By Aaron Klein – AUGUST 9, 2019
NEW YORK — In separate articles on the same day, the New York Times and Washington Post each seemingly parroted the same talking points 11 times in respective articles in their zest to baselessly connect President Trump’s rhetoric and policies to an unhinged manifesto attributed to the 21-year-old accused of murdering 22 people in cold blood and injuring dozens when he opened fire in a Walmart in El Paso.
The manifesto is clearly the work of a demented mind and expressed views that are all over the map, yet both newspapers selectively cited the document to divine the El Paso shooter’s alleged motives and link the mass murder to Trump.
Earlier this week, this reporter documented the manifesto attributed to shooting suspect Patrick Wood Crusius actually shows that the author did not have a coherent political viewpoint. While the text contains racist language targeting the Hispanic community, it also evidences hatred toward what the writer labeled “average Americans” and calls for a decrease in the general American population.
Missing from much of the news media coverage is that the manifesto promotes far-left policy prescriptions including universal healthcare and a socialist-style “universal income.” Perhaps the two main themes of the document are actually anti-corporatist and eco-extremist sentiment and the shooter repeatedly labeled both Republicans and Democrats as sellouts to corporations on a host of issues.
Still, two widely cited front-page articles, both published on August 4, were printed by the New York Times and Washington Post respectively in an attempt to link Trump’s rhetoric to the shooting.
Regardless of the El Paso shooter’s motivations, Trump throughout his presidency has stoked fear and hatred of the other, whether Latino immigrants or black people living in cities or Muslims.
Although he has not directly espoused the “great replacement” theory of white supremacists, Trump has openly questioned America’s identity as a multiethnic nation, such as by encouraging migration from Nordic states as opposed to Latin America.
4 – Times:
While other leaders have expressed concern about border security and the costs of illegal immigration, Mr. Trump has filled his public speeches and Twitter feed with sometimes false, fear-stoking language even as he welcomed to the White House a corps of hard-liners, demonizers and conspiracy theorists shunned by past presidents of both parties. Because of this, Mr. Trump is ill equipped to provide the kind of unifying, healing force that other presidents projected in times of national tragedy.
In speeches and on social media, the president has capitalized on divisions of race, religion and identity as a political strategy to galvanize support among his white followers.
After yet another mass slaying, the question surrounding the president is no longer whether he will respond as other presidents once did, but whether his words contributed to the carnage.
5 – Times:
“Hate has no place in our country, and we’re going to take care of it,” the president said, declining to elaborate but promising to speak more on Monday morning. He made no mention of white supremacy or the El Paso manifesto, but instead focused on what he called “a mental illness problem.
“Hate has no place in our country, and we’re going to take care of it,” Trump said in Morristown, N.J., just before flying home to Washington. He did not respond to questions from reporters about the El Paso shooter’s manifesto but said generally that “this has been going on for years” and acknowledged that “perhaps more has to be done.”
6 – Times:
Democratic presidential candidates wasted little time on Sunday pointing the finger at Mr. Trump, arguing that he had encouraged extremism with what they called hateful language. Mr. Trump’s advisers and allies rejected that, arguing that the president’s political foes were exploiting a tragedy to further their political ambitions.
“I’m saying that President Trump has a lot to do with what happened in El Paso yesterday,” Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic presidential candidate who represented El Paso in Congress, said on “Face the Nation” on CBS. Mr. O’Rourke said Mr. Trump “sows the kind of fear, the kind of reaction that we saw in El Paso yesterday.”
Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said it was outrageous to hold Mr. Trump responsible for the acts of a madman or suggest the president sympathized with white supremacists.
“I don’t think it’s at all fair to sit here and say that he doesn’t think that white nationalism is bad for the nation,” he said on “This Week” on ABC. “These are sick people. You cannot be a white supremacist and be normal in the head. These are sick people. You know it, I know it, the president knows it. And this type of thing has to stop. And we have to figure out a way to fix the problem, not figure out a way to lay blame.”
But some Democratic leaders on Sunday said Trump’s demagoguery makes him plainly culpable.
