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Weekend’s killings bring out the term ‘stochastic terrorism’

Evidence markers rest on the ground after a mass shooting
REUTERS/Bryan Woolston
Evidence markers rest on the ground after a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend.

The tragic mass murders of the weekend taught me a new term. Maybe you already knew it; it was new to me. Here it is: “stochastic terrorism.”

According to dictionary.com, it refers to: “Acts of violence by random extremists, triggered by political demagoguery.”

CNN brought an expert on the phenomenon Sunday morning, Juliette Kayyem, who explained it. Kayyem also wrote an op-ed, published in the Washington Post, headlined “There are no lone wolves,” explaining it further.


If you don’t read her piece, just focus on the dictionary definition and you’ll get much of the idea. A demagogue, engaging in demagogic rhetoric, may trigger people, to whom the demagogue has no connection, to commit acts of violence, like just getting a gun and going somewhere and shooting a bunch of strangers.

As hard as they might try to root out organizations of terrorists, it’s close to impossible for those trying to protect us from getting ahead of an instance of stochastic terrorism. How could they?

There’s no law against demagoguery, including demagoguery that might reach the ears and depraved minds of people full of hate, that might be “triggered” by some, let’s say, race-based political rhetoric that leads them to believe that the heroic and patriotic thing to do would be to shoot up random strangers at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, or on a crowded street in Dayton, Ohio.

Asked on Sunday how to deal with such attacks, President Donald Trump said: “We have done much more than most administrations, not talked about very much but we have done actually a lot. But perhaps more has to be done.” He added: “If you look at both of these cases, this is mental illness. These are really people that are very seriously mentally ill,” he said.

He didn’t mention the term “stochastic terrorism,” and I haven’t seen a comment yet from the president about the idea that Saturday’s mass shootings might be in that category. I can’t say for sure whether he is familiar with the word “stochastic.” I wasn’t, before yesterday.

But during the presidential campaign, Trump did state: “I’m very highly educated. I know words, I know the best words. But there’s no better word than stupid.”

Comments (45)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/05/2019 - 09:43 am.

    ‘Mental illness’ is a copout.
    Our ability to diagnose it is limited (speaking as a psychologist); mental illness in general is a very weak predictor of violence. Trying to identify sources of violence by diagnosing mental illness would produce far too many false positives.
    Many other countries have as high an incidence of mental illness as we do, but a radically lower incidence of killings. The difference is guns — societies with as much mental illness but a tenth or a hundredth of the number of guns have correspondingly fewer killings.
    The answer should be obvious,

    • Submitted by richard owens on 08/05/2019 - 10:14 am.

      Race hatred is taught at home, or so I have com,e to believe. But the violence of the stochastic terrorist seems unique to homicidal shooters.

      8CHAN is apparently a place populated by video gamers who have turned reactionary in their politics.

      What does hours and hours of violent “play” (and little or no physical touch, interaction with reality) do to a young man’s identity? What thrill do the game makers deliver that makes the rampant killing and mayhem translate directly to a Trump fantasy “soldier”?

      The acting out of these violent urges is worthy of some study. Witnesses in El Paso describe a completely “calm” killer- one without feeling and almost in a trance. How could this even happen? Normal reactions to the carnage would surely destroy any fantasy the perpetrator might have had, if he was able to see and feel the gore and the suffering in front of his eyes?

      Eye and ear protection?

      What will this do to our kids, now getting ready to go back to school.

      • Submitted by John Evans on 08/05/2019 - 04:31 pm.

        The term “stochastic terrorism” refers not to the shooter, but to public speech that can be expected to incite somebody, somewhere to commit terrorist actions, like mass shootings.

        The “stochastic terrorist” is the speaker.

    • Submitted by Henry Johnson on 08/05/2019 - 10:41 am.

      I agree Paul, its a cop-out and always has been.

      It’s a lie to say “people kill people” as if the semi-automatic weapon that person held in their hands HAD NOTHING TO DO with 15 people laying dead on the ground in a matter of seconds.

