Yes, we need prayer, and so much more

Published 5:58 pm Friday, August 9, 2019

I wanted to be really sure about my thoughts and words before I waded into the commentary waters over the events of last weekend.

While, as of this writing, the motivation of the Dayton shooter is still unclear, in El Paso, a 21-year-old white man apparently posted to social media a hate-filled, anti-immigrant rant before getting in a vehicle and driving nine hours and 600 miles from the Dallas suburbs to a Walmart on the U.S. border where you can see Mexico from the parking lot.

And all to kill as many brown-skinned people as possible. With a semiautomatic, military-style rifle – mind you, a weapon of mass destruction – he killed 22 people and wounded a dozen more in just a matter of minutes.

The scourge of homegrown racial terrorism, if you want to call it that, isn’t new. Since the birth of the KKK during Reconstruction, through the White Citizen’s councils of the 1960s, to the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995 that killed 168 people, including 19 children, the radical right has used guns and bombs as a means of intimidation and fear-mongering for over a century.

Whether you thought it was a maudlin response or not, President Trump said a lot of the right things at the White House Monday in condemning the shootings, racism, bigotry and white supremacy.

Better late than never. Now he needs to take a good cold, hard look at the man in the mirror and end his racially charged rhetoric and likewise tweets for political gain. It is divisive, dangerous and diversionary.

Racism, the Rev. Jesse Jackson told the Chicago Sun-Times, is a pathology. He called it unscientific, immoral, a sickness, and something that has too often now become deadly.

The ideology of white supremacy is spewing hate, anti-immigrant and racially polarizing rhetoric. And whether we want to admit it or not, this is fuel for many of these mass killings. Because these are not killings of passion, but killings of political beliefs. Calling the shooters mentally ill too easily dismisses their plan of action, their ideology of white supremacy and of hate.

They know what they’re doing and they know why.

Trump has to use his “bully pulpit” for something more than bullying. He must lead the way with action, not just words. He has to take a moral stand for humanity and curb his ugly rhetoric.

We have a gun crisis, a hate crisis and a leadership crisis in this country.

Trump must join the American people who are demanding sensible gun safety measures.

Mr. President, start twisting arms. The U.S. House has already passed gun legislation that would likely reduce such mass killings in the future, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring it before the Senate for a vote. Let’s get some action going on this front.

These political acts of domestic terrorism are an attempt to undercut what is good and right with our democracy. The combination of well-armed white nationalists and white supremacists, and a multiracial democracy simply cannot co-exist; it is way too combustible a mixture.

We need action, we need gun control, and we need the political will and moral leadership to stop the violence, save our children and save the country.

I’m banking that Trump is better than that. I know America is.

A friend had a great hashtag they shared earlier this week: #SATOTAP (Sick and Tired of Thoughts and Players).

I think they’re right, because we need something else that works. Prayers and condolences just are no longer enough.

Gene Motley is a staff writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at: or by calling 252-332-7211.