I have been thinking about the collective trauma these mass shootings are having on Americans. On NBC Nightly News they showed 2 instances of people panicking over loud noises they took for gun shots in Times Square last night people ran panicking away from the sound of a motorcycle backfiring in another location people ran away in a fright because of a sign falling and at USA Today offices the building was evacuated after a seemingly false report of a man with a gun.
The closest I have come to this sort of fear was back on December 30th, 1994. I was working in my office at work when the report of a shooting at a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Boston. This was very early in the internet age and mobile phones were not in wide use so I didn’t know the details. All I knew is that my partner, who worked for Planned Parenthood, had gone into a meeting in Boston. I remember the fear in the pit of my stomach and desperately wanted to know that he was okay. I paged him (back then we had pagers and not phones). I entered my number and 911 and hoped he would call. Thankfully he did and I was so relieved. There was a death at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Brookline, Massachusetts a city that borders Boston. There was also another shooting at another clinic nearby. I was really shook up and remember the collective sense of loss a few days later at a memorial service at the Arlington Street Church in Boston.
Now I am imagining this fear being multiplied by people who knew a person or persons among thousand shopping in that El Paso Walmart. I can imagine the fear as people learned that a shooter had killed people at a Walmart where their family members or friends had gone shopping. That effected people those whose friends and family were spared and devastated those who lost someone they love. This took place in Ciudad Juarez as well as El Paso as many from the border city in Mexico had gone to shop. Last I heard, there were 7 Mexican citizens amongst the 22 lives lost.
Of course this did not take place in a vacuum. President Trump had been using Hispanics in general and immigrants in particular as part of his invasion at the border rhetoric. His speeches and tweets have included words that spoke directly to the White Supremacists in the audience or reading his tweets. These dog whistles were embraced by right-wing, racist fanatics who saw Trump as someone who felt the way he did. They were very open in their admiration for the President and could/can see through the facade of “Good Trump” reading off a TelePrompTer vs the real Trump in tweets and at rallies.
I really hope this is a turning point but I am skeptical; still the number of people who lost friends or family to mass shootings is growing. Soon a majority of Americans will rise up and say #EnoughIsEnough. Maybe then things will really change. I hope that occurs before November of 2020. We can’t take 4 more years of this great white hope!