Yep, son; we have met the enemy and he is us.”
When Walt Kelly put those words in the mouth of his comic strip character Pogo on April 22, 1970, he was referring to Americans littering.
Those words now need to be applied to mass shootings.
Another shooting took place over the weekend, in nearby El Paso, Texas. As of this writing, 20 were dead and more than two-dozen injured in the shooting by a lone gunman at the Cielo Vista Mall.
The suspect, identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, carried out his deadly rampage six days after Santino William Legan, 19, shot and killed three people at the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, Calif.
These two incidents have a great deal in common — both are acts of terror carried out by white males who espoused racist or xenophobic ideology before using guns to kill as many people as they could.
Yes, we called the incidents acts of terror because that’s what they are. And it’s time we as a nation acknowledge that we have a group of terrorists in our midst.
The shooting in El Paso was the 250th mass shooting in the United States this year, and white males who share an ideology of hatred of immigrants, non-Christians and women commit the overwhelming majority of mass shootings.
We have domestic terrorists, who exhibit the same blind loyalty to their hatreds as the jihadists who self-sacrifice for their perverted version of Islam and the kamikaze pilots of World War II who believed the emperor who said their sacrifice would be noble if they killed multiple Americans.
These white males shooting multiple innocent victims are only heroes to people with a perverted sense of right and wrong, people who believe there is no value to human life if a Mexican or a Jew or a homosexual holds that life.
Racist rhetoric is becoming more and more commonplace today; racists are now comfortable taking the sheets off their heads and loudly proclaiming their bigotry for the entire world to see.
As a nation, we’ve become tone deaf to these white nationalists, thinking it was a just a few fringe players — just as there have been over the last 30 or 40 years. But we were wrong — it’s not just a few who think Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot had the right idea; it’s a growing number.
We have to take steps to keep weapons out of the hands of these men who see themselves as revolutionary war heroes, ready to “take back” the country from the brown, black, yellow and red people, women and gays. That includes: mandatory thorough background checks for firearms purchases; gun ownership prohibition for anyone with mental health diagnoses, domestic violence convictions and records of hate crime arrests; and closing the seller-to-seller and gun show loopholes.
But the first step we have to take is to call these white nationalist killers exactly what they are — domestic terrorists.
Editor’s note: This was written Saturday afternoon, before the news broke of a second mass shooting that same day in Dayton, Ohio, in which another white terrorist shot nine people dead and injured another 27.
Enough is enough.