Beto O’Rourke, a former congressman from El Paso running for president, said it was appropriate to label Trump a white nationalist and said his rhetoric is reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
“He doesn’t just tolerate it; he encourages it, calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, warning of an invasion at our border, seeking to ban all people of one religion. Folks are responding to this,” O’Rourke said on CNN. He added, “He is saying that some people are inherently defective or dangerous, reminiscent of something that you might hear in the Third Reich, not something that you expect in the United States of America.”
Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, flatly dismissed the suggestion that Trump was to blame.
“Goodness gracious, is someone really blaming the president? People are sick,” Mulvaney said on NBC. He pointed to the manifesto, adding, “If you do read that, you can see him say that he’s felt this way for a long time, from even before President Trump got elected.”
Mulvaney acknowledged that “some people don’t approve of the verbiage that the president uses,” but he argued: “People are going to hear what they want to hear. My guess is this guy’s in that parking lot out in El Paso, Texas, in that Walmart doing this even if Hillary Clinton is president.”
7 – Times:
Linking political speech, however heated, to the specific acts of ruthless mass killers is a fraught exercise, but experts on political communication said national leaders could shape an environment with their words and deeds, and bore a special responsibility to avoid inflaming individuals or groups, however unintentionally.
“The people who carry out these attacks are already violent and hateful people,” said Nathan P. Kalmoe, an assistant professor at Louisiana State University who has studied hate speech. “But top political leaders and partisan media figures encourage extremism when they endorse white supremacist ideas and play with violent language. Having the most powerful person on Earth echo their hateful views may even give extremists a sense of impunity.”
This has come up repeatedly during Mr. Trump’s presidency, whether it be the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, Va., or the bomber who sent explosives to Mr. Trump’s political adversaries and prominent news media figures or the gunman who stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue after ranting online about “invaders” to the United States.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor of history at New York University and expert on authoritarianism, said Trump has been strategic.
“This is a concerted attempt to construct and legitimize an ideology of hatred against nonwhite people and the idea that whites will be replaced by others,” she said. “When you have a racist in power who incites violence through his speeches, his tweets, and you add in this volatile situation of very laxly regulated arms, this is uncharted territory.”
8 – Times:
David Livingstone Smith, a philosophy professor at the University of New England and the author of a book on dehumanization of whole categories of people, said Mr. Trump had emboldened Americans whose views were seen as unacceptable in everyday society not long ago.
“This has always been part of American life,” he said. “But Trump has given people permission to say what they think. And that’s crack cocaine. That’s powerful. When someone allows you to be authentic, that’s a very, very potent thing. People have come out of the shadows.”
Leonard Zeskind, author of “Blood and Politics,” a history of the white nationalist movement, said the ugliest phenomena often develop in countries when there is a vacuum of moral leadership. Zeskind explained that white nationalism is autonomous from any political formation, but that Trump energizes its followers.
“He gives it voice. He’s their megaphone,” Zeskind said. He added, “Donald Trump, dumping on immigrants all the time, creates an atmosphere where some people interpret that to be an okay sign for violence against immigrants.”
9 – Times:
He denounces immigrant gang members as “animals” and complains that unauthorized migrants “pour into and infest” the United States.
President Trump has relentlessly used his bully pulpit to decry Latino migration as “an invasion of our country.” He has demonized undocumented immigrants as “thugs” and “animals.”
10 – Times:
Illegal immigration is a “monstrosity,” he says, while demanding that even American-born congresswomen of color “go back” to their home countries.
Last month he attacked four congresswomen of color and said they should “go back” to the countries they came from, even though three were born in the United States and all four are U.S. citizens.
11 – Times:
At a Florida rally in May, the president asked the crowd for ideas to block migrants from crossing the border.
“How do you stop these people?” he asked.
“Shoot them!” one man shouted.
The crowd laughed and Mr. Trump smiled. “That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that stuff,” he said. “Only in the Panhandle.
“How do you stop these people? You can’t,” Trump lamented at a May rally in Panama City Beach, Fla. Someone in the crowd yelled back one idea: “Shoot them.” The audience of thousands cheered and Trump smiled. Shrugging off the suggestion, he quipped, “Only in the Panhandle can you get away with that statement.”