No one is surprised when hundreds or thousands of human beings perish in natural disasters like fires, floods or hurricanes.
When the killer has a heartbeat, it’s a whole different story.
The Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas has – as of this writing – taken the lives of 59 people and injured almost 500.
This was one of those up-close and personal disasters. And the media coverage of the story was unique because we saw the events unfold from the victims’ perspectives.
Every video clip and every still picture taken during the shooting and its immediate aftermath was provided to TV and social media by the people who had been attacked.
What we saw was both horrifying and inspiring.
Once it was clear that shots were being fired into the crowd of 30,000 gathered at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, the initial reaction was panic and confusion. But within seconds, most of those under attack fought back however they could, relying on whatever training they had and following their instincts to help others – even total strangers – who were in trouble.
The majority of this crowd weren’t looking for safe spaces like the ones set up on college campuses to protect sensitive students from opposing opinions. They were looking for people who needed help. And they didn’t wait for someone else to issue advice or grant permission to act.
Photos and videos provided by concertgoers showed gruesome images of innocents being shot and killed and dying where they fell. But as the carnage continued, we also saw acts of bravery and courage.
Police, firefighters and other first responders raced toward the danger, as they are trained to do. But we also saw countless images of survivors in the audience – including some who were wounded – leading victims to safety or shielding them from bullets – sometimes dying for their efforts.
We saw pictures of people offering comfort to victims, tending to wounds and not waiting for ambulances to arrive, but using their own vehicles to transport people to the nearest hospital.
A call went out for blood donations and so many people showed up that blood drive organizers had to ask donors to make reservations and come back at a later date.
The media didn’t have video of protesters claiming the incident was caused by racism, bigotry or hate, so they settled for saying the victims got what they deserved. The award winner in this category was Hayley Geftman-Gold, a now-fired executive VP and attorney for CBS.
As soon as news of the shooting broke, Geftman-Gold went straight to her Twitter account.
Instead of expressing sorrow for the dead and injured, Geftman-Gold basically said the victims got what they deserved. “I’m actually not even sympathetic,” she Tweeted, “because country music fans often are Republican gun toters.”
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, after praising remarks given by the president at a post-event news conference, said, “Something else, I think, to keep in mind–a lot of these country music supporters are likely Trump supporters.”
Zeleny was clearly implying that if the crowd had preferred different music or had different political opinions, the president’s words would have been different.
The media will continue to portray the Las Vegas shooting as an example of what’s wrong with America. This time it won't work. The videos shot by the victims of this tragedy and published without TV media filters didn't show what's wrong with America. The pictures of average citizens rushing to help fellow citizens in need showed what’s right with America.
Alex McRae is the author of “There Ain’t No Gentle Cycle on the Washing Machine of Love.” He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org