Monday 19 August 2019

Jennifer Rubin: 'Trump gives inspiration to white nationalists, and those who support him are not just deplorable - they are dangerous'


Scene: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke at the site of the mass shooting where 20 people died at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Photo: REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
Scene: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke at the site of the mass shooting where 20 people died at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Photo: REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Jennifer Rubin

Former congressman Beto O'Rourke spoke for millions of Americans yesterday when asked on CNN: "Do you think President Trump is a white nationalist?"

O'Rourke: "Yes, I do."

Democratic presidential nomination candidate O'Rourke is a native of El Paso, Texas, one of two sites of mass murder in the past 24 hours. The alleged killer had regurgitated white nationalist bile and hatred of immigrants. If a Muslim preacher's words were repeated nearly verbatim by Islamic mass murderers, we'd consider him a threat to national security.

And yet, when venom drawn from President Donald Trump's vicious attacks on immigrants, his channelling of "replacement" conspiracy theories, his dehumanisation of immigrants and his demonisation of the media show up in the ramblings of serial mail bomber Cesar Sayoc, the Tree of Life synagogue and Christchurch mosque mass murderers and now the slaughterer of innocents in El Paso, we don't collectively hold him morally accountable, insist he recants and demand an end to his presidency.

Another Democratic candidate, Pete Buttigieg, warned yesterday that white nationalist terrorists "feel validated" by Trump.

For decades now, Republicans have insisted mass murders with semi-automatic weapons are not reflective of a gun problem. This ludicrous assertion is no longer remotely acceptable. But in one sense they are right: it's not merely Republicans' indulgence of the National Rifle Association that puts Americans' lives in jeopardy. It is the support and enabling of a president that inspires white nationalist terrorists - and even denies white nationalism is a problem.

The Dayton, Ohio, mass killing is the 32nd "mass killing by firearms" this year. And while Trump continues to demonise Muslims and foreigners, the facts indicate white nationalists are responsible for more deaths than Islamic fundamentalist-inspired killings under this president.

According to the Anti-Defamation League: "In 2018, domestic extremists killed at least 50 people in the US, a sharp increase from the 37 extremist-related murders documented in 2017, though still lower than the totals for 2015 (70) and 2016 (72). The 50 deaths make 2018 the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970.

"The extremist-related murders in 2018 were overwhelmingly linked to right-wing extremists. Every one of the perpetrators had ties to at least one right-wing extremist movement, although one had recently switched to supporting Islamist extremism."

The rise in hate crimes under this president also has been dramatic. The Anti-Defamation League says: "Right-wing extremists were linked to at least 50 extremist-related murders in the United States in 2018, making them responsible for more deaths than in any year since 1995. Right-wing extremists killed more people in 2018 than in any year since 1995."

Likewise, just a few days ago, a new report explained the magnitude of the problem in cities (which Trump demonises as "infested" and unliveable): hate crimes in 30 of America's largest cities rose 9pc in 2018 to a decade high of 2,009, according to police data analysed by the Centre for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino (CSHE). Last year marked the fifth consecutive increase in hate crimes, and the steepest rise since 2015. Seventy percent, or 21 police departments, reported increases, with just under half (47pc), or 14 agencies, hitting or tying decade highs. 2018 was the only year this decade the cities exceeded 2,000. Partial year 2019 data from 18 cities also shows an overall rise.

This rise comes even as the overall rate of crime decreases.

In sum, we are awash in hate crimes and white nationalist-inspired mass murders. We have a president whose words inspire and bolster perpetrators of these heinous acts. That makes Trump not only a moral abomination, which no policy outcome can offset, but a threat to national security. Those encouraged by his words in recent years kill more Americans than Islamist terrorists.

If that is not justification for bipartisan repudiation of this president and removal from office at the earliest possible moment I don't know what is. Those who support this president for his white-grievance mongering are not merely "deplorable" but dangerous.

(© Washington Post syndication)

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