Social isolation and political divisions are turning our youth into killers

Armstrong Williams | 8/8/2019, 2:54 p.m.

By now it should be obvious to most people that mass killings do not take place in a vacuum. They are driven by the same moral struggles we often call the human condition. So, while the senseless terrorist bloody massacres on our soil are devastating, crippling, deeply sad and troubling, they are also emotionally understandable. An undeniable belief in God helps provide a foundation to arbitrate our decisions. Without this foundation, we are condemned to live essentially formless lives. We become so heartless and without conscience that we can destroy human life without a thought or care.

Unfortunately, as we celebrate our progress in technology and science, it has wrought a devastating price tag. Parents and communities are so disconnected from their children, that often times they are complete strangers. When these young and deadly assassins seemingly mass murder for no reason, family and friends are more shocked than the larger society.

The challenge we are facing is not whether greater restrictions should be placed on fire-arms. The challenge we are facing is our ability to connect with each other on a human level, devoid of the coverings of race, ideology and sexual orientation. It really comes down to values. The values we instill in our children are the values they will exhibit in the world. And if we fail to instill any values, the world will do it for us, and often to our own detriment and demise. No matter what the reason, the season or the need, morality still matters.

Even in this glowering age, only morality animates our lives with meaning. Although the feeling of disconnection among youth has long been a motivating factor for mass shooters—going back to the Columbine High School massacre and others—there is also something deeper at work here. At least in the El Paso murders, the killer wrote quite a detailed manifesto which provided the broad outlines of an ideological battle he was struggling to reconcile.

Lines from the 21-year-old killer’s 2,300 word screed posted on the anonymous 8-chan website, indicate that the shooter seemed to truly believe that his actions were a just response to “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” He rationalized his senseless act with the excuse, “I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement.” The reason why the shooter chose to use the word “invasion” to refer to the bedraggled refugees seeking to cross the U.S. border should come as no surprise to anyone. President Trump and members of his administration and associated media have famously repeated the “invasion” theme at public engagements. Trump has let the rhetoric grow even more caustic, failing to curb a crowd that actually called for the killing of immigrants at a recent Florida rally. This sends a message to would-be bad-guys that their malevolence will be tolerated, if not encouraged, in the name of curbing illegal immigration.

In the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016, many wondered how an American-born person who had no substantial ties to any organized Islamic terror group could have been “radicalized” enough to carry out such a despicable terrorist attack on U.S. soil. And the answer was clear. Omar Mateen was not radicalized by his parents, siblings or anyone in his immediate group of associates. His mind was poisoned by the airwaves—messages he received online and in social media. This seems clearly to be the case with the young man who committed the El Paso massacre. As in Mateen’s case, the El Paso shooter’s relatives were just as clueless about what he was planning as any member of the public.