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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.