking Republican, Elise Stefanik, reiterated that the Democrats continue to fill the country with immigrants. Stefanik wrote on Twitter that “Democrats desperately want wide open borders and mass amnesty for illegals allowing them to vote.’’

Darwin would be squirming in his grave – we sure seem to be going backwards in our quest for evolution.

(The author is the founder of EdTech Startup ZEducatr and a former Chief of Communications with UNICEF in New York, where he worked for more than a decade. Views are personal)

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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