While investigators were still looking for possible terrorist links to the Chattanooga military centers shooting, Republican presidential candidates including Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal and Donald Trump quickly jumped to cash in on the shooter’s Muslim-Palestinian identity.
However, the same political figures are now avoiding to comment on the cultural and religious background of John Russell "Rusty" Houser, the man who opened fire in a Louisiana movie theater, killing 12 people and injuring more than 70 others before killing himself.
In the wake of the tragedy in Tennessee, Paul – notorious for his Muslim-bashing speeches – recommended restricting immigration from Muslim countries and scrutiny of American Muslims.
“I’m very concerned about immigration to this country from countries that have hotbeds of jihadism and hotbeds of this Islamism. There was a program in place that Bush had put in place – it stood for entry-exit program from about 25 different countries with a lot of Islamic radicals, frankly. I think there does need to be heightened security. Nobody has a right to come to America, so this isn’t something that we can say, ‘Oh their rights are being violated,’” he said during an interview with Breitbart News.
But Paul was (dead) silent over the tragedy in Lafayette to the extent that there wasn’t – still isn’t – even a tweet from him condemning the attack. He didn’t comment on Houser’s pro-Tea Party ideology or the fact that the gunman used Paul’s presidential slogan “Stand With Rand” on his social media accounts.
The double-standard in reaction to the two massacres is baffling. Perhaps for Paul, religious and political affiliation of an attacker only matters when they are a Muslim.
In the wake of the Chattanooga shooting, Jindal, who has claimed Muslims are “colonizing” America, urged President Barack Obama to “tell the truth” about radical Islam instead of calling it mere acts of violence.
“It’s time for the White House to wake up and tell the truth…and the truth is that Radical Islam is at war with us, and we must start by being honest about that.”
Jindal, however, failed to draw any religious comparisons following the tragic incident in his own state. Houser was a Christian who followed the extremist Westboro Baptist Church.
Donald Trump criticized Obama for trying to being “politically correct” with Islam following the incident in Tennessee but he did not call for tougher gun laws after Houser shot 12 people dead with a .40-caliber handgun.
Instead, Trump pushed back against repeated calls to strengthen gun control legislation.
"These are sick people," Trump said of Houser, who was reported to be mentally ill. "This has nothing to do with guns. This has to do with the mentality of these people."
The silence from gun lobbies on the Lafayette shooting is somewhat understandable, though still extremely cowardly. However, when political figures hoping to run the country someday try to ignore such an important incident, it is not just wrong. It’s criminal.