      People by themselves physically aren’t able to do that of damage, so obviously this kind of mass killing is a “deadly partnership”, between a person AND a gun.

      Would allow someone to legally buy a suitcase nuclear bomb which that then is used to 100,000 people in a flash, and then afterwards say “Hey – nuclear bombs don’t kill people, people kill people!”?

      Of course not, because It’s ludicrous to pretend that the access to that powerful weapon was not a main reason those 100,000 people are laying dead.

      The same is true of an assault rifle, it’s too much nearly-instant killing power to be in the hands of the general public IMO.

      I own a hunting gun myself, but I don’t think assault weapons or bumpstocks, etc., etc. belong in the hands of the general public, and certainly the laws need to be tightened up to not have gun show exemptions and other weaknesses in the background checking process.

      I believe that in countries that have strong gun control laws, they have something like 1/200 th the number of gun fatalities, so let’s stop this denial of pretending that the availability of assault weapons in the US has nothing to do with our 200 times larger death rate by guns.

      As the article suggests, there’s actually a third party in the “deadly partnership” I mentioned, and that’s a demagogue leader stirring up violence in his followers, which we certainly have in Trump.

      How many times has he urged supporters to “beat the crap” out of protesters in the audience saying “I will pay your legal fees!”, or hinted that maybe guns would take out political opponents, or just generally promoted hate for anyone who opposes any of his positions?

      I’d suggest replacing the expression ‘stochastic’ with a less gobbledygook name for it, but we as a society do need to acknowledge that leaders who promote violence and hatred, as Trump does on pretty much a daily basis, are part of the problem.

      Realistically, we don’t have the tools to make everyone in the country mentally healthy, but we CAN demand that our leaders stop encouraging hatred and violence – by the way we vote when we go to the ballot box.

      • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 08/05/2019 - 11:15 am.

        It’s Time to Modernize the Second Amendment

        The Second Amendment was approved in 1791 when there wasn’t a single gun with anywhere near the capability, capacity, or killing power of some of today’s guns. Today’s high capacity magazines and high-powered cartridges have a single purpose, high capacity killing. They are weapons of war. There is not any need for the public to have them. It’s Congress and the NRA that has the blood on their hands by not doing a single thing to bring the Second Amendment up to today’s reality.

        There weren’t any weapons of war in 1791 that come anywhere near the capability of today’s weapons. It is time to modernize the Second Amendment. I know it will be a hard-fought slog going up against our weakling congress’ sugar daddy, the NRA.

        The NRA and gun industry have a symbiotic relationship, which isn’t necessarily good for the country. Gun ownership and RESPONSIBILITY need to go together and not everyone is capable of the RESPONSIBILITY part. Walk into any gun shop today and there will be a wall of black, radical looking guns that have nothing to do with traditional American sports. For me, the radical looking guns are peddling exactly what the NRA peddles – fear and intimidation, which sells guns for the NRA’s sugar daddy, the gun manufacturers. There is no need for the public to have access to WEAPONS OF WAR with high capability and high capacity killing power.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/05/2019 - 01:08 pm.

          Until about 50 years ago, the 2nd Amendment was interpreted by the courts to refer to the collective population of the states (the people) to maintain “well regulated militias” i.e., the National Guard. The current interpretation as supporting the right of individuals to possess firearms is a recent innovation.

        • Submitted by Henry Johnson on 08/07/2019 - 09:31 pm.

          Agreed Tom, and I think more and more of the general public agrees – even 52% of republicans according to this polling –

          https://www.businessinsider.com/assault-weapons-ban-poll-gun-reform-2018-2/

          If we say assault weapons are fine in the hands of citizens, what’s next? – RPG’s, surface-to-air missiles, mortars and artillery pieces, how about land mines?

          Surely there has to be a point where the danger these powerful weapons pose to the community is more of a liability than their benefit as ‘personal defense’ for the person owning them.

