Las Vegas Shooting: «Lone wolves» and Media bias are More Dangerous than Immigrants and Muslims

One sunny morning in late March 2016, George Washington University, my alma mater where I did my master’s from Fall 2015 to Spring 2017, hosted an event with Matthew Barzun, then U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Mr. Barzun talked about U.S. foreign policy, explained current and future trends in diplomacy, and shared findings of a quite interesting survey conducted by the Embassy among high school students in the UK on their perceptions of the United States.

Егемен Қазақстан
11.10.2017 2115

The survey asked the British youth to write or draw both something that frustrated and something that inspired them about the U.S. Most of the respondents wrote down the word “gun”. The survey finding shared by Amb. Barzun raised a sarcastic laugh in the room.  

Undoubtedly, the horrific shooting in Las Vegas, which cost the lives of 59 innocent people and hundreds of wounded, has increased the number of individuals who are frustrated about gun violence in the United States as were Briton teenagers. The media seemed to be frustrated too. And they labeled the appalling act as “the worst in American history.”   

Since that “Bloody Sunday” police has been trying to find out what motivated Stephen Paddock to shower the crowd of concertgoers with bullets. Millions of Americans have been extending their condolences to those families who lost their loved ones in the shooting. Politicians, pundits, media outlets, civil activists, and citizens have been actively discussing how to ensure the nation’s safety from gun violence.

And it is fair when foreigners – terrified after each news of shooting in the most powerful country on the planet – ask «Why doesn't the U.S. Congress pass a single bill ensuring that Americans with a mental disorder and without a background check can't get access to guns?». Nevertheless, it's a tough question to answer in today's politically polarized U.S. since the problem of gun control deals with a variety of issues from the Second Amendment to media bias, from gun lobby to successful careers in politics. 

There is another fair question that not only foreigners and media critics, but also every American should ask: Why the media is always hesitant to describe terror attacks committed by white men as terrorism?

This phenomenon–also known as media bias–is not new in the American media landscape. We have witnessed many times that in the eyes of media outlets how a black or Muslim shooter immediately becomes a terrorist, whereas a white shooter turns into a «lone wolf» with the mental disorder. Unfortunately, one more time we saw how a white man was transformed from a normal person to the ''lone wolf.” 

Though we don’t know whether Paddock intended to influence the government yet, his action could be more likely identified as «domestic terrorism» in accordance with the U.S. law rather than as his fellow lone wolves' act. 

Besides media bias, it’s worth paying attention to President Trump's reaction. This time he took to Twitter to only express his condolences to the affected families. In addition, while addressing the nation on the shooting from the White House, he stuck with an accurately worded statement avoiding words with the root “terror.” There can be no doubt that this time President Trump reacted totally different on the mass attack than presidential candidate Trump of 2016. 

Most of us remember how last year Mr. Trump attempted to justify his tough-on-Muslims stance through his tweet referring to the 2016 Orlando shooting. Even his tone of responding to terrorist attacks in Europe and Canada has remained almost the same until recent days. Until the “act of pure evil” in Las Vegas.

Here is the question: Does President Trump’s “politically correct” statement on the shooting mean that he has matured politically since the 2016 Orlando shooting? Or does he still believe that most of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. are committed by “brown immigrant Muslim terrorists?”

The Las Vegas shooting one more time has shown that terrorism has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, and religion. And we don’t know how long it might take for the media and President Trump to acknowledge that fact. But one thing is clear: right now “lone wolves” and media bias put more threats to the United States than immigrants and Muslims.

If I’m surveyed as British high school students on America in the near future and asked what comes to my mind when I hear the word U.S., I already know the answer. And it won’t be the “gun.”   

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