Almost two weeks ago, we experienced the 21st and 22nd mass shootings of the year. They occurred in El Paso, Texas, where 22 died and in Dayton, Ohio, where nine were killed. The question, which inevitably arises, is who is responsible? For this writer, the answer is simple. It is the National Rifle Association, the gun manufacturers and the president of the United States. (One might also wish to include Sen. McConnell, who will not allow the Senate to vote upon two anti-gun bills passed by the House.)
Trump contends the problem is with persons who are mentally disturbed and play grisly electronic games. Proof of Trump’s culpability is that a posting by the El Paso killer replicates the words of the president when they both talk of an “invasion” from south of the border.
Trump has also repeatedly uttered anti-Hispanic screeds.
Philip Rucker, writing in the Washington Post, says: “He has demonized undocumented immigrants as ‘thugs’ and ‘animals.’ He has defended the detention of migrant children, hundreds of whom have been held in squalor.”
This rhetoric goes back to his descending the escalator in Trump Tower when he mentioned that illegal immigrants were rapists. At a rally, Trump raised the rhetorical question about how can we stop these people from coming? Someone in the audience shouted “shoot them.” Trump smiled and responded “Only in the Panhandle can you get away with that statement.” Several of the Democratic candidates for president have called Trump a “racist” and a “white nationalist.” Even Joe Biden joined the chorus in a blistering refutation of everything Trump stands for. Former President Obama excoriated Trump in a speech without ever mentioning him by name.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, found that there are 1,020 in the United States today.
This is a record high, but equally shocking is the 30 percent rise in the past four years that began with Trump’s presidential campaign. Trump acolytes may say that this is a coincidence, but given Trump’s history, it is safe to say that he has “enabled” the haters.
The Southern Poverty Law Center put it this way: “Trump’s racist rhetoric and bigoted policies not only fueled the resurgent white supremacist movement but validated their paranoid fears that brown-skinned immigrants are coming to replace them.” There is an entire “replacement theory” that the white majority will be replaced by black and brown-skinned people. We heard something similar to this in Charleston, when neo-Nazis marched and chanted “The Jews will not replace us.” To be honest, population experts point out that people of color will soon constitute a majority in America and given voting patterns of the past they are likely to be Democratic voters. This is great news for progressives.
Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills and Nash wrote that “love is better than hate.” This is a lesson lost on our president. He visited a hospital in El Paso where the wounded were expecting to be comforted and Trump talked about the “crowd size” he drew on a previous visit.
We have a president who gives new meaning to the word narcissism. But there is a fresh breeze blowing on the political landscape. It augers well for a Democratic victory in 2020 and an end to the long nightmare of the Trump presidency.
Dr. Hal Sobel