US founded on white supremacy, and the doctrine is still upheld by politicians: Parkland shooting survivor
Published: May 18, 2022 11:37 PM
Law enforcement officials are seen at the scene of a mass shooting at Tops Friendly Market at Jefferson Avenue and Riley Street on May 15, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. Photo: VCG

Law enforcement officials are seen at the scene of a mass shooting at Tops Friendly Market at Jefferson Avenue and Riley Street on May 15, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. Photo: VCG

Editor's Note:

The mass shooting in Buffalo of New York State last Saturday that killed 10 people has triggered discussion of white supremacy prevailing in US society. Why are some young, white men addicted to the "great replacement" theory? Is gun violence becoming more and more serious in the US given the current political and social atmosphere? In her I-Talk show, Global Times (GT) reporter Wang Wenwen talked to Ryan Deitsch (Deitsch), a survivor of the Parkland shooting massacre in 2018, about his experience, his understanding of white supremacy and gun control in the US.

GT: You survived the Parkland shooting massacre in 2018, how does this experience affect your life later on?

That experience was a very difficult one that I have yet to get over like many other people who have survived it and experienced it. Parkland was deemed the safest city in Florida for about a decade. To know that is possible in a place like that really changed the course of my entire life going forward.

I have depression, anxiety, and PTSD directly as a result of not only the shooting, but the activism that I took part in afterwards, meeting with all these people who have suffered, who have lost loved ones, who have been shot themselves, some permanently disabled. To meet with these people and speak with these people is a very heavy experience. It weighs so much on your heart, especially for someone like myself who considers themselves sympathetic and empathetic to other human beings.

GT: The shooter of the latest Buffalo attack reportedly embraced the "great replacement" theory. What is your understanding?

It is not only absolutely ludicrous, absurd and backwards, it's also very dangerous when taken to this violent extreme where people actually take it upon themselves to systematically murder individuals. Yes, white people are having less children, but that doesn't mean replacement. People aren't actively doing this. It isn't a fight against white people. White people are not victims here. And the people who see themselves as victims, especially armed individuals and white, are taking it into their own hands. 

And they take that fear. Fear is used to control people a lot, especially in this country. I've seen media use fear to get people to act a certain way. With Fox News' Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, you see these individuals fear mongering white people, especially older white people, but young whites are also watching this, feeling that they are out of place and feeling that they don't belong. Because they are being told this, but in actuality, this is a white supremacist country. Our constitution was written by slave owners and white supremacists. We continue to uphold these doctrines. It's very much at the root of our society. 

So that's why I feel this idea still has grips still as hold, because we've defined ourselves as a white nation, despite the fact that I don't believe this. I know that even from the very beginning, natives played an active role; Africans played an active role; and immigrant populations from all over the world have also played an active role in the American story.

GT: There seems to be a certain profile in the many mass shootings in recent years - young white men. Some people equate this phenomenon to white terror, do you agree?

This is terrorism. We like to, in this country, differentiate. I've often seen terrorism only applied to Muslim populations. Terrorism is just the act of committing terror against a population, violence against the population, using fear to manipulate a population often through violence. 

When you go into a grocery store and target African Americans, that is terrorism, although the president has said this is hate crime and an act of white supremacy. And this is something that we have to denounce outright. One thing that I've seen, whether we're talking about the Parkland shooting or this most recent shooting in Buffalo, these white supremacists get their day in court. They get the time to actually have their case heard and use a lot of state resources to do so. Despite the fact that when it is a non-white perpetrator, oftentimes the police will kill them on site, not to say that is a right course of action.  But there is a clear double standard here when it comes to the white male shooter, as opposed to any other shooter. It is more often than not that the white male shooter will get his day in court, will get time in jail and sometimes even be let go after a certain number of years, if they were found guilty. The victimization, the fear mongering of whites, has been going on for some time to control our population in certain ways. These young people are very susceptible to it. I can certainly see where certain people are coming from in terms of what they fear for their future, for their job prospects, for their security and safety.

