The End of Empathy

When a horrible tragedy unfolds in America, like the shootings in San Bernardino this week, Americans come together in a uniquely American way. We make vicious personal attacks on each other on Facebook and Twitter.

Instead of simply expressing shock, revulsion and deep sorrow after the seemingly nonstop gun violence in this country, Americans lash out at one another.

Empathy is dead. Mindlessly spouting NRA talking points is the order of the day. The very same conservatives who clamor for individual freedom have no mind or thoughts of their own. They simply parrot anything and everything they hear on Fox News, with no nuance or critical analysis. No wonder that they have become sheep who follow the demagogic, ignorant and racist rantings of the likes of Donald Trump. They claim to revere the Constitution yet they blatantly misinterpret the Second Amendment by using the right to have a well regulated militia as an excuse for anyone to get any kind of gun they want at any time.

Some of the Republican presidential candidates exploited the tragedy by mocking the victims. Ted Cruz not only didn't cancel a planned rally at a shooting range the day after the attack, but he went for comedy in his usual unfunny and mean way.

Cruz got big laughs from the crowd when he said, "Has anyone in this room noticed shooting after shooting after shooting happens in so called gun-free zones? Look, if you're a lunatic ain't nothing better than having a bunch of targets you know that are going to be unarmed." Is Cruz suggesting that elementary school children at Sandy Hook should have been armed with AR15 military style assault weapons? Or that office workers celebrating at a holiday party should have been packing firearms while they ate and drank? And Trump said, "I think it would've been a lot better if they had guns in that room. They could've protected themselves if they had guns."

Crazy people should not have access to guns. And that includes the Republican presidential candidates.

The recent shootings in Paris and San Bernardino have brought out the worst instincts in those Republican candidates, as they shamelessly and callously use the tragedies to make Americans even more fearful. When Chris Christie says, "We need to come to grips with the idea that we are in the midst of the next world war," he is directly playing into the hands of terrorists who want to frame this as a clash of civilizations. But Christie is only concerned with getting above 5% in the polls, and isn't interested in what's best for 100% of Americans.

Republicans, and some Democrats, refuse to even consider reasonable changes to gun laws after Americans are slaughtered virtually every day in mass shootings. It says a lot about those politicians who care more about donations and support from an immoral lobbying group, than saving the lives of innocent men, women and children. They choose to ignore the will of the people, Republicans and Democrats, as well as NRA members, who overwhelmingly support more stringent background checks among other gun control provisions. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie and most of the other Republican candidates don't care about protecting Americans. They are only in this for themselves.

And they are getting away with it, because some Americans are so filled with hate and bigotry, that they see other Americans as the problem, instead of our far too lenient gun laws.

The biggest threat to America is not terrorism. It is ignorance.