          I think the founding fathers who wrote the 2nd amendment, if they were here now and were brought up to speed on the killing power of assault weapons, and their use over and over and over and over again in these mass killings, would be the very first to say “Are you nuts? We never intended this to be the result of that amendment! Change the amendment for pete’s sake to make it less broad!”.

          And as Paul Brandon has pointed out, the writers of this amendment might say that it was primarily written to support the continuation of state militias, the wording is vague and general enough to be open to different interpretations.

          For example, what exactly is an “arm”? Is an RPG an “arm”, I suppose you could say it is.

          Is a suitcase nuclear bomb an “arm”? I guess you could argue it is – note our use of the term “arms race” in referring to competing nuclear armament.

          So did the founding fathers want no limitations at all on the massive killing power of these types in the hands of ordinary citizens, just so that ‘militias’ can continue to exist? I don’t think so!

          Surely commonsense has to start prevailing at some point (when there are enough dead bodies in our streets, as I would argue there are now).

          So, if it were politically possible, I’d say yes, revamp the 2nd amendment to have some specific limitations to allow for reasonable ‘personal defense’ while not putting our communities and so many lives at risk.

      • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 08/05/2019 - 11:24 am.

        The simplistic and wrong NRA view on what kills.

        It isn’t the gun that kills it is the human. The NRA is half right, there is a human involved. A gun is not an inert object and it too is involved. As soon as the trigger is pulled it then becomes the gun that kills, but the human is required to start the firing sequence.

        The NRA is killing American’s daily with their simplistic definition of what does the killing. Wayne LaPierre, the NRA spokesman, makes millions each year to make his ridiculous comments each time the NRA defends the gun as not being the killer.

    • Submitted by Toni Bergner on 08/08/2019 - 09:29 pm.

      All the talk about mental illness as being a factor in these horrific mass shootings …… why is it always a white male that commits the horrific act? Don’t other nationalities and women suffer from mental illness ….. they do and so why aren’t they committing these atrocities? I don’t buy the argument that mental illness is a determining factor. What is a better word for these mass murderer’s condition …. mental …… ??????? It is worse than an illness.

  2. Submitted by joe smith on 08/05/2019 - 10:06 am.

    Maybe the “Bernie loving” nut job Hodgkinson, who shot up the GOP baseball practice, was triggered by Bernie? Betts, the Ohio shooter, was a self described Leftist who loved Elizabeth Warren, did she trigger him? Assigning one why to a crazy person is impossible. By the time you shoot up a mall, a school, a congressional baseball practice, a Walmart you have crossed over many barriers of normal behavior. Assigning a political motive of being triggered by language by an individual is trying to score cheap political points. Hopefully we are better than that.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/05/2019 - 10:34 am.

      Just what the debate needed: some false equivalence. Honestly, I’m surprised you didn’t bring up antifa.

      When have Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren said anything that could be construed as an incitement to violence? Did Sanders ever laugh publicly at jokes about shooting Republicans? Did Warren ever talk repeatedly about an invasion that needed to be stopped? Do they cultivate the support of violent extremists?

      “Assigning a political motive of being triggered by language by an individual is trying to score cheap political points.”

      And we all know no Trump supporter would ever dream of doing such a thing.

    • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 08/05/2019 - 10:43 am.

      Sorry, but hope is not a method.

      Mental illness occurs all over the planet, in just about every society, and murderers, who are almost by definition mentally ill, kill people in just about every country. The most significant difference between those other countries and our own is that, in those other countries, semi-automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines are not widely and readily available to the general public.

      The murderer limited to a knife or an axe or even my replica Hawken rifle, a muzzle-loader, may be able to kill the spouse or other family member or neighbor with whom s/he is angry, but s/he will not be able to kill dozens of people – largely unknown and completely innocent – at the same time, even as “collateral damage.”

    • Submitted by Henry Johnson on 08/05/2019 - 12:17 pm.

      “Assigning a political motive of being triggered by language by an individual is trying to score cheap political points”

      I see, so when Hitler started spreading hate against Jews after he took power that had nothing to do with Jewish shop owners suddenly having their windows smashed or vandalized in the coming weeks and months, or being beaten up after being dragged into a dark alley?

