The former DHS Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism and Threat Prevention, Elizabeth Neumann, had this to say about the connection between Trump’s racist rhetoric and the permission it gives to his more rabid followers:
“Things like ‘there are good people on both sides,’ or ‘send them back to where they came from,’ those words gave permission to white supremacists to think that what they were doing was permissible. And I do think that the president’s divisive language is indirectly tied to some of the attacks that we have seen the past two years.”
Meanwhile, during his speech last night, Vice President Mike Pence said that the choice in this election is “whether America will remain America.” Earlier in the week, Donald Trump Jr. said, “People of faith are under attack. You’re not allowed to go to church, but mass chaos in the streets gets a pass.” In his speech, conservative Charlie Kirk called Trump “the bodyguard of western civilization.”
Subtle they are not.
On Tuesday night, a 17 year-old Trump rally-goer responded to the call for militia men to show up on the scene of the protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin with long rifles, and ended up killing two and wounding one.
We’ve seen this all before. Trump’s demonizing and dehumanizing rhetoric heats up; devotees respond to his incendiary talk by “taking action;” and innocent people are targeted and killed.
It happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, as a white supremacist drove into protestors and killed Heather Heyer. It happened when Trump’s caravans and criminals rhetoric inspired Floridian Cesar Sayoc to send pipe bombs to progressive and Democratic leaders. It happened when a gunman worked up about the widely-embraced rightwing conspiracy that Jews are replacing whites with immigrants walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed eleven people. It happened in El Paso when a gunman, having written an anti-immigrant manifesto that sounded like one of Trump’s rally speeches, drove eight hours to shoot at Brown people, killing 23 Mexican-Americans and Mexicans at a Walmart.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
There’s a direct through-line from Trump’s rhetoric and policies to the embrace of his divisiveness by the Trumpified GOP to acts of violence committed by white nationalists. The danger is so palpable and the racism so entrenched that professional athletes from multiple sports are staging wildcat strikes to express their outrage.
Trump doesn’t care. He wields racism, xenophobia and misogyny as weapons in his drive to maintain political power and accumulate wealth for his family and his cronies. This is the sum of his political strategy. It’s now become the political strategy of the Republican Party. Trump is the president of white voters in red states, and he is at war with blue states and Democrats, Black people and women, Latinos and Asian-Americans, cities and the mainstream media.
When Republicans say this election is about whether America remains America, they mean America belongs to white Christian conservatives and everyone else better get back or get lost. It’s a call to arms. Some of his followers take it literally.
Trump started his long descent into darkness when he got on that escalator in 2015 to announce his candidacy. He’s never stopped going down. As a result, the virus of hatred and venom that started with immigrants has spread. He dehumanizes immigrants and racial justice protesters; he refuses to condemn or take on right-wing terrorism; and when he calls for ‘law and order’ he means the laws apply only to them and not us, and order means submit to our rule, or else.
The choice is clear: an America in which some rule over the many in their own interests, or an America in which a multiracial majority rule in the interests of freedom, justice and equality for all of us.