Dear Republicans, say it with me: White terr-or-ism. White supremacy. Domestic terrorism. Guns. Hate. Insecurity. Ignorance. Money.
Any of these is more appropriate than blaming video games. Top Republicans are desperate, and they’re pulling out all of the tired clichés to defend the indefensible.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appeared on Fox News on Sunday, after 29 people were killed and more than 50 injured in two mass shootings in less than 13 hours, to blame video games for the violence.
This is despite the fact that in one of the attacks, at a Walmart in El Paso, the shooter is believed to have circulated a so-called manifesto complaining about the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The social media accounts of that shooter, a 21-year-old white male who was wielding an AK-47-style weapon and who drove over nine hours to attack a border community, show that he had retweeted several of Donald Trump’s rabid tweets.
Goaded by a Fox News anchor into talking about the perils of social media and video games, McCarthy offered a rambling word-salad-of-a-response that failed to mention white supremacy, racism, or even Donald Trump. He did, briefly, mention guns, so we give him credit at least for that.
“You want to see from these individuals what they wrote and others, but I mean, this may be a place that we could find this ahead of time. There may be a place of what’s being written can be changed, can be an indication that an individual needs help and others that we can stop,” he said.
“But the idea of these video games that dehumanize individuals, to have a game of shooting individuals and others, I’ve always felt that is a problem for future generations and others,” he added. “We’ve watched from studies that have shown before what it does to individuals. When you look at these photos of how it took place, you can see the actions within video games and others.”
If the House Minority Leader has studies about that, I’d like to see them, because this comprehensive report from The New York Times last year shows that the opposite is true. According to University of Southern California professor Henry Jenkins, who was cited by the Times, “the overwhelming majority of kids who play do not commit antisocial acts.”
Also, about half of adults play video games in the U.S., according to the report. In Japan, that number is 60% in a country that saw a grand total of six gun deaths in the entire year of 2014. That’s compared with 33,599 gun deaths in the U.S. that year. But yeah, video games.
In the feedback loop that is Fox News and the GOP, McCarthy was following up on comments made earlier on Sunday by Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the guy who in the wake of the worst massacre this year, threatened Antifa and bitched about someone not letting kids pray in schools.
After sending his “prayers to Ohio,” praising the “bravery of law enforcement,” and highlighting that it was an “evil act,” Patrick asked, “How long are we going to let, for example, and ignore at the federal level particularly, where they can do something about the video game industry?”
He cited the El Paso shooter’s manifesto and an apparent reference to the game “Call of Duty.”
“We know that the video game industry is bigger than the movie industry and the music industry combined,” he said. “And there have been studies that say that it impacts people and studies that says it does not. But I look at the common denominators, as a 60-some-year-old father and grandfather myself, what’s changed in this country?”
I wonder. Here’s a clue:
Rep. Tim Ryan, from Ohio, had one of the more poignant responses to the Republicans’ bullshit, telling MSNBC, “Enough is enough is enough is enough!”
“The Republicans quite frankly need to get their shit together and stop pandering to the NRA, because people are getting killed.”