The cold-blooded murder of children by gunfire seldom elicits condemnation from the American president, Donald Trump. His unquestioning commitment to the country’s multibillion-dollar domestic arms industry, and in particular the National Rifle Association, limits his compassion, let alone his political will to ending such massacres. So it was that Trump this week merely offered polite commiserations after 19-year-old Santino William Legan cut short the lives of a boy, a girl and an adult, and wounded 12 others at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California. Trump praised law enforcement officers “who swiftly killed the shooter”, but beyond that said little about the perpetrator of the abominably evil acts.
Such an omission was as irresponsible as it was crass. It gave propagandists time to portray Legan as an outsider, focusing on his foreign-sounding first name. They hoped that he would prove to be from poor immigrant stock, ideally with links to Mexico or a troubled region of the world such as the Middle East or sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, Santino is Italian for “little saint” and an extremely popular name among the kind of white middle-class communities that Legan grew up in. He came from Gilroy, a quaint town surrounded by countryside and best known for its garlic and boutique wines. Nobody has ever considered deporting him or his family to their country of perceived ethnic origin. No one has attempted spreading collective guilt in Gilroy and beyond beceause of crimes committed by its young white men.
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