Las Vegas & Puerto Rico: What we know
The horrific massacre that took place in Las Vegas during a country music festival late at night on Oct. 1 has taken the lives of a recorded 59 people and injured 527 as of Oct. 2. It is the deadliest massacre, in terms of numbers, that has occurred on U.S. soil in recent history.
It will take days, weeks and — who knows — maybe even months for a full investigation to answer certain questions leading to the motive of the alleged shooter, Stephen Paddock. One obvious question is how was he able to bring 10 suitcases packed with 18 to 20 automatic rifles, many of them fully loaded, to his 32nd-floor hotel room overlooking the festival, without arousing any kind of suspicion.
Another obvious question is: Why wasn’t this heinous act deemed domestic terrorism as soon as Paddock, who is white, was identified? Usually the government and the corporate press are quick to characterize Muslims as “terrorists,” but not in this case. Police only stated that Paddock was a “lone wolf” attacker.
This should come as no surprise, since the white supremacist attacks in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, resulting in the death of anti-fascist activist Heather Heyer, were not characterized, by either President Donald Trump or the press, as domestic terrorism.
There are some political facts related to Las Vegas that we do know. For instance, to cite a popular baseball quote, “Mass shootings are as American as apple pie.” A chart, compiled by the British Guardian, indicates there have been 1,516 mass shootings in the U.S. over the past 1,735 days — the highest rate in any developed country recorded since 2012. A mass shooting is defined by the Gun Violence Archive as four or more people shot in one incident, whether killed or injured.
We also know that racism plays a prominent role in determining whose lives receive more priority than others. The Black Lives Matter movement reflects the fact that when it comes to racial profiling by the police or vigilantes, Black and Brown lives are dehumanized on a daily basis.
When two hurricanes hit Puerto Rico within a two-week period, virtually devastating the entire island and leaving residents with little to no drinking water, electricity, food or sanitary supplies, Trump accused the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, of “poor leadership.” This was after she called out his administration for not responding immediately to the crisis for 3.4 million U.S. citizens. An estimated 60 lives have been lost to date in Puerto Rico and probably many, many more given the lack of medicine and other kinds of deprivation.
Ten days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Trump visited the island for one day, on Oct. 3. After claiming he would visit the hurricane-wrecked Virgin Islands, a U.S. territory with a mostly Black population, he decided not to visit it at all.
In contrast, Trump is scheduled to visit Las Vegas, where the massacre victims were mostly white, on Oct. 4, just three days after the carnage. This past weekend, Trump was at a golf tournament in Jersey City, N.J., where he dedicated the trophy to the people in Puerto Rico. WTF!!
Trump’s response shows how the Puerto Rican people, due to national oppression, are treated as less than human. An Oct. 3 Washington Post article (“Trump says Puerto Rico officials should be ‘proud’ more haven’t died like in Katrina”) reports that during his visit to Puerto Rico, he condescendingly told officials, “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, you’ve thrown our budget out of whack.”
Many say that guns are a societal problem when in reality, capitalism — a system that depends on class violence and especially white supremacy to survive — is the REAL problem that must be eradicated.