      It’s not “trying to score cheap political points” to point out that Trump tries to stir-up hate on a nearly daily basis, that’s just a fact!

      Demagogues since history began have stirred their supporters up over and over into acts of violence.

      Can you really seriously disagree on that?

      Do you not hear the daily hate talk and insulting nick-names, the calls to “beat the crap” out of protesters, “I’ll pay the legal fees!” at rallies, the praising of the Montana politician who assaulted a journalist (“That’s my kind of guy!”).

      And is it then not a logical conclusion that stirring up hate like that over and over and over can then lead people who are already on-the-edge in terms of their mental illness to take that plunge over the edge into committing one of these mass murder acts?

      Regarding Bernie Sanders or Warren – first they don’t encourage violence like Trump does, and 2nd, I’d bet that there are 50 already on-the-edge Trump supporters for every on-the-edge Bernie supporter – you can see that in the way the whole crowd takes up hate chants at a moments notice during Trump rallies as he directs his animosity at various individuals or groups.

      Open your eyes please Joe, this guy is a classic rabble rouser, and that can, and does in fact lead to more violence in a society.

      That’s why police across the country are reporting a serious rise in hate crimes since he took office.

      Do you think that really has nothing to do with Trump or his use of hate talk on a nearly daily basis, or a network like Fox news, that trumpets and reinforces that hate talk on a daily basis?

      This is NOT the America I grew up in, that considers it “OK” to beat up people just because they disagree with you or have different political opinions.

      That’s way more like Nazi Germany, and exactly what our brave soldiers, true conservatives, fought and gave their lives or to stop and put an end to in World War II.

  3. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/05/2019 - 10:12 am.

    One problem with associating mass shootings with political demagoguery is that these mass shootings have been occurring with some regularity for at least thirty years. The first one I can recall is from 1966 the University of Texas tower sniper shooting where 14 people were randomly murdered by sniper Whitman. Of course, a society that was not in the thrall of a demagogue, his political party and a minority lobby of fanatic gun-lovers would have passed sensible legislation regulating access to weapons of mass murder long ago.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/05/2019 - 10:41 am.

      That would be LBJ you’re describing?

      • Submitted by Stephen Dent on 08/05/2019 - 11:57 am.

        Charles Whitman, 25,[2] was studying architectural engineering.[3] In 1961 Whitman was admitted to the University of Texas at Austin on a scholarship from the Naval Enlisted Science Education Program.[L]:19 While at UT, Whitman met and married his wife, Kathleen. Whitman struggled with gambling and bad grades, and he lost his scholarship in 1963.[4]

        In the months prior to the attack, Whitman had sought professional help for “overwhelming, violent impulses”,[3] including fantasies about shooting people from the tower.[5] An autopsy conducted after his death revealed a hypothalamic tumor.[6]

        NO, Mr. Tester, it was not LBJ. Nice try trying to demonize a Democrat.

    • Submitted by Henry Johnson on 08/05/2019 - 02:35 pm.

      Jon, I don’t think anyone is saying that mass shootings never happened before, I think they are saying they are clearly happening MUCH MORE OFTEN since we put a hate-monger in the white house.

      Just as there would still be some car accidents even if there wasn’t a single drunk on the road, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t in fact a lot more accidents because of the presence of drunk drivers.

      So it isn’t correct to say that there is no link between drunk driving and traffic accidents, just because drunk driving doesn’t cause ALL accidents.

      No, It doesn’t cause all accidents, but it surely STRONGLY INCREASES the number of accidents.

      In the same way, while hate-mongering politicians aren’t a factor in ALL mass shootings, I can’t see how anyone could honestly argue that there is no linkage between that hate-mongering and the increased number and severity of those killings since 2017.

      Especially when the shooters specifically refer to the same talking points being used by the politician in question, when they are explaining why they committed that mass murder.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/05/2019 - 11:06 am.

