Well, it’s happened folks! America managed to top Orwell’s Hate Week.
- On Wednesday, a disaffected man with a history of violence randomly shot and killed two African-Americans at a Kentucky Kroger store after failing to gain entry to a black church.
- On Friday a disaffected violence prone man who publicly railed against Democrats and minorities with hate-filled messages online was arrested and charged with sending 14 mail bombs to people criticized by President Trump.
- On Saturday morning, a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue, murdering 11 people attending Jewish services.
Against the backdrop of this national tragedy the president, on his way to Republican campaign and fundraising events in southern Illinois, was asked if out of respect for the slaughtered Americans he shouldn’t consider re-scheduling the fundraising events.
He opted to continue campaigning because he didn’t want to allow the perpetrator to unsettle our way of life. Additionally, with the mid-term election so near he didn’t want to disrupt the political momentum the Republican Party was enjoying.
Asked if the deadly shooting indicated a need to revisit gun laws, the president replied that the shooting had little to do with gun laws. He opined that an armed guard would have been able to stop the gunman immediately, though 4 police officers were shot during the bloodbath. President Trump, like many in the gun community, adamantly believes that more guns will equal less crime.
These senseless acts of terror share a common denominator: each was perpetrated by an alienated violence-prone white male who believed he was called to political action.
President Trump knows the mail bomb suspect was his staunch supporter, but says he bears “no blame” for the suspect’s actions. According to Trump, the fake media, not him, must shoulder the weight for the spike in hate speech and violence.
The spike in hate crimes, referenced by the president, confirms reports which suggest that today more and more hate crimes are springing forth from the divisive, belligerent and searing content of the national political campaign the president has been embarked on for the past two years. He doesn’t seem to understand that hate speech gives rise to hate action.
The president refuses to believe his inflammatory political rhetoric is a dog whistle to disaffected violence prone individuals. However, reports from crime scene investigations indicate each of the individuals charged with these sickening crimes was quite vulnerable to the types of hate messages the president has been spewing forth.
Most enlightened leaders stop short of sanctioning violence but not the president. You may recall the campaign rallies when protesters were present and Trump personally encouraged the crowd to forcibly remove protesters. Trump would shout, “Get ‘em outta here!” Then Trump would encourage crowds at these rallies to “knock the crap” out of protesters. Then he promised to pay any resulting legal fees.
Matthew Heimbach, a well-known white nationalist, was charged with roughing up a black protester at a Trump rally in Louisville, Kentucky insisted Trump should pay his legal fees since the president exhorted him to violence and publicly offered to foot the bill for his legal defense.
If you require more evidence of Trump’s attempts to license violence and validate hate as an emotion, consider the vitriol directed towards the press at his rallies or the gleeful foot-stomping chants to “lock her up.” At one rally Trump fully endorsed a rage filled supporter who sucker-punched a protester.
How about the President’s meek response to Heather Heyer’s murder by a White Nationalist Trump supporter in Charlottesville? His most recent act of promoting hate-based violence was his endorsement of a congressman who assaulted a reporter saying, any guy who can body-slam a reporter is my kind of guy. What about his declaring the media an enemy of the people?
When the president identifies ways for his supporters to channel their anger at the president’s critics and opponents instead of the government, he must bear responsibility for the acts of terrorism his actions may incite. Trump doesn’t see his adversaries simply as the loyal opposition. He presents them as a hostile enemy who must be purged.
Whether it’s the press, oppressed people of color, immigrants, Hilary or Democrats in general, Trump brands critics and opponents as an enemy worthy of ridicule, scorn and eradication.
Intentionally or not, President Trump’s xenophobic and inflammatory rhetoric is fertile ground for fomenting domestic terrorism. At his so-called campaign rallies and in his speeches, he identifies opponents as “enemies of the state” who should have rage directed against them. Then he sets about arousing hatred and sanctions violence against them.
Like Orwell’s Hate Week, the president shows a remarkable talent for making Americans hate each other. He seems to prefer “divide and incite” over “calm and unite” as his political mantra. So much for being the president of all Americans.
At the moment, Trump is grimacing because he believes blame for the surge in hate crimes over the past two years is being unfairly laid at his feet. To this, I would note that inflammatory speech, even speech uttered by the president advocating violence is protected under the First Amendment, unless the speech is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.
However, I would also note that for the president of the United States to engage in such seditious behavior is extraordinarily reckless and he should be held to account.
Also checkout: How Melania Trump became a U.S. citizen.