We have two separate back-to-back mass shootings to contend with. One in El Paso, Texas where 20 people were killed and more than two dozen injured and the shooter has been captured. The other in Dayton, Ohio where nine people plus the shooter were killed and another 26 injured. The killers both used rapid-fire assault weapons that enabled them to reach this high toll in just minutes.
The shooter in El Paso came to that border town with a significant Hispanic population from a suburb in Dallas and apparently posted a manifesto just before the shooting containing the usual white supremacist, anti-immigrant, tropes, such as that there is a white genocide going on according to a plan being executed by Jews and that white people needed to fight back.
This shooting can be laid squarely at the feet of Donald Trump who has been unrelenting in his demonizing of immigrants and other people of color and his condoning of white supremacists. Beto O’Rourke, who is from El Paso, has not minced his words and rightly blamed ‘racist’ Trump for this attack. Pete Buttigieg said Trump is condoning white nationalism. We will have to see how many others are willing to lay this at his feet.
Mehdi Hasan shows how similar Trump’s rhetoric is to that of white supremacists.
Let’s be clear: in an age of rising domestic terrorism cases — the majority of which are motivated by “white supremacist violence,” according to FBI Director Christopher Wray — Trump is nothing less than a threat to our collective security. More and more commentators now refer, for example, to the phenomenon of “stochastic terrorism” — originally defined by an anonymous blogger back in 2011 as “the use of mass communications to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.”
Sounds pretty Trumpian, right? As I wrote in October: “The president may not be pulling the trigger or planting the bomb, but he is enabling much of the hatred behind those acts. He is giving aid and comfort to angry white men by offering them clear targets — and then failing to fully denounce their violence.”
And as I pointed out on CNN earlier this year, there is a simple way for Trump to distance himself from all this. Give a speech denouncing white nationalism and the violence it has produced. Declare it a threat to national security. Loudly disown those who act in his name. Tone down the incendiary rhetoric on race, immigration, and Islam.
Trump, however, has done the exact opposite.
How empowering it must be to these white supremacists to think that the president of the United States is sympathetic to their hateful views. But don’t expect any of the top Republicans to do anything, though. From them there will only be calls to ‘not politicize this tragedy’ and that ‘now is a time for healing and not recriminations’, that ‘this is not who we are’, and what we need right now are ‘thoughts and prayers’.
We do not know much yet about the Dayton shooter’s motives and why he chose that time and place. We know that these white supremacists seek, by their individual actions, to inspire others to take similar actions and create some sort of widespread spontaneous revolt. This is not unlike the thinking of ISIS and one wonders when these white supremacists will be inspired to adopt another ISIS tactic, that of the suicide bomb.