I don’t recall just where the quote for the above headline comes from, but I thought it only fitting. Apologies in advance to all my gun-owning friends but after what’s taken place in recent days, I have to throw in my own two cents, no matter who I offend.

Two young white men with hatred in their hearts set out to send a message to the nation because one, according to his online manifesto, detested the “Hispanic invasion” and the other sought to get even in his community where he felt wronged.  My feminist friends will please excuse my use of the term “he” in the headline: Angry white men are pulling the triggers in mass shootings, not women. In a crowd, either one of those two shooters would blend right in, just like me.

The death toll at this writing in both El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio is 32 and growing. Those wounded, maimed and forever traumatized across the country have no number.

I can respect those who choose to own firearms for self protection and hunting. I do not own a gun and never will for the simple reason that, being a stubborn Sicilian, in a moment of frustration my dear and patient – for the most part-  wife would likely use it on me. Still, when all is said and done, automatic weapons are designed to inflict the most amount of carnage and damage in the least amount of time.

Ban the God damned things now. Not later. No one goes hunting with a modified AK-47 or M-16 to take down a deer, bear or rabbit. Plain and simple. No fake news here. The Zombie Apocalypse is not going to happen and the premise for the movie “Red Dawn” is just fiction. No need to be armed to the teeth, Rambo. Get over it.

One old and dear friend, a security expert in the field for nearly four decades, insists the recent shootings are not the end but a new beginning. Since both shooters were disarmed or killed quickly, the newest goal for white supremacists and nut jobs alike, he argues, is to inflict mass carnage in less time by embracing explosive vests in favor of automatic weapons. God help us all if he’s right.

The fact that the El Paso shooter’s manifesto pointing to rage over a “Hispanic Invasion” echoes President Trump’s ongoing diatribe on an “Immigrant Invasion” speaks for itself.

Thank you, Mr. President, for finally denouncing white supremacy in a speech written by someone other than you, but it comes a bit late when your rhetoric for years has fueled the flames of hatred and given ammunition to those who have a hair-trigger when it comes to acting out on their simmering rage.

One more thing, Mr. President, it was Dayton, not Toledo where that second shooting took place. El Paso and Dayton took place in the span of 13 hours. I do now believe that your xenophobic message won’t play in Toledo any longer.

Another old and dear friend is a proud gun owner and supporter of Mr. Trump. He’ll bust me at the drop of a hat for being an FDR Democrat and insists that I’m a non-repentant socialist for being a journalist and former reporter for – his words – “That Communist, left-wing, fake-news rag, The New York Times.”

At a July 4th fireworks event last month, he did his best to get my Sicilian goat by decrying “shameless fake news” and endorsing Trump’s latest finger pointing at The Times.

I reminded him that when whites and blacks clashed in the deep south and a young man with Neo-Nazi leanings drove his car through a group of protesters, our fearless leader in Washington remarked that there were good and bad people on both sides.

Good Nazis? Really? My point to him was slow to process.

“Let me put it to you another way,” I said to my dear friend. “Your father, God rest his soul, wasn’t he part of the second wave on D-Day that came ashore at Normandy? Didn’t you once tell me that of his unit, only he and less than a dozen others that day survived the withering machine-gun fire and lived to talk about it? And your father just barely after being wounded and taking shrapnel in his hip?”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“Do you think your father would agree that there are good Nazis and bad?”

He had no retort, other than a look of deep frustration.

I once interviewed a Tuskegee Airman (An all black WWII Army Air Force unit whose members served in segregated squadrons and distinguished themselves in combat over Fortress Europe) who survived the war years with sixty-odd harrowing combat missions to his credit as a P-51 Mustang pilot, only to spend the rest of his life denouncing segregation and battling racism.

There’s a remark he made that will stay with me always. When it came to discrimination in the service, “One thing we all learned during those years, both white and black: In combat and looking out for each other, we all bled the same color.”

During a CNN round-table discussion Sunday among noted journalists on use of the term “white terrorism,” one writer made a poignant and telling remark. She said she had covered many of the mass shootings over the last year and a half and “God forgive me for saying so, I can remember the shootings, the devastating tolls and where they took place but I can’t remember all the names of the shooters. They just seem to be indistinguishable from each other.”

I’m not sure I can ever again walk into a Walmart or a K-Mart without looking over my shoulder in search of anyone who looks angry or appears intent on bedlam. Or any other public place, for that matter. Because in my mind, I’ll be looking for angry white men who look just like me.

One thought on “I’ve Seen the Enemy and He Looks Just Like Me

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