Thursday, April 25, 2024
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Gunned down on the Fourth of July


THE Fourth of July fell on a Monday this year, making it possible for many Americans to enjoy a three-day weekend, a blessing for those workers who are not afforded the lengthy paid vacations enjoyed by their counterparts in other countries.

Despite patriotism now being considered ‘problematic’ in some quarters, especially among the young and those affluent leftward-leaning elites who increasingly control what happens or is thought in the United States, a majority of Americans remain patriotic and are uninhibited – or were until recently – about expressing their love of country. They indulge their patriotic inclinations most fully on Independence Day.

This Fourth of July I woke to the news that eight people had been killed  and 68 injured in gun violence in Chicago over the weekend. Sadly, such mayhem is par for the course in the city but receives scant attention beyond it. But before I had finished my first cup of tea of the morning, I learned of a mass shooting during an Independence Day parade in the city of Highland Park, Illinois, about 25 miles north of downtown Chicago. Six died and more than two dozen were injured at the scene, with another casualty dying the following day.

As is now routine in the aftermath of mass shootings of this kind, questions were immediately asked about the Highland Park perpetrator. What was his race or ethnicity, his political or religious allegiances? Was there an Islamist angle or was the shooter motivated by white supremacy or hate of one kind or another – although it should be pointed out that while all hatreds which lead to gun violence are equally loathsome, some hatreds are more equal than others, at least according to the corporate media and the Twittersphere. Had he (and it is always a ‘he’) attended a Trump rally in the last few years, had he been photographed wearing a MAGA hat, or had he expressed support for organisations such as the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers?

Generally speaking, the mainstream media runs with those mass shootings where the shooter is white and motivated by hatred of black or brown people but is less enthusiastic when the offender is not white or is not obviously motivated by an animus against people of colour or any other protected demographic. Although not a shooting, the killing of six white people and the injuring of 62 when a SUV driven by an African-American Black Lives Matter supporter who had praised Hitler and urged violence against white people sped into a parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, in 2021 was quickly relegated to the back pages because it did not fit the racial narrative. Similarly, the attack on the New York subway in April of this year when black nationalist Frank Robert James shot ten passengers was quickly put on the media back burner. Fortunately, no one died, although James had posted, ‘O black Jesus, please kill all the whiteys’ on social media.

In the leafy suburban city where my wife and I live, Independence Day was uneventful. Even the evening fireworks seemed a little subdued this year. But just a few miles away in the densely populated Mill District in downtown Minneapolis it was a different story. Video footage – cars being driven the wrong way down one-way streets, fireworks being aimed at passersby, buildings and other vehicles – evoked the appearance of a war zone, something to which Minneapolitans have become accustomed in recent years.

On the other side of the Mississippi at around the same time on Monday evening, in what bills itself as a ‘family-friendly’ amenity called Boom Island Park, at least seven people were injured, some critically, when, to use the passive construction used in reports, ‘gunfire broke out’ as midnight approached.

In fact, so many acts of civil disorder occurred in Minneapolis on Independence Day that Mayor Jacob Frey felt compelled to condemn what he dubbed the ‘callous disregard for residents’ safety’, urging family members and friends of those taking part in the mayhem to hold them accountable for their behaviour. ‘The kind of violence, the recklessness and in some cases, idiotic behaviour that we saw shouldn’t be tolerated’, Frey told a press conference the following day. ‘And let me be clear,’ he added, ‘it won’t be tolerated.’

Crime is out of control in Minneapolis at a time when its police department is short of 300 officers and the morale of those who risk life, career, and reputation on a daily basis in order that law-abiding men and women can walk the streets safely and have a reasonable expectation of leaving their homes in the morning and returning to find their loved ones and property safe and sound in the evening, is plummeting by the day.

We will have to wait and see whether or not Frey, a decent man but whose craven indecision helped facilitate the riots and looting in his city which followed the death of George Floyd, is able to deliver on his pledge not to tolerate the lawlessness that increasingly plagues this graceful city of parks and lakes on the banks of the Mississippi.

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Bernard Carpenter
Bernard Carpenter
Bernard Carpenter is a semi-retired history teacher.

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