Think before you speak

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Think before you speak

© HAWKEYE Lin Miyamoto

© HAWKEYE Lin Miyamoto

© HAWKEYE Lin Miyamoto

By Ritika Khanal, Op-Ed Editor

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On Sunday, July 28, I woke up to headlines of a shooting at a garlic festival in California that had killed three people and injured at least 12 more. After the Garlic festival shooting, I was on edge, fearing that a similar situation would occur elsewhere.

Sure enough, less than a week later, I unlocked my phone to dozens of news headlines of a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas that killed 20 people. The news that 20 innocent lives had been deprived of the chance to chase their dreams left me asking one question. 

Why?

The media was reporting that the 21-year-old white male shooter was originally from Allen, Texas, about a ten hour drive from the Walmart in El Paso where he shot. This meant he had driven roughly ten hours to a seemingly random store to commit a crime against humanity. Could it be a coincidence? It doesn’t seem that way.

No matter our political views, our words matter. The way we treat one another matters. That offhand comment to a friend, the post you meant as a joke, that person you’re leaving out,”

— Ritika Khanal

The Walmart he chose is in a central location, about a 15 minute drive from the Mexican border. On the weekends especially, the store sees a variety of customers, including many from across the Mexican border and from the city’s abundant Mexican-American community. The weekend of the shooting, the store had a bigger turnout than usual as parents came to find school supplies for their kids.

After police arrested the shooter outside the Walmart, several detectives interviewed him about his motives for committing the shooting. According to those detectives, he was candid about driving ten hours from his hometown of Allen with multiple magazines for the killing. He also admitted to targeting Mexicans.

This is not the first time this nation has seen prejudices against Mexicans and immigrants in general. However, this is one of the first times that the leader of our nation has perpetuated those prejudices.

From the minute President Donald Trump began running for office, he has never hidden his views on immigration. Since getting elected, he has fed off of the rhetoric of right-wing media pundits, and they off of him. 

In 2016, Laura Ingraham, host of The Ingraham Angle on Fox News, went on the Special Report hosted by Bret Baier to comment on an alleged “invasion” of America’s southern border.

“It’s a mass of humanity right now, just walking across the border, coming across the Rio Grande. This is a peacetime invasion of the United States,” Ingraham said.”

Last year, on his signature talk show on Fox News, pundit Tucker Carlson asked, “will anyone in power do anything to protect America this time, or will our leaders sit passively back while the invasion continues?”  

These are just two examples of the charged language being used on media networks that reach millions of people every day, and the impact these words are having is evident in the 20 people killed in El Paso.

No matter our political views, our words matter. The way we treat one another matters. That offhand comment to a friend, the post you meant as a joke, that person you’re leaving out. It might not mean anything in that moment, but it slowly adds up to make a huge difference.

 Are you positively adding to the culture in your community?

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