by Bob Barr
Democrats are sniffing glue and reading the New York Times again. How else can one explain their reduction of the deeply complex and innately subhuman act of slaughtering eight individuals to a run-of-the-mill “hate” crime, on par with screaming racial slurs at a passerby on the sidewalk? It is an explanation so sophomoric that it borders on irresponsibly stupid.
No act of mass murder is an ordinary crime, whether fueled by anger, passion or psychosis. Intentionally murdering innocent strangers requires a detachment from basic humanity that is not an attribute common to the vast majority of criminals. Comprehending how an individual arrives psychologically at such a dark depth is a key to preventing similar tragedies in the future.
Progress in understanding such horrific criminal behavior, however, grinds to a halt when a key stakeholder refuses to scratch even a micron below the surface of the overt acts. Worse still, in the case of last week’s murders at massage parlors in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia, Democrats have displayed actual hostility toward those who delve beneath the surface, when facts and analysis begin to contradict their simplistic narrative. As cultural commentator Jon Stokes recently noted on Twitter, it “isn’t just the incuriosity, but the . . . anti-curiosity” that strikes him as particularly troublesome with the Democrats’ reaction to the Atlanta shootings. “You’re just supposed to say ‘amen’” and move on.
Consider Georgia’s newly elected, far-Left Sen. Raphael Warnock, who clapped back at the FBI last weekend when the agency suggested the Atlanta shooting did not appear to be racially motivated. Warnock’s un-inquisitive explanation for the murders was simply, “we all know hate when we see it.”
Which narrative is more likely to be played endlessly in the mainstream media echo chamber, thus filtering down to a population as lazy as the media when it comes to fact-finding? The one daring to suggest that America suffers from a deep and multi-faceted cultural sickness that generates far too many mass murderers, or the one that immediately goes off on the usual tangents about COVID, former President Donald Trump, and, of course, racism?
In this minimalist world view, police violence occurs because black lives don’t matter; mass shootings happen because of the Second Amendment; and bad schools are the result of insufficient funding. A high school debate club would have its way with congressional Democrats if this were the extent to which they are willing to go in penetrating America’s most troubling social and economic problems.
It does not stop with the quality of debate, either. The so-called “solutions” emerging from this superficial perspective are, and will remain, equally vacuous and counterproductive.
Consider how “defund the police” became a rallying cry of “woke” progressives last year following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Catchy as the slogan may have been with rioters, reframing justice reform behind such an insipid, irrational objective undermined years of coalition building between liberal and conservative stakeholders working for criminal justice reform; a hard-fought process that resulted in Trump signing the historic First Step Act in 2018.
Enacting similar bipartisan legislation today would be impossible for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that Democrat leaders assiduously avoid ruffling feathers of the progressive scolds within their ranks whose explanation for virtually every problem we face is “systemic racism.” We will be no closer to finding an answer to mass shootings if Democrats continue their identity politics chest-thumping in response to the Atlanta spa murders.
It is in a sense, understandable for people to seek neat, tidy and superficially logical explanations to illogical and inhuman behavior. Thus, “the shooter hated Asians” as answer to the question of how or why a young man would go on a killing rampage at an Asian spa because of alleged sex and pornography addiction, soothes the craving for simplicity. It is – or certainly should be — the responsibility of those in positions of power and knowledge to look beyond such assumptions, not repeat them mindlessly.
It matters little whether Democrat leaders deep down know this but choose to act contrarily or have dumbed themselves down to such a degree they no longer are able to separate fact from their own spin. Either explanation is equally unproductive and indeed, dangerous.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.