    I don’t know why anyone would even mention Donald Trump’s response of any kind. I think it’s relatively obvious that he simply doesn’t care. I don’t why anyone would expect the most illiterate POTUS in history to consider much less comprehend Stochasticism.

    Although stochastic terrorism may be a legitimate concept, I’m not sure it’s a better explanation than racism… I don’t see how you get to Trump inspired massacres like this without racism? Is this racist terrorism or stochastic terrorism? I wouldn’t want to obscure racial and antisemitic qualities of Trump inspired violence in order to service a shiny new concept.

  5. Submitted by Mike Schumann on 08/05/2019 - 11:46 am.

    The demagoguery you described is currently coming from all sides of the political spectrum. Maybe some of the lunatic fringe are becoming unhinged due to the complete lack of any meaningful progress on fixing any of the key issues facing our country. Limiting the availability of assault weapons and high capacity magazines is one issue. But so is securing our borders and putting an end to illegal immigration.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/05/2019 - 12:11 pm.

      Because illegal immigration prompts people to take guns to Walmart and shoot up everyone in sight, right?

      You’re just echoing what the El Paso shooter said. Nice.

    • Submitted by Brian Simon on 08/05/2019 - 12:46 pm.

      There is a reasonable discussion to be had over important issues like border security & the most effective ways to stop / discourage illegal border crossings ir ensure workers earn a livable wage.

      What is not reasonable is to suggest violence as a solution to those problems. Laughing off suggestions that we just shoot people who are presumed to be here illegally is also illegal and immoral. There should be zero tolerance from our political leaders, and our friends & neighbors for such talk. Yet we’ve recently had police officers suggesting a congressperson should ‘get a bullet’ for their political beliefs. In what kind of society is such a view tolerated or even laughed off?

    • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 08/05/2019 - 01:03 pm.

      So is questioning an eternal, privatized, self-justifying war machine.

  6. Submitted by Richard Lentz on 08/05/2019 - 12:03 pm.

    As a psychiatrist, I agree that blaming mental illness for mass shootings is a copout. Almost all individuals with mental illness, even with psychosis, are not violent. Violence in the context of mental illness is rare. Most mass shooters are antisocial characters, amoral, what in the vernacular are called psychopaths — these folks are not mentally ill. They do not have the altered mood, perception, thought or cognition that characterizes mental illness. If some shooters do have mental illness, they are also antisocial characters and the shooting arises from that and not mental illness. Sociopaths give psychosis a bad name.

  7. Submitted by Kent Fralish on 08/05/2019 - 12:06 pm.

    Mental illness is the root of this madness. Right minds don’t participate in demagoguery of any kind. Monday morning psychiatrists are not going to solve this.

    • Submitted by Richard Lentz on 08/05/2019 - 12:46 pm.

      Sociopaths do not have right minds. Yet distinguishing sociopaths — amoral bad people — from mental illness is essential.

      Also, violent acts occur in a broader social (and demagogic) context. Guns and leaders matter.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/05/2019 - 01:11 pm.

      This has already been answered by professionals.

    • Submitted by Henry Johnson on 08/07/2019 - 09:38 pm.

      ” Right minds don’t participate in demagoguery of any kind ”

      I agree, but the disturbing part is that based on this correct premise, we have about 40% of the voting public not in their right minds, since they give a classic, hate-mongering demagogue a favorable approval rating in polls.

  8. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 08/05/2019 - 01:00 pm.

    The problem of mass shooters in America is less demagoguery, or guns, or mental illness, but more about the fact that we are a nation steeped in war, where neither political ideology dominant in America questions an eternal war on/of terror, a “war” increasingly privatized, tied to GDP and self justifying. So much of this mass shootong violence is like the violence of this unquestioned warmongering, metastasizing and coming out sideways in the body politic.

    Despite that we have spent so many trillions fughting a war that can’t be won with next to nothing to show for it but a bunch of bombed out countries in turmoil, we somehow use that as a justification for bringing those methods and tactics home to fight “terror” here. The results are predictable.

