Understanding the right-wing mindset

During my recent US trip, I met an American who I had previously chanced upon knowing only through an exchange of emails. He had read some of my columns especially those against the US attack on Iraq and would occasionally send rebuttals to bolster his arguments that it was a war ‘that was necessary to protect America.’

Our first face-to-face meeting took place barely two days after the high school shooting in Texas, when a 17-year-old student unleashed a hail of bullets that took the lives of 8 other students and 2 teachers and left many others physically injured. The mental trauma that many at that school who witnessed the bloodbath would continue to affect them for the rest of their lives in ways that cannot be precisely measured.

After the initial introduction and pleasantries, my acquaintance immediately went into a tirade about how the media was exploiting the shooting incident to further their liberal agenda. He let it be known in no uncertain words that the problems that America was facing today was due to a liberal media that was fawning over the rights of the minority while ignoring the majority.

I argued with him that what happened at the Texas school shooting had nothing to do with the media, liberal or otherwise. In my opinion, it was the easy access of anyone residing in the US to go and buy semi-automatic guns and use them on defenceless people. Steps to curtail the ease of purchase and access — such as psychological profile screening and stringent background checks were fought in many states and shot down. America hadn’t become more violent. It was just that the people had more access to deadlier guns that could mow down a classroom of kids within seconds through the use of automatic weapons.

He argued that the right to purchase and own guns was protected by the constitution by ‘the first amendment,’ and guaranteed for all Americans. I had to correct him that the first amendment had nothing to do with the trade of arms. Instead it was the second amendment to the US constitution that gave citizens the right to bear arms, the intention being to protect oneself and country from external threats. Shooting down defenceless kids in cold blood was not a threat now was it?

My acquaintance retorted back saying that with ‘these Islamic terrorists running around, Americans had a right to be careful.’ “Look at Daesh and Al Qaida and all these other Islamist groups running around and killing and drowning people in blood. Should we just lay back and let them bring us down? How many terrorist acts have taken place killing innocent people. And Americans also have to protect ourselves from these people coming across the border with their bags of crime and what not.”

Now didn’t we all hear something similar during the last presidential elections? I steered him back to the incident of the shooting wanting to understand how all that he was telling me fit in with the particular incident at the Texas high school. It was a tragedy that had no political or religious undertones, I told him and there were certainly no Islamists involved to the disappointment of many Western pundits who are quick to malign an entire religion based on the dastardly actions of a few deviates.

Gun control issue

He etched out a few more excuses and would not even express condemnation of the incident. I had a suspicion that he was annoyed with all the media attention that was being given to the gun control issue, and like many other Americans would have preferred the shooter to be a Muslim or an Afro-American, which would have somehow justified to him and all those other gun lovers that indeed they were right in their assessment all along. They had to stock themselves up with guns including rapid fire automatic weapons to ‘keep America safe.’ This was not much different than a statement I overheard at a local coffee shop by an elderly white man talking to his companion about keeping ‘America white again.’ He was muttering about the high proportion of Asians who were staffing the coffee shop and serving customers.

Sadly, there exist such folks in the land of the free and the home of the brave, people who have crawled out of the woodwork, buoyed and encouraged by a president whose inflammatory rhetoric against minorities has been repeatedly recorded. To those people I have this message: ‘Making America great again’ is a noble thought but it will never come through the barrel of gun or expulsion of all non-whites.

This article provided by NewsEdge.