The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) grieves with the families, friends and communities of the people murdered in mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio last weekend. As an organization committed to changing the conditions that lead to domestic violence -- patriarchy, privilege, racism, sexism, and classism -- we again must say ENOUGH!
We reject the arguments that these shooters committed such heinous acts because they played violent video games, watched violent movies or experienced a mental health crisis or illness. While the motive of the Dayton shooter has yet to be established, we know the El Paso shooter was motivated by hatred, bigotry, racism, and xenophobia. White nationalists, empowered and emboldened by hateful and violent language promoted by our nations leaders, are actualizing this rhetoric by committing mass murder. We know the Dayton shooter murdered his sister as he began his rampage of violence and had a history of misogynistic actions. For these individuals, their next logical step is to resort to violent acts, which in and of themselves are an act of power.
As a nation, we must acknowledge our culpability in this violence. Many among us like to pretend that, as a nation, we have evolved and left racist and xenophobic beliefs behind, but the truth is, we have not! For instance, even as the media covers mass shootings, they ignore shootings that disproportionately impact the black community, such as the largely unreported shooting at the Brooklyn “Old Timers” Festival. Our failure to recognize or try to address the violence in urban communities enables the white supremacist message that some lives are more deserving of our grief and attention than others.
Add easy access to firearms to the hatred, toxicity, bigotry, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny, and you get El Paso. You get the Tree of Life Synagogue and Mother Emmanuel AME Church. You get the Pulse Nightclub. As a nation, we tend to identify these as isolated incidents – they are not. These mass shootings are part of the fabric of our nation, and the anger and hate underlying them also form the foundations of intimate partner violence.
To unravel this hate and violence, we have to directly address uncomfortable truths. We must call out white supremacy where we see it, and we must take active steps to combat hatred. Addressing these pillars of misogyny also addresses many of the root causes of domestic violence, including the need for power and control over others. Whenever we fail to address the hate that underlies such violence, we abandon victims of these crimes to danger and even death. It is only by recognizing and respecting our common humanity and our common commitment to safety for everyone that we can begin to end this violence.