President Donald Trump’s apologists express outrage when his affirmation of white supremacist themes (e.g. “an invasion”) is linked to mass shootings by white supremacists. (Try to imagine them taking that position if President Barack Obama had echoed radical Islamist themes.)
Trump’s defenders and that gaggle of conservatives who attack Trump critics go so far as to claim it is Trump’s critics who provoke racism because they accuse Trumpers of racism, or something like that. Frankly, it’s basically: “Blah, blah, blah . . . Don’t accuse Trump of racism when he demonizes black and brown people. . . . Blah, blah, blah.”
Evidence doesn’t matter that much to the legions of Trump cultists, but the rest of us should note just how intimately Trump’s words are linked to violence. ABC News did the legwork:
“A nationwide review conducted by ABC News has identified at least 36 criminal cases where Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault.
“In nine cases, perpetrators hailed Trump in the midst or immediate aftermath of physically attacking innocent victims. In another 10 cases, perpetrators cheered or defended Trump while taunting or threatening others. And in another 10 cases, Trump and his rhetoric were cited in court to explain a defendant’s violent or threatening behavior.
“Seven cases involved violent or threatening acts perpetrated in defiance of Trump, with many of them targeting Trump’s allies in Congress. But the vast majority of the cases—29 of the 36—reflect someone echoing presidential rhetoric, not protesting it.”
This study did not include the Christchurch, New Zealand, terrorist attack in which Trump’s replacement language was prevalent in the suspect’s writings. The Washington Post reported: “Like the suspect accused of killing 11 Jewish synagogue-goers in Pittsburgh last October, the suspected mosque shooter in New Zealand allegedly drew inspiration from the rise of white nationalism in America. The 74-page manifesto posted online hailed Trump as a symbol ‘of renewed white identity and common purpose.’”
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Moreover, this is a new phenomenon. “ABC News could not find a single criminal case filed in federal or state court where an act of violence or threat was made in the name of President Barack Obama or President George W. Bush.”
So let’s review: Trump openly expresses overtly racist sentiments and propagates the notion that Hispanic and black immigrants are squalid and disease-ridden, have terrorists in their midst and are staging an invasion. White supremacist killings in the Trump era cite Trump personally (not just his white supremacist rhetoric), and we’re supposed to believe Trump has no responsibility for the mass killings.
Right-wing apologists can tell us that this is equivalent to killings by those with left-wing views, but that’s a pathetic lie. In the latter, no one is citing Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., by name; no one is quoting their language, and in almost all instances (e.g., Dayton, Ohio) there is no evidence that the motive is political at all.
And remember, the right-wing Trump apologists were the very ones who deplored failure to highlight Islamist fundamentalist terrorists’ motives even when the latter shouted, “Allahu akbar!” The Trumpers had no problem holding accountable mosques where radical messages were preached. Indeed, they wanted them put under surveillance. And yet when the topic is white nationalism and the source of the hateful message is the president, right-wingers simply cannot connect the dots.
In the face of all of this evidence and their willingness to attribute responsibility to speakers when the ideology at issue is Islamist fundamentalism, why do so many GOP members of Congress, conservative outlets and conservative pundits deny that Trump has anything to do with the epidemic of white supremacist killings (not to mention the rise in hate crimes)?
It doesn’t take too much imagination to conclude that if they acknowledged the facts in front of their faces, they’d have to seek Trump’s removal, renounce their support for him and make amends for spouting Trump propaganda. And we can’t have that, can we?