Let’s start with President Donald Trump’s speech about the weekend’s gun massacres in which he offered up prayers “for those who perished in Toledo.” For the record, the mass shooting in Ohio took place in Dayton, not Toledo.
Given the zombielike energy he put into reading the scripted words on the White House teleprompter, it should not be surprising that Trump failed to catch this latest error made by his incompetent communications team. Of course, he is not a man who worries about the consequences of words, anyway, and this negligent gaffe is inconsequential compared to the stream of words he has spewed over the years to denigrate and demonize dark-skinned people, immigrants, refugees and foreigners.
For a long time, the fear has been that Trump’s careless, inflammatory rhetoric would lead to violence. Now it can be argued that, with the weekend’s other horrific attack in El Paso, Texas, that fear has been realized. The shooter who used an assault rifle to mow down Latino shoppers at a Wal-Mart preceded his terrorist rampage by posting an online manifesto in which he decried a Mexican “invasion” of the Lone Star state. The words he used echoed the sentiments of the president’s speeches and tweets.
In his screed, the murderer took pains to say he formed his viewpoints before Trump arrived on the scene and any suggestion that the president’s rhetoric was his inspiration would be “fake news.” Perhaps. But videotape does not lie. We have seen Trump stir up crowds with his provocative words over and over again, and we have seen him repeatedly fail to discourage the sometimes savagely xenophobic response of his followers.
Trump has made it abundantly clear he has no interest in being a president for all Americans. He demonizes those outside his political base and, in doing so, he has encouraged the worst demons among us.
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