The death of 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard is not just another news story. It is a tragic account of 12 Americans who lost their lives as a result of one man’s actions. The “why” of these actions is irrelevant. What is germane to this issue is that 12 of our fellow Americans are dead.
There will, of course, be attempts on the part of the media and others to ascribe motive. As we have already heard, “racism” has once again reared its ugly head as a justifiable cause. I venture to say, the truth is none of the people actively involved know what real racism is, most of all the shooter, not yet 35 years old.
I confess, it is dangerous to ascribe motive, but there are some basics by which we can offer a hopefully informed opinion. If someone is constantly told something, one comes to believe it. If there is no real knowledge of the facts, then perception becomes reality. We invariably act on what we believe to be reality, regardless of the truth of the matter. If it is real to us, then it is “real.”
According to reports, Aaron Alexis claims racism as a partial motive for his actions. No one can dispute this charge because it existed in the shooter’s mind. His perception of reality becomes the motive for his actions. This is clearly indicated by this statement from a former employer, “He felt a lot of discrimination and racism with white people especially.” In his mind, the reality was that he was cheated out of something rightfully his and he blames racism.
Unfortunately, his perception of racism is based on a false narrative. For those of us who lived through the actuality of institutionalized racism, we know that America is nowhere near the real racism of 50 or 60 years ago, but for someone who has not experienced real racism, as in the case of the shooter, he could ascribe others’ “racist actions” to his perception of racism, no matter how far from actual racism they may be.
The real tragedy is not that racism exists in America, but that the constant drumbeat of racism causes those who lack the knowledge of actual racism to believe that it still exists in America. Let us not forget that whites were not the only victims of Aaron Alexis. His charge of racism is just an excuse for his choices.