    Stand down, America.

    • Submitted by Henry Johnson on 08/05/2019 - 03:17 pm.

      I think there’s probably a lot of truth is what you’re saying William.

      We as citizens have since 9/11, whether we liked it or not, have been forced to get used to this idea of endless war, and never-ending and huge military spending.

      World war II only lasted 6 years against two organized and heavily militarized countries, but we’re on year 18 in Afghanistan – it’s almost like someone WANTS that war to go on and on and on and on?

      So perhaps it is something of a logical extension of that war mentality that it’s not that much of a stretch to think that maybe after listening to some politician demonize a group of people for months on end, that maybe some of the followers come to believe that they should join in the never-ending war themselves, to do their duty in order to “wipe out the enemy”, who we are being “invaded” by after all.

      Never-mind the “invader” is some half-starved woman pushing a baby-stroller with a crying baby inside, and not even wearing a pair of shoes while she’s walking.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually a moderate independent, and am NOT a believer in open borders – I don’t think we have the resources with our 22 trillion and growing debt to take on all the world’s poor people.

      However, let’s not pretend the half-starved woman without shoes is an “invader” that we should throw in a cage and separating her from her children, or that we have to buy assault weapons to defend ourselves against her.

      You don’t have to demonize immigrants or treat them inhumanely as Trump has done, in order to have a policy that is the same as the policy most other countries around the world have – namely that we will let you in as an immigrant if we believe that you will benefit our country, otherwise, I’m sorry, we can’t accept you.

      I’ve looked into some other countries, I’ll give New Zealand as an example, and trust me, they only want you if you see you as a benefit to their country.

      There’s no need for this ‘invasion’ nonsense to justify have a stronger immigration policy, and in fact with his inhuman policies and hate talk, I think Trump has actually strengthened the hand of those who favor near open-border policies, because he’s generated tremendous sympathy for the plight of immigrants and how they’ve been demonized and mistreated under his administration.

      He’s his own worst enemy in terms of actually combating illegal immigration and the flow of illegal drugs too – his ‘wall’ stops drugs far less effectively than other methods that attack the problem where it occurs – at ports of entry and via airplane and boat – very little as I understand it is backpacked across the desert that a wall would deter.

      • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 08/05/2019 - 05:04 pm.

        While I would not demonize migrants, not even those hard working illegal immigrants, I find the open borders mantra of leftists and socialists to be naive in the extreme.

        Open borders would be fine if there were equaility between all nations, and the population of the world were about 2 billion, with the vast majority healthy and well. With seven and a half billion people on this planet, most of us with no concept of the limits of “consumerism”, exterminating species and polluting globally, the idea that open borders would be good for America is absurd. And with a billion poor south of our border, any clearly thinking American should be concerned about migrants potentially overwhelming services here, turning most of America into a “third-world” nation if the borders were truly open.

        That said, mass shootings like that in San Diego have the opposite effect the shooter intended (to the degree such a maniac monster can have intentions), creating more sympathy for open borders and gun control.

        • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 08/06/2019 - 01:43 pm.

          Slightly off point, but: I follow the political discourse fairly closely, and have never heard a leftist advocate for “open borders,” let alone that it is a “mantra” among leftists. And apart maybe from Sanders, who insists on calling himself a democratic socialist, I’m not aware of any actual “socialists.” Indeed, the meaning of “socialism” suggests that it’s not coherent to say that a person even can be a “socialist.” You’re reciting Fox talking points, whether or not that is your intent.

          • Submitted by Henry Johnson on 08/06/2019 - 10:58 pm.

            ” I have never heard a leftist call for open borders”

            Hasn’t it been suggested by some Charles that ICE be eliminated?

            And hasn’t it also been suggested that we give citizenship to pretty much every immigrant currently in the country, or at least those who have been here “a long time” (in other words, those who have broken the immigration laws for the longest time)?

