In this summer of mass shootings, some connecting threads stand out. Not because they are more important than others but because they weave so relatively quietly through the news accounts.
Among those threads are violence against women, war, and maleness. Omar Mateen, the murderer of 49 in Orlando FL, reportedly beat his wife. Micah Johnson, the killer of five police officers in Dallas, TX, was accused by a co-worker in the Army of sexual harassment.
ThinkProgress reports that between 2009 and 2012, 40 percent of mass shootings started with a shooter targeting his girlfriend, wife, or ex-wife.
What more do we need to remind us that violence against women isn't a different sort of violence? It's often deadly. It can also be an indication of more to come.
Think Progress is calling it "Toxic Masculinity." The shooting deaths of 49 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando occurred just a day after a man fatally shot 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie as she signed autographs after a concert. A day later, in New Mexico, Cynthia Villegas and her four daughters—Yamilen, Cynthia Janeth, Abby, and Ida— were murdered, apparently by Villegas’ husband, Juan David Villegas who was charged in the case. In Santa Ana, CA, a transgender woman Devin Diamond, was shot and injured that same day.
The search for rational, explaining factors for horrific acts can go too far. No explanation is comprehensive and none is an excuse.
Americans own more guns than the citizens of any other country. That's a fact. The gun business is booming. The value of manufacturer Smith & Wesson stock has been rising faster in the past 8 years than stocks of Apple or Google.
The nation's history of white supremacy and racism is toxic and clearly not done yet. Justice eludes us on many fronts.
Still, I can't help but return to “Bodies of Revolution: Women Rise Against the Violence of Police, States, and Empire” in this moment. An event I had the honor of hosting last winter brought together women who work against violence on the front lines, in some of the most dangerous places on earth, including in the hands of law enforcement.
“My daughter Michelle Cusseaux was killed August 14, 2014 by the Phoenix Police Department. Michelle had a mental health problem,” said Frances Garrett in the “Bodies of Revolution” panel. “Michelle had no warrants. She had not committed a crime. She was guilty of being at home.”
It's never one thing, they say. Violence has interconnected roots: personal, national, state, non-state. The roots are interconnected. Our responses must be intersectional too. But silence about those links is killing us.