“An underlying reason for inaction is our sense of individualism and also American Exceptionalism. The very idea that we as Americans have a right to own a gun and not be interfered with by our government is a long-standing, yet probably minority, position. That we feel the US is the best in the world means we don’t like to copy what’s good or what works in other countries, such as gun legislation or health care,” Myles Hoenig, who ran for the US Congress in 2016 as a Green Party candidate, told the Tasnim news agency.
Following is the full text of the interview.
Tasnim: A gunman armed with a powerful assault-style rifle on Saturday opened fire at the Cielo Vista Walmart store in n El Paso, Texas, killing at least 20 people and injuring 26 others. Another shooting in Ohio killed nine people and wounded 16 others at in downtown Dayton, Ohio. What is your take on the deadly incidents?
Hoenig: The only thing truly unusual about these two incidents is the timing, that they were back to back, all within 24 hours. Most mass killings in the US happen weeks apart, in enough time for politicians to offer their ‘thoughts and prayers’, make a lot of political noise, or simply shrug it off until the next one happens. Ever since Columbine where two teenagers shot up a high school, the nation thought that Congress would really get serious about gun legislation. And when Sandy Hook happened, where an elementary school was shot up, and nothing came of it, then it is pretty much written off that any reasonable legislation will ever happen. In 1988, a lawn dart killed a child and they were banned. The toy industry is powerful but immediate and effective. The gun industry is almost untouchable.
But there is one difference now that just may effect change and that is that Trump is president and no rules apply for anything.
Tasnim: At public events and on television, several candidates pointed to a need for more gun restrictions, such as universal background checks. But they directed much of their criticism at Trump. They called on him "I say to stop “the racist anti-immigrant rhetoric” and “the hatred in this country which is creating the kind of violence that we see." What are your thoughts on this?
Hoenig: Democrats, in particular, like to think that President Trump invented violence. They look for single actors and blame them for all the evils that befall us. Hillary Clinton was a miserable candidate and was the only person who could lose to Trump but they blamed Russia and the Kremlin for her loss. The Republicans are no better at the blame game as during the Cold War Russia, again, was the ‘Evil Empire’, as President Reagan called them. And both parties call whichever foreign leader they wish to remove in order to take their countries’ resources another ‘Hitler’, as a way to justify their actions.
President Trump is being called out by Democrats, in particular, for exacerbating racial hostilities, and in this case, rightly so. His entire adult history has been predicated on demonizing immigrants and people of color, whether as a landlord or now as a politician. But racial animosity did not begin with Trump, either, as having a black president, Obama, was reason enough for the white supremacists to start feeling ‘justified’ in acting out on their bigoted and racist views.
Tasnim: Following the two mass shootings, President Trump said that “hate has no place in our country”. What is the root cause of this violence? Do you think it is related to the imperial system and the exercise of extreme individualism? It seems that modern individualism has no place in the US and the country is still using the ninetieth-century individualism. Kindly explain.
Hoenig: No president or administration has done enough to stop this kind of hatred but this president has done its fair share in flaming the hostilities and tensions. Its immigration policies, and campaigning before election are based on racism and hatred. Their indifference to the working poor and people of color is really no different than past administrations but the tone of their rhetoric is far more lethal. Although his entire administration stayed away from the talk shows on Sunday morning, as a way of avoiding discussing what needs to be done, public pressure just might push Congress to do something, but if it does, it will be so watered down that it would remain insignificant and fuel for campaign rhetoric and promises for the 2020 election.
An underlying reason for inaction is our sense of individualism and also American Exceptionalism. The very idea that we as Americans have a right to own a gun and not be interfered with by our government is a long-standing, yet probably minority, position. That we feel the US is the best in the world means we don’t like to copy what’s good or what works in other countries, such as gun legislation or health care.