Attacks in the US: what are the causes?

The debate about gun violence in the US has reignited after shootings in two US cities in which 30 people were killed. While the motives of the attacker in Dayton Ohio are still unclear, the shooter in El Paso was presumably a white racist. Commentators discuss what prompted the killings.

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Expressen (SE) /

Far right abusing fears of climate change

In a manifesto published before the attack in El Paso the presumed perpetrator wrote that 'overpopulation' posed a threat to the climate. This is another attack after the one in Christchurch committed in the name of eco-fascism, Expressen notes:

“One of the movement's ideological leaders is Finnish philosopher Pentti Linkola. He writes that democracy doesn't work and that dictatorship is the only way to prevent a climate catastrophe. He calls for mass executions to put an end to overpopulation. ... Climate activists must be careful: eco-fascists want to infiltrate the environmental movement. The right-wing extremists have realised that in addition to fears of economic decline they can also exploit fears of climate change. In this way racism can be 'laundered' and presented as green environmental activism. Nevertheless it's as dangerous as ever.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Angry white men are the problem

Most of those who commit mass killings in the US are driven by a form of toxic masculinity, The Daily Telegraph laments:

“What motivates both groups, white supremacists and misogynists alike, is a pernicious belief that they matter more than the rest of us. It is a form of toxic masculinity - the most toxic form, in fact - which has a long history in America, stretching back to the grim days of slavery. ... One way of tackling America's unique gun problem would be to make it harder to acquire lethal weapons. But even if that were to happen - and many attempts have foundered over the years - it wouldn't solve the underlying issue. The US has a serious problem with angry white men, and the warning signs are being missed time and time again.”

Avvenire (IT) /

The Internet as a catalyst for hate

The negative impact of hate speech on digital communication channels should not be underestimated, warns sociologist Maurizio Ambrosini in Avvenire:

“Take for instance the conspiracy theories according to which the white population is to be replaced by African, Middle Eastern or Asian ethnic groups. ... On the one hand we have normal, generally harmless citizens who turn into fanatic disseminators of the worst acts of evil the human mind can conceive as soon as they sit down at their computers. The producers of fake news supply them with the pseudo arguments and emotional ammunition for political or even economic reasons. ... And at the end of the chain you have the few but lethal 'warriors of hate': those who not only take the alleged threat seriously but resort to the use of weapons to stop it.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Trump is encouraging terror in his country

The president is largely responsible for the racist violence in the US, writes Le Temp's US correspondent Valérie de Graffenried:

“Donald Trump has no qualms about stirring up racial hatred and deepening social rifts to satisfy his conservative electorate. He's proved it once again in recent days. ... Trump is acting like a dangerous pyromaniac. The white supremacists feel strengthened and legitimised by his words. That's where things stand in today's America. A country where even people suffering from mental illness can own a gun. While the politicians bear much blame due to their lacklustre attempts to limit gun ownership, the president's violent rhetoric is the true culprit. Like a poison, it nurtures domestic terror.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Don't point your finger at the president

The question of who's to blame for the violence deserves a more subtle approach, La Repubblica's US correspondent Federico Rampini writes:

“No doubt no leadership can bring the divided and unsettled American society together. And yet we must be careful about establishing a relationship between ideological speech and shootings. Massacres also took place under Barack Obama, who was far from instigating racism. In the eight years of his presidency shootings targeting blacks, Jews and homosexuals took place. Other massacres bore the mark of the jihad. But it would have been wrong to establish a direct connection between these attacks and Obama's Middle East policy.”

Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

It takes time to heal society's wounds

Fighting gun crime is a long-term project, Ilta-Sanomat stresses:

“Preventing mass shootings is difficult. There are so many guns out there that some are bound to fall into the hands of radicals. ... What's needed is legislation that makes it more difficult to acquire guns, with stricter background checks for buyers. And Internet companies must be forced to take action against hate speech. We need a change of mentality to stop the glorification of weapons and to encourage people to report anyone they believe is preparing acts of violence. There is no single solution, so the path to a healthy society will be a long one.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Dispute over gun ownership purely ideological

The hardened fronts aren't doing anything to limit gun ownership in the US, Lidové noviny points out:

“No one is sure how gun control laws affect crime statistics, or what optimal restrictions would look like. There are surprisingly few studies in the US that deal with the subject. And unlike with the drug problem, for example, there's also a lack of raw data. The whole issue is politicised and no one wants to finance studies on it. Without rational insights all that's left is an ideological debate. And such a debate stands little chance of bringing about any form of compromise.”