Political rhetoric fuelling tension, says Dublin-born Bishop of Dallas

Texas ‘in a state of shock’ over sniper attack seen as product of angry political discourse

Bishop Kevin Farrel: “When you listen to the rhetoric that we are dished every night on television from our so-called leaders and politicians, what do you expect to happen? This tension in the country is at an all-time high.”

Bishop Kevin Farrel: “When you listen to the rhetoric that we are dished every night on television from our so-called leaders and politicians, what do you expect to happen? This tension in the country is at an all-time high.”

 

Dublin-born Bishop of Dallas Kevin Farrell has said that Thursday night’s killing of five police officers in the city was “a symptom” of the heightened US political rhetoric and the increased polarisation in American politics and society.

Bishop Farrell, who is from Drimnagh and left Ireland in 1965, was one of the faith leaders who spoke at a vigil yesterday to remember the five police officers killed in Dallas.

He told The Irish Times that the people of Texas city were “still in a state of shock”.

The bishop described the attack as a product of what’s going on across the US: uncompromising and angry political discourse

“It seems like it was a lone shooter, just somebody who went over the edge, somebody that’s been listening to all this,” he said of the suspected sniper, Micah Xavier Johnson.

“When you listen to the rhetoric that we are dished every night on television from our so-called leaders and politicians, what do you expect to happen? This tension in the country is at an all-time high.”

Bishop Farrell blamed the absence of discourse between people with opposing views.

“Our society – and there are many philosophical reasons for this – but we have become more and more isolated from each other, and hatred is what happens when somebody else doesn’t do what I want them to do. There is little communication between people,” he said.

He urged politicians to set aside their ideological differences and try to work out “sensible solutions.”

Bishop Farrell said that he respected the second amendment of the US constitution – the right to bear arms – when it came to guns for hunting but that semi-automatic military-style weapons, such as the one used in the Dallas attack, should be banned.

“What are you doing with an AK-47 in your house? They are meant to kill people,” he said.

“People need to be reasonable and we are just not. It is ‘my way or nobody else’s way.’ There is no dialogue or communication and they are to blame for this because that is the tone they are setting in the country,” he said of the failure of leaders in Washington to compromise.

The eight years of the Obama presidency showed that racism was “still alive and well,” he said, pointing to the attitudes of some politicians in Washington.

Slain officers

David Brown

“How do you go and tell a wife, a mother, children that their father was out there protecting people who were protesting against them, that he was there protecting them and all of a sudden somebody shoots him?” he said.

“It’s time for our country to show some semblance of respect for those in law enforcement,” he said.

Bishop Farrell, who has served in Dallas for the past decade, said that it would “take a long time” for the city to recover.

“As the mayor said today, before we were known for one thing and that was the death of Kennedy and now we are known for this thing too,” he said.