Trump’s Words On White Supremacy Were Undercut By His Actions
On Saturday, a 21-year-old suspected white supremacist terrorist killed 22 people and injured 24 at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. On Sunday, a young man killed 9 people, including his own sister, and injured 27 in Dayton, Ohio. In the span of 13 hours, 31 lives were lost and dozens were injured. There have now been 250 mass shootings in the first 215 days of 2019.
When it comes to the El Paso shooting, the terrorist posted a hateful manifesto on the website 8chan before the shooting. The manifesto echoed President Trump’s bigoted, anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Trump: “You look at what is marching up, that is an invasion!”
Terrorist: “This attack is in response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
Trump on migrants: “They’re taking our jobs.”
Terrorist: Migrants want to “fill higher-paying skilled positions.” https://t.co/SVkpMo75Hb
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) August 5, 2019
On Monday morning, President Trump sent out a tweet blaming the media for America’s hateful environment. Then, the nation awaited his speech. Before he frivolously condemned video games, President Trump hit all the marks that his aides wanted him to hit. In his 10 am remarks, Trump said our nation must condemn “racism, bigotry and white supremacy” and said his administration would take on domestic terrorism more forcefully. Trump also referred to Dayton as “Toledo.”
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The key quote from his speech: “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”
Almost everything President Trump said in his speech was undercut by his own actions. In 2017, Trump rolled back an Obama-era regulation that made it more difficult for people with mental illnesses to obtain guns. On top of that, President Trump and the Republican Party have made efforts to weaken Obamacare and decry any healthcare proposals by Democratic candidates as “socialism.”
President Trump downplayed the threat of white nationalism after the Christchurch terrorist attack, even as white supremacists increasingly behave like ISIS extremists. Mark Potok, an expert on the radical right, wrote in Rantt about the rise of white supremacist terrorism:
Another study, by the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute, found that the American far right was behind nearly twice as many domestic terror plots as Islamist groups from 2008 to 2016 — 115 cases versus 63 from radical Islamists. The Anti-Defamation League reports that 71 percent of killings by extremists in the United States between 2008 and 2017 were carried out by radical rightists. And the numbers of both hate groups and hate crimes have recently been rising.
President Trump’s white supremacist rhetoric helps to radicalize these terrorists while ignoring the threat. In moves that reflect Trump’s indifference to white supremacy, his administration cut funding to domestic terrorism and anti-white supremacy programs. As I wrote after the Christchurch shooting:
On June 23, 2017, the Trump administration cut funding ($400,000) from the “Countering Violent Extremism” program which backed an anti-white supremacist organization founded by former neo-Nazis. And according to The Daily Beast, the DHS disbanded their Domestic Terror Unit last year:
“The Department of Homeland Security has disbanded a group of intelligence analysts who focused on domestic terrorism, The Daily Beast has learned. Numerous current and former DHS officials say they find the development concerning, as the threat of homegrown terrorism—including white supremacist terrorism—is growing.”
To circle back on that video game talking point for a moment: it’s nonsense. This chart by Vox debunks it:
Long story short, don’t take anything President Trump says at face value. Until you see definitive action taken against white supremacist terrorism or meaningful gun control legislation passed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – who has blocked the Democratic gun bills. Better yet, don’t let up the pressure until he’s out of office.
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