COLUMN: 'Leave our health care system alone'

The horrific mass shootings that have occurred over the past several days are just that: horrifying.

However, the attempt to paint an entire group of people with the broad brush of blanket blame does nothing to seriously address or resolve the problem. Being beyond disingenuous, it's dangerous.

Sadly, mass shootings are nothing new and did not start when Trump became president. Mass shootings date back decades. Preventing such incidents is paramount to everybody. Unfortunately, once again we are seeing, though, too many willing to make political statements with accompanying incendiary rhetoric designed to not offer solutions but ratchet up anxiety. Often, these are accompanied by hardly hidden hatred for entire groups of people.

It has to stop.

In the wake of the shootings, particularly in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, we have been barraged by political opportunists completely comfortable in fomenting unhinged venom toward not just President Trump, but anybody who has supported Trump.

Trump and his statements on illegal immigration were immediately blamed for the murderous rampage in El Paso because the shooter appears to have targeted Hispanics. But according to former FBI agent Steve Hooper, the shooter, in his manifesto, actually said it was the Democratic presidential debate that was the trigger.

"When the most recent debate when they all raised their hand and said, 'Free health care and free access to all of them [illegal immigrants],'" Hooper told Phoenix radio station KFYI host Mike Broomhead. "That's what pushed him over the edge. He felt he was justified. He felt he ran out of alternatives."

So, do we now start blaming Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Beto O'Rourke and the Democratic field for the murders? Of course not. Not if we are being intellectually honest.

As Hooper further noted, if a gun hadn't been available, the shooter likely would have found some other means to inflict such carnage. Killers of many different stripes have employed the use of trucks, bombs and other means to carry out their plans.

Meanwhile, the Dayton shooter, according to the Dayton Daily News, was hardly a Trump supporting right-winger. According to the newspaper, he was seen in May carrying a gun and protesting the Ku Klux Klan at a rally in downtown Dayton. Further, a friend told the newspaper the shooter "definitely was not a right-leaning person" and that "his political views definitely leaned to the left."

A week earlier, another shooter killed three people and injured 13 others at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California. According to reports, the FBI said the shooter kept a "target list." His "list" included churches, courthouses and included targets of both political parties.

But that hasn't stopped the outcry that this is Trump's fault. All of it. The fact is, you cannot pin this to a certain ideology, a certain group of people or even weaponry.

One constant, though, is mental illness. We continue to fall far short as a society of addressing mental illness, but as long as politicians continue to use these deadly shootings as a means to gain political traction, it will continue to be an issue.

What's especially troubling is seeing what Rep. Joaquin Castro, D.-Texas, recently posted on Twitter.

Castro, the brother of presidential candidate Julian Castro, actually posted names, occupations and employers of San Antonio-area Trump supporters on Twitter.

“Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump," Castro tweeted. “Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”

The list of names included homemakers and retirees, whose only transgression was to support a mainstream political candidate for president. There was no legitimate reason to post that list, especially in today's highly polarized climate, other than to intimidate and "out" political opposition. Clearly, it poses a threat to those people to have their personal information divulged. To name opponents and put their safety at risk for the simple sin of having a different political opinion reeks of the worst kind of fascism.

Supporters of Trump are frequently, and incorrectly, tagged with using violent or hateful language. Yet, it's the left that consistently threatens and seeks to intimidate.

Protesters gathered outside the home of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky., this week because, allegedly, they were upset about the recent shootings and demanding McConnell push through stringent gun control legislation.

Among the violent language of the protesters? One women yelled, "Just stab the mother****** in the heart." Another yells, "Mitch. F*** you, f*** your wife, f*** everything you stand for."

From a crowd that claims to want to end violence, no less.

Since the left is obsessed with Trump's words — both real and imagined — maybe they should heed these words he spoke on Sunday:

"Hate has no place in our country."

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Ruthenberg is a multiple award-winning columnist and writer for the Enid News & Eagle. Contact him at daver@enidnews.com.

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