            I’d say if you want to strip enforcement of immigration laws by elimination of ICE, and want to give citizenship to most of the people already here illegally, or to most of them, that the person is essentially advocating “open borders”.

            Maybe there isn’t enough honesty to say out loud “I’m for open borders”, but when you want to give away citizenship to most people here illegally, and don’t want the immigration laws enforced, I’d say that person is actually pretty much advocating open borders, wouldn’t you?

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/07/2019 - 10:57 am.

              “Hasn’t it been suggested by some Charles that ICE be eliminated?”

              Eliminating ICE is not the same as open borders. ICE is a brutal, out of control agency that is beyond reform. Abolish it and replace it with a more humane enforcement mechanism. No one has said “abolish ICE so there is no way of enforcing the immigration laws.”

              “And hasn’t it also been suggested that we give citizenship to pretty much every immigrant currently in the country, or at least those who have been here “a long time” (in other words, those who have broken the immigration laws for the longest time)?”

              Not that I’ve heard. There is a difference between advocating a “path to citizenship” and giving citizenship to ” pretty much every immigrant currently in the country.”

              Incidentally, just because an immigrant has been here “a long time” does not necessarily mean that they have “have broken the immigration laws for the longest time.” There is no time limit for permanent resident visa holders, and there is no requirement that they apply for citizenship. Someone who holds such a visa could stay here his or her entire life. My Grandmother lived here for over 50 years before she applied for citizenship.

            • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 08/07/2019 - 11:33 am.

              Henry –

              I certainly don’t claim to speak for all “leftists” or to have heard everything a leftist has said on the subject of immigration. But I know and talk with, or have listened to, many who would fall in that category, and every one of them sees immigration basically as Mr. Duncan says he does: that we should do our best to welcome those who just want to make a decent life for themselves, within the terms and limits that are necessary to maintain the stability of our society and communities within it.

              You appear to have recognized the weakness of your argument by finding that you are compelled to qualify it – by asserting that the left is “essentially” and “actually pretty much” advocating open borders. An immigration policy, like most real-world policies, is necessarily pragmatic, and has many elements. An element of amnesty for those who came illegally but since have built lives and contributed to the community is a reasonable if not essential element of a sound immigration policy. As to those who advocate to eliminate ICE, to my understanding that rests principally on the view that it is pragmatically important to separate law enforcement and civil administration of immigration matters and, more fundamentally, that ICE is an agency so toxic and corrupt that we need to pull out its roots and replant. Neither of these positions, nor both together, constitutes an “open border” stance.

              I find it useful to keep in mind that I don’t have any moral claim to the right to live in this country that is superior to someone making his way up from Central America. It just happened that I was born here, and he was born in Honduras. Immigration policy being deeply pragmatic, that is a sufficient reason for my right, and his restriction. But it is not a moral reason, and when we can accommodate freedom of movement across artificial national boundaries consistent with social stability, we should do so.

          • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 08/08/2019 - 12:36 pm.

            The Democratic Socialists of America has recently voted for Open Borders at their national convention, with a list of reasons why there should be no borders of any kind. I previously tried offering a link to a Medium article about it but Minnpost would not print it.

            • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 08/08/2019 - 03:49 pm.

              By jiminy, it appears you’re right. Stated without any qualifiers that I can see. I would like to think that it’s for rhetorical purposes, or to stake out a position, because an absolute position isn’t defensible in the actual world.

        • Submitted by Henry Johnson on 08/06/2019 - 11:23 pm.

          My sentiments exactly William. You also raise the topic which I think is the massive invisible elephant in the room – overpopulation.

          It drives every serious problem known to man, yet it is rarely if ever even acknowledged as the slightest bit of a problem!

          A central American mother has 5 or 6 kids, when she can hardly support herself, and then we are supposed to welcome her in, and start supporting all of them because she didn’t believe in birth control (and maybe in part because her Catholic religion told it was a “sin” to practice contraception?).

          Sorry, as you say, we can’t open our doors to being the savor of a billion poor people, many with high fertility rates and no desire or intention to practice birth control, without rapidly turning into a third world country ourselves.

