Let’s admit it: This is who we are

By Nestor Ramos

August 06, 2019 "Information Clearing House" -  “This is not who we are.”

We hear these words again and again in the hours after a mass shooting. A politician will speak them, or perhaps a police officer. They clatter out of the television or the computer screen like an incantation.

And so it was no surprise to find these words echoing through the aftermath of Saturday’s shooting in El Paso — 20 dead — and it was tempting to once again believe them. They are defiant words reserved for moments that demand strength and fury and indignation. They sound earnest and true.

Then, not quite 13 hours later, someone opened fire in Dayton, and the lie revealed itself yet again.

We are what we repeatedly do, and in this country what we repeatedly do is mow down civilians with .223-caliber semiautomatic rifles. The mass shootings pile on top of each other, occurring so close together this weekend that cable news covers them in split-screen, like playoff games.

And so, according to all the available evidence, this is exactly who we are.

It’s obvious if you confront the reality. Mass shootings are so routine now that it is possible, unless you have a personal connection to a particular massacre, to forget quite recent tragedies entirely.

The shooting at a garlic festival in Gilroy, Calif., a week ago would already be totally forgotten by the public at large were it not for the unusual setting. By next week it will be subsumed entirely.

How much do you remember about the shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building three months ago, where 12 people died? Before El Paso, it was the deadliest American mass shooting of 2019. It happened three months ago. I had to look it up.

This is who we are.

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