Last weekend, dozens and dozens of people were injured and killed in mass shootings across the United States, including one in El Paso, Texas, in which the attacker killed some 20 people after posting a manifesto online parroting the exact same kind of anti-immigrant rhetoric that President Donald Trump himself has used. Despite the facts, while speaking to reporters this week before departing for a presidential visit to the sites affected by the weekend’s shootings including El Paso and Dayton, he found it in himself to not just insist that there’s no connection, but that his rhetoric “brings people together”! Imagine the kind of egomania required to insist that leading people in chants from “Build the wall!” to “Send her back!” constitutes some kind of national healing ceremony.
Asked whether he thought his rhetoric contributed to the recent violence, Trump asserted:
‘I don’t think my rhetoric does at all. I think my rhetoric brings people together. Our country is doing really well.’
President Trump defends his rhetoric: “My rhetoric brings people together” pic.twitter.com/0IyAoPK4mN
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 7, 2019
The only people brought together by the rhetoric are those who have been uniting in their hate of immigrants and other marginalized groups in the wake of Trump giving their stances an air of legitimacy by parroting them on the national and world stage.
He’s definitely one of the few who even hold this idea in the first place. Protests have been planned to respond to his visits to El Paso and Dayton; in the latter locale, locals have even planned on bringing out one of the infamous balloons depicting Trump as a crying baby using Twitter. That imagery first popped up during protests surrounding his first visit to the United Kingdom, and they’ve been used against the president many times since, around the world.
The planned protests against Trump’s visit to the mass shooting sites mirrors something that unfolded after a mass shooting rocked the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where an anti-refugee gunman killed 11 people in what’s likely the largest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States. Trump had been drumming up hatred and fear of asylum seekers like those some Jews have tried to help — and then, that shooting happened. Locals turned out for large demonstrations on the occasion of Trump’s visit, which unfolded against the wishes of some local leaders.
Trump has only made somewhat of a show of addressing the issues poised by his rhetoric. In prepared remarks delivered after the weekend’s shootings, Trump insisted that “the nation” must condemn white supremacy with “one voice,” although as one commentator noted, he didn’t even take an “active” voice and personally own the condemnation. The issue mirrors yet another one that emerged after a weekend of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, after white nationalists gathered and one from their ranks killed a counterprotester and wounded many others. Although in scripted remarks that Trump eventually got around to, Trump condemned white supremacy, before and after that he said that there were fine people on “both sides” of the incident, which has come back to haunt his administration numerous times since.
Featured Image via screenshot