The New Yorker:
“Was it a jihadist or just a guy?” So the seventeen-year-old girl asks, on hearing the news, landing at once on the central black-comedy question as the annals of American mass murder expand this morning. If the author of the at least fifty dead and more wounded—the word “wounded,” of course, fails to capture the extent of the maiming, just as the blank word “dead” fails to capture the dawning of grief for so many families—was someone who had, even once, communicated with or been radicalized by ISIS, no matter how remote or long-distance that radicalization, or if he was merely a Muslim from a Muslim country, then a massive act of terrorism would have been committed and a militant response, including travel bans and broad suspensions of rights, would be essential. If it was just one more American “psycho,” then all we can do is shrug and, as the occupant of the Oval Office put it, send “warmest condolences and sympathies...” President Trump, deprived from birth by some genetic accident of all natural human empathy—one should listen to a recently recovered tape of Trump, speaking to Howard Stern, in which he is actually boasting of his indifference to a man he thought was dying—speaks empathy as a foreign language and makes the kinds of mistakes we all make in a second language that we have barely mastered, placing adjectives in places that no native speaker ever would. Who sends warmest anything to the families of murder victims? Vice-President Mike Pence, who is not a sociopath, merely a Republican, knew that the right language is the language of bafflement, talking about “senseless violence” and the rest.
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