Republican Representative Mac Thornberry, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, just came up with a brand-new way to deflect discussions about guns and Las Vegas with quite possibly the most inappropriate comparison ever. Speaking at a breakfast at the Heritage Foundation, he compared the people killed in Vegas to troops killed in accidents:
It’s alarming to me these trends. … We have, give or take five, we have lost as many service members in 2017 to accidents as were killed in Las Vegas, just for some perspective, and many more that have been killed in combat.”
Yes, both are alarming. Both are also completely separate problems. The people killed in Vegas died senselessly and needlessly at the hands of yet another angry white man. The troops killed in combat were fighting for their country. This comparison implies two things that might seem like they’re at odds with each other, but aren’t: One, that the deaths in Vegas just aren’t as important as deaths in combat in the military, and two, that our men and women abroad, who are dying in these war zones, are dying for nothing.
It’s hard to imagine anything more insulting to our troops than, “We’re putting you in harm’s way and risking your life for literally nothing.” It’s also hard to imagine anything more insulting to victims of mass shootings than saying, “Sorry this happened, but you just aren’t that important.” These are two very separate issues that must be addressed in very separate ways, with proper respect shown to each.
57 troops have died in high-profile accidents this year, including two collisions between Navy ships and merchant ships. These accidents are senseless and need to be addressed, too, but again, it’s insulting to both the Vegas victims and the troops to make this comparison. As the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Thornberry really ought to know better than to tell anyone, “We don’t care about your life or your death.”
There’s a special place in hell reserved for people who do what Thornberry just did.
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