In the wake of Saturday’s horrific shooting at a Lunar New Year celebration in the heavily Asian neighborhood of Monterey Park, California, Democratic lawmakers sprang into action, speculating that the violence may have been racially motivated. Hours later it emerged that the shooter was himself also Asian.
The frequency of mass killings in this country is harrowing. But Cockburn finds such tragedies are made all the more gruesome when politicians so often jump ahead of the facts, ascribing motivations or reasons to the violence that are politically beneficial to them or fit their ideological framework. Representative Adam Schiff, for example, pegged “bigotry towards AAPI individuals as a possible motive.”
Newly minted Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries tweeted, “We must crush the rise of hatred and intolerance whenever and wherever it is found.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer similarly wrote, “We must stand up to bigotry and hate wherever they rear their ugly heads, and we must keep working to stop gun violence”.
The immediate assumption from these leaders after a shooting is that the perpetrator had racist intent. Sometimes this turns out to be true, and sometimes it does not, but irresponsible prejudgments do nothing other than stoke division and fear. Rather than waiting for the facts, these Democrats leap at the chance to harness the strong emotions that are evoked by mass murder and channel them towards reinforcing their mantra that America is a bigoted nation. What’s to be gained from this rush to an incorrect judgment? It’s foul.
The same thing happened after a self-described sex addict shot up a Georgia massage parlor in 2021, killing eight people, six of whom were Asian women. Politicians and members of the media initially branded the murders an act of anti-Asian violence. But not every crime is a hate crime. And plenty of tragedies have nothing to do with race.
And those who make false statements or insinuations very rarely apologize for their mistakes. It is one thing to post a misleading tweet; it is another to resist correcting the record when the truth comes out. Cockburn wonders what this says about the party that claims to stand against misinformation.
In the interest of fairness, Cockburn should point out that the Democrats don’t have a monopoly on this kind of conduct. When the FBI raided Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion, the right immediately cried foul. Assertions of persecution and excessively harsh tactics quickly spread — all before the facts were known. When it turned out that Trump had misled and obstructed federal authorities, there were crickets from his defenders.
Maybe this is all a function of how the attention economy operates these days — through soundbites and Twitter, which place a premium on short, attention-grabbing material. Members of the media and political comms staffers have the memory span of a goldfish when someone they agree with says or speculates something stupid. Cockburn doesn’t forget though — and nor do many readers. No wonder trust in the media and in Washington is in the gutter.