Monday, June 20, 2016

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 6/17/2016

"Shields and Brooks on gun violence and how leaders responded to Orlando shooting" PBS NewsHour 6/17/2016


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including reactions to Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, whether President Obama should use the term “radical Islam,” the possibility of increased gun control, Donald Trump’s sliding popularity, and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ softening attitude towards Hillary Clinton.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Now to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.


Gentlemen, begin by the terrible thing that happened last weekend in Orlando, this 29-year-old man with — who had displayed erratic behavior, Mark, through much of his life.  Are there any lessons from this?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:  I’m not sure there are, Judy.

I was — I have been amazed how polarized our nation is.  Ordinarily and historically, events this tragic — and there have been none really this tragic, I guess, in just sheer magnitude — but there is sort of a uniting feeling in the country.

And that’s been missing.  We can blame our politics and our politicians.  And we will.  But it’s — I think it reflects the country.  There’s just — we live in a couple of different worlds.  Republicans overwhelmingly think it’s a matter of terrorism, and Islamic terrorism, and that that’s where all the attention — and Democrats overwhelmingly respond that it’s the availability and the promiscuous availability of weapons without background checks or adequate controls.

And so I guess the — tragedies like this have historically brought out the best in the country, and I don’t think that’s happened this time.  It definitely hasn’t.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  We think of 9/11.

MARK SHIELDS:  Think of 9/11, exactly.  Think of other times of tragedy, and even Charleston.


DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times:  I actually take of a cheerier view, I think.

I thought there was an amazing amount of simple, unadorned grief and sympathy for the victims and the victims’ families.  And the fact a large percent of them were gay wasn’t as big an issue.

That was my perception, that people of all sides said, these were human beings, God’s creatures, who were killed.  And there was an outpouring of simple grief for the people.

On the political stuff, obviously, the gun thing is divisive.  But I thought most people said, well, this is both an act of terrorism and a hate crime at the same time.  And it can be both.  And I think that’s what really just struck me about the week is, sometimes, the divisions we have between psychology and politics and religion, those divisions don’t really make sense in practice.

And we have seen this so many times with so many different shooters. They’re the same personality type.  You begin with a sense of humiliation, personal failure, personal disappointment, personal injury.  That turns into a sense of grievance, that the problem is not me, the problem is the world.

Then that turns into sort of moral outrage at the evil people who are doing this.  Then that gets weaponized by sort of some radical ideology that allows me to justify the violence.  And then you walk down the line.

And they walk down these same series of steps, and it’s just the social isolation of young, angry men.

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