          We’re 22 trillion and counting in debt, it’s time to stop pretending we’re “the richest country in the world” as so quite a few people will often say (inaccurately), and to realize we have limited resources.

          I’d much rather see us spend money helping our own homeless and poor people, citizens who’ve lived here all their lives and paid taxes, than acting as if we were super-rich, and that it’s now our role to take care of every poor non-citizen in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, etc. etc.

          I feel sorry for those people, and I WISH we were a rich country able to take care of all the world’s poor, but we simply aren’t.

          Everyone should be treated humanely IMO, and should not be regarded as part of an “invasion force”, which is just ridiculous and inaccurate, but that doesn’t mean we should give access and citizenship to every poor person who shows up at our borders.

          • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 08/08/2019 - 01:00 pm.

            It has been brought to my attention that both the Christchurch and El Paso killers are being called “ecofascists” by many in the mainstream media and in the blogosphere, because their manifestos display a concern for nature/ecosystems. Even talk of “invasive species” and their effect on ecosystems is being labeled by some as racist by extension. It is possible that even suggesting limits on immigration of any kind in respect to not overpopulating America and making more of an ecological mess of it than it is, like China or India etc, will invite accusations of racism and ecofascism.

            Personally, I think everyone in America, Indigenous, Black, Latino, Asian, White, Jewish, African etc should be concerned about taking care of America, the land, waters, pollinators, people and community, and start thinking about limits to economic growth and by extension, immigration.

  9. Submitted by Elisa Wright on 08/05/2019 - 03:05 pm.

    It doesn’t look like we’re going to get anywhere with the demagogue. If he would like to make it easier for people to receive mental health services, that couldn’t be the worst outcome. (The worst in my opinion would be doing everything to get more guns into people hands so they can protect themselves from these stochastic terrorists.)

    It is frustrating that mass shootings happen so frequently in the U.S. while there is no solution in sight. I’ve been noticing that churches have been investing in gun manufacturers & retailers so as to have a voice in the way the company is run. They have made some progress with this.

    I’ve discovered reading some of the notes from these shareholder meetings quite amusing. The Sisters of Mercy, for example, moved to have the director of the board replaced with someone who was independent. Funniest thing I read all day.

    • Submitted by Rich Crose on 08/05/2019 - 07:25 pm.

      What a great idea. Beat them at their own capitalist game. Give to charity to help the poor? Give to charity to stop the manufacturing of WMD?

      Schools should hold bake sales with the proceeds going to buying stock in gun manufacturers. Who knows, maybe they could make a profit.

      Better yet, buy up the handful of companies that make bullets. Guns don’t kill people, bullets kill people. Raise the price of ammunition but give the military and police a discount so they don’t interfere with your “business plan.”

  10. Submitted by John Evans on 08/05/2019 - 07:37 pm.

    So apparently there’s this new thing called “domestic terrorism.” The PiPress ran a story on the El Paso shooting that never used the “domestic terrorism” in the subhead, but not at all in the story. In fact, the word terrorism never came up.

    I haven’t seen any definitions of terrorism that require it to be international, so I don’t see how “domestic terrorism” is different. Yet NPR ran an piece wondering why there is no federal crime called “domestic terrorism.” The story did not once use the word terrorism without this new qualifier.

    For some reason, when a Muslim American shoots up an army base or sets off a bomb at a public event here in the U.S., we don’t hesitate to call it terrorism.

    But if the perpetrator is a white, christian American, whether his targets are black people, gay people, abortion providers or immigrants, we just can’t bring ourselves to call him a plain old terrorist.

  11. Submitted by Joe Musich on 08/05/2019 - 10:22 pm.

    Okay …,the choice a socio path with a magazines filled with ammunition or someone with a sling shot ? I’m counting …..okay then someone living in a nation with a huge war department with so many weapons that they give the crumbs to the cops but before creating a video game as a recruiting tool or what is the other choice come on start using your imaginations …..

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