Recently, the city of Jacksonville, Florida, faced a mass shooting at a local store, where an attacker openly fueled by racist hate shot and killed three Black individuals. An assault rifle that the assailant used in the atrocity had swastikas emblazoned on it, and the local sheriff noted the racism. “He hated Blacks, and I think he hated just about everyone that wasn’t White,” Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters informed CNN. “He made that very clear.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who represents a Congressional district in the northern regions of the state, where Jacksonville is also located though it’s not his district, issued a public statement about the incident, and he somehow managed to not reference racism. “Jacksonville suffered from a terrible attack yesterday after a sick person opened fire on a Dollar General, killing three people,” Gaetz said on X, formerly called Twitter. “We condemn this in the strongest possible terms and hope for a day when violence like this is absent from our society.”
Gaetz isn’t the only prominent Republican to have, for whatever reason, rhetorically skipped town rather than acknowledging the threat of racism.
During a recent interview, GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy characterized those raising related concerns after the incident as politicizing the situation — though the circumstances, involving a white man shooting and killing three Black individuals after repeated expressions of targeted hate — was already intensely political, and racist violence is not as associated with left-wing politics as it is, per the basic facts, with right-wing extremists. Elsewhere, Ramaswamy also blamed forces like the media for creating what he called a racialized culture, as though it’s journalists’ and activists’ who actually somehow created the centuries-long history of violent racism with which certain communities live and must grapple. Why is it so arduous for these figures to acknowledge the facts presented to them?
Jacksonville suffered from a terrible attack yesterday after a sick person opened fire on a Dollar General, killing three people.
We condemn this in the strongest possible terms and hope for a day when violence like this is absent from our society.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) August 27, 2023