The dust from the harrowing shootings in Ohio and Texas had barely settled before Democrats had proclaimed Trump “responsible” for the tragic events, pointing to what many have regarded as his racially-charged rhetoric of recent months — but was the concern sincere, or was it just some cheap electioneering rhetoric to gain political advantage in a time of crisis?
The former vice president, Joe Biden, was quick to accuse Trump of emboldening white nationalists by stoking “the flames of hatred” and coddling white supremacists, while California Senator Kamala Harris — who has accused Biden himself of supporting racist policies in the past — condemned Trump for using his microphone to sow “hate and division.”
Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke called on Americans to “connect the dots” on the hatred and racism that is “coming from the highest positions of power,” while Cory Booker said Trump was simply “responsible” for the El Paso shooting, citing the suspect’s manifesto which expressed hatred for immigrants.
The more progressive wing of the party also got in on the action, with Bernie Sanders calling on Americans to reject what he called the “growing culture of bigotry espoused by Trump and his allies,” while Elizabeth Warren did not mince her words, calling the president a “racist” who has “created plenty of space for hate.”
While it can certainly be argued that Trump’s sometimes inflammatory rhetoric could exacerbate social tensions, it seems Democrats would like voters to believe racial hatred in the US began with his election three years ago.
Yet, social discontent and mass shootings were a well-established facet of US life long before Trump came along. Given their frequency, one could surmise that these shootings are a symptom of problems in society that might go deeper than Trump’s Twitter antics — but not to Democrats.
With an election rolling around, it’s still all about Trump. The hashtag #WhiteSupremacistInChief was even trending on Twitter in the US on Monday.
This kind of thing can and does happen “under any president, for any reason and for [a] number of reasons,” human rights attorney Jennifer Breedon told RT. Those things can include “social media rhetoric, outrage, hate, dissention and partisan divide.”
Democrats and the media, Breedon said, tend to pick up stories about shootings if the motives fit the right narratives, while ignoring other instances of violence.
“If it’s white nationalists, they’re going to scream it from the top of the hills and the mountaintops because it fits with a certain narrative,” she said. “It’s being used for political issues rather than looking into factors that might mitigate or stop this kind of violence.”
On the other side, Republicans also used some of the same rehashed talking points that get aired in the wake of mass shootings, blaming things like violent video games, and arguing that more guns on the scene could have prevented the tragedies.
Trump himself also used the shootings in an attempt to further his own political agenda, suggesting on Twitter that Congress could “marry” new gun control laws with immigration reform, which he has been seeking.
Later, in a White House press conference, Trump called out the manufacturers of violent video games for adding to a culture that “celebrates violence.” He said said mental illness and hatred on social media causes “disturbed minds” to carry out mass shootings.
Yet, despite all the debates over potential causes and the calls to act, the problem never seems to go away, and real action is rarely taken.
It looks like Americans are going to face another long election cycle of false promises and self-serving rhetoric, with little to show for it at the end.