[Ed. note: This was written in April 2018.]
Today, I awoke to the news that once again, another town has been impacted by a mass shooting. It seems we can hardly process one mass shooting before dealing with the devastating effects of another one. In Nashville, Tennessee, a 29-year-old white male, Travis Reinking, drove to a busy Waffle House, killing four people with an AR-15 rifle and injuring several others.
How many times is this going to happen? Once I read the information I tweeted, “When will we starting[sic] vetting white men?” (I meant, when will we start vetting white men, but Twitter doesn’t let you edit.)
The conversation that ensued after this question bolsters my point. I am going to post some of the comments and then follow up with commentary.
Metro Nashville PD
Apr 22, 2018
BREAKING: Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, IL, is person of interest in Waffle House shooting. Vehicle the gunman arrived in is registered to him. Gunman last seen walking south on Murfreesboro Pike. He shed is coat and is nude. See Reinking? Pls call 615-862-8600 immediately.
When will we starting vetting White men?
Colonel Walter kurtz
when we start vetting black women. doesnt that sound ridiculous?
Lee Ann Salas
*Racist comment alert*. Do you not realize that racism cuts in both directions? As a white woman, I would never pull the race card like that. Shame on you.
Never, and 20 years from now ( if you don’t take a stray bullet from another African American in the black community ) you’ll be asking the same shit.
You stupid fucking cow. You wanna be racist? I can be racist too bitch. You look like a fucking gorilla, maybe that’s why you hate white people? because they have more physical appeal than you?
— Trash ass. (@SwanniesFTW) April 22, 2018
Then, Lee Ann steps in like she is doing me some type of a favor by speaking up to @SwannieFTW after she has said my comments were racist, essentially calling me racist. I don’t need Lee Ann to swoop in to “save me” because she cannot see she is as bad, if not worse, than @SwannieFTW because she believes he is a problem, and she isn’t, so I had to address her.
Lee Ann Salas
Replying to @TrashAss69 and 2 others
Her comment was racist, but yours is just over the top stupidity. … Really? Calling her a cow & saying she looks like a gorilla is normal? That kind of speech is hateful and an embarrassment. (schoolyard bullies don’t impress me)
Lee Ann, I’m good. Your comment isn’t any better. You called me racist.
Robert N. Wilson III
Bigot Racist Remark
You can follow this thread on Twitter, because there are quite a few comments, but you get the overall nature of the responses. While some people did agree with me and, in fact, the tweet has been liked over 300 times, the comments addressing my tweet are what they are. While many people were commenting with the hopes that I would be angry, I wasn’t. My responses were calm and measured because I stand on what I initially asked. If many white people in America want to vet others for the “safety of this nation,” why not start with some of the people who are committing some of the worst crimes against humanity in our country? If it is really about safety, why not start there?
The real issue isn’t safety. It is racism. That is the reality. It was never about safety. Because if it were, many white people would be the First Ones to say, “We have to do something about these white men who continue to commit mass murders.” They want to make it about Everyone and Everything else, with many taking up the charge of gun control but Refusing to take up the charge of white supremacy. Travis Reinking walked into Waffle House and murdered four minorities, a tragedy that could have been avoided.
According to Secret Service Agent Todd Hudson, Reinking was in Washington, D.C. in July 2017 when he crossed a barrier at the White House and asked to set up a meeting with Donald Trump. This incident placed him on the radar of the FBI and Illinois authorities. Reinking was arrested because he refused to leave the grounds and, according to reports, he entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with community service on July 26, 2017. On Nov. 17, 2017, the court determined Reinking had successfully completed the program, and the case was dismissed. The FBI seized his guns, and because it is so generous, it then gave them back to his father. His father returned them to Reinking, and today he killed four people.
How does that happen? If that had been a black person or a Muslim person, they wouldn’t have gotten off with community service. More than likely, they wouldn’t have left the White House grounds alive. What questions did the FBI ask Reinking? How much did they vet him before allowing him back on the streets? What questions did they ask his father?
Seemingly, these are things that the Patriotic Make America Great Again people would like to know. Once again, there has been an act of domestic terrorism committed by a white man: Shouldn’t these how-dare-you-kneel-when-the-National-Anthem-is-sung patriots want to get to the bottom of this? Yet, my asking when we are going to start vetting white men since most of these mass shootings seem to follow a clear pattern, makes me a bigot, a racist, a racist bitch, a cow and a gorilla.
You cannot have it both ways. You cannot want to vet everyone else because a black or Muslim person has committed a mass shooting in America, yet somehow believe as a white man, you are exempt from that same level of vetting when a white man commits a mass shooting. The sad part is they cannot see that. They would rather argue with me than face reality, and the reality is since 1982, the majority of mass shootings — 54% — have been committed by white men, according to data from Mother Jones.
Some white men act as if they are above reproach. How dare I ask that they are questioned?! They refuse to look in the mirror and ask themselves the tough questions. They would rather make my statement about me because it is easier to attack me than deal with the truth. Reality hits too close to home. The reality is Travis Reinking looks just like them and so does Dylan Roof and Stephen Paddock and Tim McVeigh and James Holmes and Eric Harris and Dylan Kleboid and Gabe Parker and Michael Carnel and Nickolas Cruz…
On another note, after all the racist language that I faced, the insults hurled at black men and women, it turns out the man who saved the day in Nashville was James Shaw Jr., a black man. Shaw was able to wrestle the gun away from Reinking before he was able to reload and kill more people. How’s that for irony?
Update: Reinking was part of a right-wing extremist movement, Sovereign Citizen. The Southern Poverty Law Center defines it as: “rooted in racism and anti-Semitism, though most sovereigns, many of whom are African American, are unaware of their beliefs’ origins. In the early 1980s, the sovereign citizens movement mostly attracted white supremacists and anti-Semites, mainly because sovereign theories originated in groups that saw Jews as working behind the scenes to manipulate financial institutions and control the government. Most early sovereigns, and some of those who are still on the scene believed that being white was a prerequisite to becoming a sovereign citizen. They argued that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed citizenship to African Americans and everyone else born on U.S. soil, also made black Americans permanently subject to federal and state governments, unlike themselves.” •
Hannah L. Drake is an author, poet and spoken word artist. Follow her at writesomeshit.com and on Twitter at hannahdrake628.