Treven Taylor Anspach.
Rebecka Ann Carnes.
Quinn Glen Cooper.
Kim Saltmarsh Dietz.
Jason Dale Johnson.
Sarena Dawn Moore. These are the names of the nine victims, shot to death in Oregon at Umpqua Community College.
Oregon joins an ever growing list of places in which mass school shootings have occurred in the same way that these nine people join the growing list of those who have lost their lives to gun violence.
When the story first broke about the shooting, investigators took to the air waves that they would not reveal the name of the shooter. In fact, County Sheriff John Hanlin even went so far as to say that no one would ever hear him utter the name of some who committed such a cowardice act.
With all the secrecy surrounding the identity of the shooter, it was easy, reflexive even, to imagine the shooter was some sort of Muslim mad man once again misusing Islam to fulfill some sort of personal need. American Muslims braced themselves once again for what was sure to be a media shit storm.
But when the identity of the Oregon shooter was revealed we saw a familiar story playing out on our news screens. Chris Harper-Mercer, who committed suicide not long after the shooting, was not the Muslim anyone expected and because Chris was white instead of brown, the media labeled him as “mentally disturbed” as opposed to the proper labels of “terrorist” or “murderer.”
Speculation later followed that Chris was specifically targeting Christians on his rampage which prompted social media to explode with the hashtag #BecauseImAChristian. This speculation has been largely unfounded as Chris’ Internet history hasn’t shown a disdain for Christians. Investigators reported that his blog postings and MySpace account show an affinity for the IRA and a dislike for organized faith as a whole. So Christians can rest assured that in a largely Christian America, not even the deranged shooters are trying to attack them?
So what was this all about? The fact is, no one but Chris had that answer. Was he mentally troubled? His father won’t admit to that despite there being another report that both parents told news media that Chris was seeking treatment.
But since when is being mentally disturbed a way out? Why do news media outlets immediately jump to find reasoning for nearly all white shooters when minority shooters are never granted the same leeway? More importantly, why does any kind of shooter get any kind of leeway?
In the midst of tragedy we are once again forced to stare injustice in the face. The injustice of how this country views and delivers news of extreme violence. It is not delivered as fact, it is delivered as agenda pushing, it’s sensationalism. People are murdered and the murderer is either a heartless terrorist or he is mentally disturbed and we must all reopen the discussion on how mental health is treated in America.
Then of course, there is the excess of talks on gun safety and laws, then you have the right wingers spouting that the second amendment is the greatest amendment of all time and people like Obama and Hillary are just trying to take “our” guns away. Guns, by the way, that don’t get sold to Muslims in places like Florida where private shop owners refuse to sell them.
Is Chris Harper-Mercer a sympathetic victim of a mental health failure in America or is he a terrorist?
What Chris Harper-Mercer is, is dead. And he took nine other people with him.
Image: KSAT News