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This emerging trend doesn’t necessarily mean that shooters are increasingly targeting worshippers, but that this epidemic of mass shootings is spreading so furiously that literally, no corners of our communities are safe anymore. Where we gather, we are targets. Even in sanctuaries, the places where we are supposed to be able leave our burdens and suspicions at the door, we are not safe.
While we as a nation are on our knees, we should be deeply concerned by a President who will not bow, who spouts talking points on the road in Asia that will likely only reinforce the culture of violence that has made mass shootings a regular part of our life in America.
Last week, when an Uzbek man drove a truck into a crowd of people in Trump’s hometown, the President immediately called for restrictions on immigrants and execution of the perpetrator. A non-white, non-Christian perpetrator of violence quickly became a justification for the policy agenda of white supremacy: anti-immigrant legislation and violent retaliation.
But the lone gunman in Sutherland Springs this week, who was white and born in the U.S., evoked a different response from the President: a focus on mental health, not guns. The contradiction of this pivot to defend gun rights is inescapable. Not only did he make it easier for people with mental health issues to get guns; this President has also spent nine months trying to undermine the Affordable Care Act, which aimed to guarantee access to mental health services to all Americans.
In Texas, the state's refusal to expand Medicaid under the ACA threatens its safety net. Meanwhile, population continues to outpace need. New GOP plans could leave as many as 500,000 Texans uninsured by 2020. In Texas, as elsewhere, many of those people are white.
This contradiction exposes the moral malady that threatens the heart and soul of our democracy: By imagining the non-white, non-American to be our enemy, we have constructed a political culture and a war economy that threatens us all.