The massacre in Las Vegas on Monday started with hate. A gunman so despised human life so much that he opened fire on an arena filled with people, killing and wounding them at random: 58 are dead and over 500 injured. But instead of mourning this hatred, many use it as an excuse to wage their own political wars.
“Las Vegas, we are grieving with you—the victims, those who lost loved ones, the responders, & all affected by this cold-blooded massacre,” Hillary Clinton said in a tweet on Monday morning.
She should have stopped there, but she had to use the tragedy as ammunition.
“Our grief isn’t enough,” Clinton continued. “We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again.”
She’s not putting politics aside: She’s using the deadliest shooting on U.S. soil as a political point just hours after it happened, and she’s not alone.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, also leapt at the opportunity, tweeting : “Thoughts and prayers are NOT enough. Not when more moms and dads will bury kids this week, and more sons and daughters will grow up without parents.”
“Tragedies like Las Vegas have happened too many times,” Warren continues. “We need to have the conversation about how to stop gun violence. We need it NOW.”
This isn’t grief, it’s exploitation. And it heaves an ideological message onto tragedy for partisan gain. Both sides of the gun control debate are guilty of entrenching themselves deeper into their positions and yelling ever-louder.
“I am going to save people a lot of time and energy,” John Cardillo, conservative host of ‘Off The Cuff’ and a former NYPD officer, said on Twitter Monday. “I will never support gun-control. Never. Never means never.”
Grief is a useful instrument in the politician’s toolbox. For them, it’s not an emotion — it’s a guise.
Many people will decry the types of weapons the gunman used and how he got them; others will dispute the success of regulating and extending gun control legislation. They yell loudly about silencers. One side argues the tragedy could have been avoided with more gun control; the other argues it could have been avoided if people had more guns.
Both sides use the resulting anger and fear for political gain without even waiting for the blood to dry.
This is not a political tragedy. It’s a human tragedy. The dead leave behind families and neighbors and friends who will never be able to fill the void in their lives, now absent because of the destruction of an evil man. The injured hundreds will look at their scars for years and remember the terror of that moment.
Using this atrocity for political gain only cheapens the suffering of the victims. It is the opposite of solidarity. It is the opposite of grieving. It is malicious and counterfeit. It is wrong.
After Monday, we must love our neighbors and our political opponents now more than ever. We must not give way to hate and, in doing so, despise our fellow Americans, including those who hold a different view.
If we choose to hate, how are we so different from the shooter?
Brendan Clarey is a senior studying English.