At a Trump campaign rally in Panama Beach, FL last night, an attendee shouted “shoot them!” after President Trump railed against immigrants and refugees and said the government was unable to violently attack immigrants. Instead of stunned silence, the crowd and President Trump seemed to laugh in appreciation, weighing in only to say, “only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement!” (see video of the exchange here).
The following is a reaction from Pili Tobar, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:
This is horrifying but not surprising. Just because Trump’s reaction is by this point predictable and normalized, doesn’t diminish how disturbing it is that the President of the United States is failing to forcefully denounce violence and vigilantism while he cultivates a climate of fear and inhumanity about immigrants and refugees. Instead, Trump is laughing along with the supposed joke and giving a ‘wink wink’ tacit approval of such actions.
But of course, none of this is a joke, and we’ve seen the consequences play out before: white nationalist border vigilantes are detaining women and children at gunpoint, while Trump depicts those arriving as “tough” UFC fighters; the horrifying shootings at a Pittsburgh synagogue motivated in part by Trump’s migrant caravan fear-mongering; the violence and presidential equivocation in Charlottesville and Trump’s failure to clear the low bar of denouncing white supremacy. There is power behind words, and the words Trump uses have real consequences, sadly instead of appealing to our better angels as every other modern president would do, Trump prefers to stoke fear and divisiveness in a dangerous manner with no regard for what that may cause. It is no wonder that our country is more divided than ever.