Confronting the long-term problems

Published 10:16 pm Friday, August 9, 2019

By Kenya Smith

My heart goes out to the victims of the El Paso and Dayton shootings. Like the previous tragedies, people are divided on how to prevent future mass shootings. Some say the mass shootings happened because God was taken out of public schools and gay marriage was made legal. Others blame violent video games for the tragedies. Let’s examine these factors.

Violent video games are not responsible for these shootings. Do you think the Las Vegas shooter, the Orlando shooter, the Charleston shooter, or any shooter spent their time playing Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty? If violent video games were the cause, Japan, which is the video game capital of the world, would have a much higher crime rate.

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Contrary to popular belief, God was never taken out of public schools. Students can freely pray in public schools, and the courts have ruled that the government is forbidden to tell students how to conduct their prayer life in schools. The only kind of prayer that is prohibited is prayer that is forced. Even when state-sanctioned prayer was still in schools, there were people who prayed to God but refused to trust God when confronted with the evil of racism. Good examples of this are the notorious Ku Klux Klan and the eight white clergymen from Alabama who called the civil rights demonstrations “unwise” and “untimely.”

These two gunmen weren’t even members of the LGBTQ community, so why are some leaders blaming the LGBTQ community for these shootings? In general, why are some of us blaming the shootings on factors that didn’t motivate the two gunmen?

It because some of our leaders, both political and religious, are too reluctant to call out domestic terrorism and white supremacy because of guilt by association. They know that some of their colleagues have perpetuated the hateful and prejudiced rhetoric that has led to these shootings. Even a commentator on a major news network falsely claimed that white supremacy is a hoax.

The truth is, all of us know that white supremacy and domestic terrorism have been poisoning this country for centuries, even under the guise of religious freedom. All of us know that the gunman responsible for the El Paso shooting hated immigrants and the Latino community, and he chose El Paso because of its large Latino population and its rich Latino heritage. All of us know that the El Paso gunman and the Dayton gunman were not Muslims, nor they were immigrants, nor they were non-white.

So, where do we go from here as a nation? We must examine ourselves and ask ourselves if we hold any prejudice towards a group of people. We must educate ourselves about prejudice and its historical impact on society. We must validate the experiences and feelings that different people have and be bold to call out any prejudiced jokes, statements or deeds. Most importantly, we must simply treat people the way we want to be treated.

Kenya Smith is a Suffolk native. Email her at