But those sort of pseudo fears for most white men, especially middle class, are actually authentically real for other populations. And they don't acknowledge it with the same degree of concern when it comes to the safety of African Americans, Latinos, women. Anti-Asian hate has also been on the rise in this nation and it is something that has not been properly combated. 

Ryan Deitsch

Ryan Deitsch

GT: Do you think US politicians have done enough in easing racial conflicts?

I truly believe that American politicians are sadly doing more to promote racial tensions in our society, especially when it comes to the Republican Party which called COVID the "China virus," that is actively stoking racial tensions. When it comes to the Black Lives Matter protests, and whether you want to fund or defund the police, those have been stoking racial tensions because of the absolute disregard that both Democrats and Republicans have had toward those who are harmed most by the police, primarily, again, black and brown peoples. 

These politicians don't have to act this way. But they take the low hanging fruit of this racial tension that exists deep within America, because again, we are a white supremacist nation. Our very founding documents were written, forged, and signed by white supremacists. And we continue whether we're talking about through law enforcement, whether through the writing of laws themselves. There is still that under through line of white supremacy, being perpetuated and being recreated generation after generation, despite not needing to happen, our politicians continue to uphold it. 

That is something that I certainly have been fighting against and have been standing against alongside many others who have been fighting long before I have. But right now, I do not see people coming together in ways they need to. I don't see people creating a sense of understanding. Despite President Biden talking about healing the soul of America, he is not taking enough steps to actually quell white supremacy; to actually address that this is a fundamental issue that we have in our nation.

GT: Do you worry that gun violence is becoming more and more serious in the US given the current political and social atmosphere?

The rhetoric that the president is putting out sounds nice and good. But he is not signing nearly enough executive orders to actually address this problem. He is not taking more action to ensure that the Senate and the House take action on these issues.

I believe that guns play an active role here and we have to be addressing them, but they are not to be all that end here. We have a violent and dangerous society, and when you arm a violent and dangerous society, more violence and danger will erupt. We are at risk of having many more shootings in the future. We are at risk of suicide by gun as well. It is an awful reality in this country as well. And that too needs to be stemmed.

The fact of the matter is the political climate of today seems that certain people don't want to touch these issues. Certain people want to sound like they're doing the right thing to quiet people down. But then once people stop yelling at their legislator, people don't seem to do much about it.

More and more people are getting upset and feeling powerless. When these acts keep happening, every time a shooting occurs, whether it's an individual, whether it's a mass murder, I have a certain pit in my heart. Death by gunfire is something that's completely needless, but we act as if it is as natural as lightning. But it is not. I really do hope that our country is able to change the tune. I really hope the United States can actually do something about this issue, because they do have the power, they do have the authority, they act like they don't, but they do.

GT: You are for common sense gun safety legislation. How could it reach real progress?

There are some states in this country that believe it is fully right that you don't need to have any training whatsoever to own a firearm. You need no training and permissions whatsoever to carry your gun in public, and in some cases, on school grounds. This leaves such a grey area for individuals who might not have the proper training. 

We have such weaponry as 100 barrel round that is killing people far too frequently. As a result, some weapons may need to be taken off the streets. I believe we need to disarm white supremacists; we need to disarm domestic abusers. Sadly, many cops fall into both of those categories. And that becomes difficult because the very people who are enforcing our laws are actually breaking some of them, but the accountability just is not there. Hopefully, we can institute accountability for officials and those who are trying to commit these acts of mass violence. 

The ability to mass slaughter is not costly enough. It is too easy to commit these acts of mass violence. And we have to raise the price of that. Because right now, the people who are paying the price are the people who are dying, the people who are losing their loved ones, those who have fallen due to gun violence. That is something that we cannot get back. The hole that was left in the Parkland community is a hole that will never be filled. I truly believe that we need to be making less holes in our communities. We need to be bringing more people together and ensuring that these acts of violence are being stopped.