If there is one very important lesson to be learned from history, it is observing the power of words, and how different political figures can shape the world through the words they used to influence their followers. Presidents, Kings, Queens, Monarchs, Popes, Prime Ministers, Emperors, and even Dictators have all shaped their reputations and images through the words they spoke, and all had some understanding that the language they choose in their moments in time can create wars, peace, revolutions, political and civil rights movements, racial divides, or even murder. In the last week, our country witnessed three mass shootings in Gilroy, California, in Dayton, Ohio, and in El Paso, Texas. All three shooters were all able to obtain deadly, military-style firearms more easily than getting an abortion or a work visa in America. While the two tragedies in Gilroy and Dayton are horrific and we need to honor the memory of those lost, the shooting in El Paso is the key event that showcases who our President truly is.
Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old white nationalist and die-hard Trump supporter, wrote a manifesto addressing his hate for Mexicans and brown people, and how he wanted to kill as many of them as he could. He shot and killed more than twenty people and injured many more. When the FBI and police investigated Crusius’ Twitter profile and other social media pages, it was nothing but retweets of quotes from Donald Trump’s Twitter page, and every tweet that Crusius cherry-picked off of Trump’s page all had some form of the words “infest” or “invade”; Trump saying that undocumented immigrants from Mexico “infest” our country, or how they are “invading” America by coming here over the border and must be dealt with. Trump sparked so much hatred, fear and rage into this young man that it made him want to grab his guns and make his cult leader proud by killing as many Hispanics as he could to help “Make America Great Again!”.
Rather than take any responsibility for his violence-inducing, hateful speech against Hispanics over the last four years, Trump just claimed the shooter is a “lone wolf” who suffers from mental illness and could have been influenced by violent video games. For f***s sake, are we really going back to this again? What’s next…blaming Marilyn Manson again?
Ever notice how Trump’s solutions for crime prevention after a tragedy always depend entirely on the nationality of the culprit? If the shooter is Hispanic, Trump says, “Build the wall!” If the shooter is Muslim, Trump says, “We need a travel ban!” If the shooter is Black, Trump says, “More tough cops on the streets!” When the shooter is white, as it seems to be again and again, Trump just says, “Thoughts and prayers.”
At his last two rallies, Trump told four congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they came from, despite the fact that three of them were born in the United States, and all of them were raised here. His supporters cheered, “Send them back!” while Trump stood silently, not shutting them down or stopping the chants, which only showed that he is perfectly okay with it. When he was publicly criticized for not telling his crowd to knock off that kind of hateful, racist cheer, he simply replied, “They said it, not me!” He picked a fight with Black congressman Elijah Cummings and called his densely African-American city of Baltimore a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” At one of his rallies, Trump spoke about the different things American citizens (meaning his own base) can do to stop migrants from coming to America, and one of his supporters shouted “Shoot them!”, to which Trump laughed and responded by saying, “Only in the panhandle can you get away with saying that!”
After the tragedy in Charlottesville, Trump took days to pretend to denounce racism and bigotry, and even then, he did not fully commit to disowning his racist, white-nationalist followers because he knows they love him. Any time Trump is pushed (and I do mean forcefully pushed) into giving a speech denouncing hate and racism, it comes off so fake and rehearsed, not a drop of passion or sincerity is involved, and it looks as though he is trying to contain himself from laughing with the smirk he gives when talking about how bad racism and white nationalism is. It’s not a coincidence that hate crimes and hate-rallies among white nationalists and KKK members have skyrocketed since Trump became President.
Let’s not forget that this is the same “President” who publicly gave out a list of people he hated at a rally back in October 2018, calling them dangerous, unpatriotic and evil; and once again claimed that journalists are the “enemy of the people”, and within days, one of his maniac supporters, a Florida man named Cesar Soyak, mailed sixteen pipe bombs to the homes of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Joe Biden, George Soros, John Brennan, Maxine Waters, Elizabeth Warren, Barack and Michelle Obama, Kamala Harris, CNN headquarters, and everyone else Trump named on his “enemies list.” After Soyak was detained and bomb squads retrieved all sixteen bombs, his home and car were raided and the police found countless Trump merchandise scattered everywhere, from posters of Trump as a god-like figure, to “Make America Great Again” written all over his walls, and even stickers on his car of Democrats like Michael Moore and Hillary Clinton with red sniper rifle targets on their foreheads. The man was obsessed with Trump and said he believed his critics were “dangerous, unpatriotic and evil!”
Hmm, why does that sound so familiar…?
When Trump got word of the news, rather than denounce this act of terrorism and evil, he went on television and did his best to distance himself from Soyak, claiming, “I heard he ‘preferred me’ over others,” and whined about how that man slowed down the Republican Party’s momentum in the midterms.
The brilliant and very well-respected historian Doris Kearns Goodwin went on television after this attempted assassination of prominent Democrats and said of Trump, “Empathy is the most important characteristic and it’s what’s missing in the current President/…/This man has no humility which is an important part of every President. He has no empathy, he has no resilience, he says the reason he is so humble is because the pope is ‘very humble just like Donald Trump.’ You can’t be a person who says the most important thing is never to lose, that you always have to win.” She then went on to give an interview with Bill Maher about how Trump’s words will continue to lead to violence until he is out of office, and even then it may get worse if he loses the 2020 election and claims, once again, that the system was “rigged.”
A good leader has empathy, compassion, dignity, honesty, humility, intelligence and courage. Trump has none of these qualities.
Any time a horrific shooting happens, the first thing Conservatives and gun-lovers say is “It’s too soon to talk about this tragedy!” When really what they mean to say is, “We know we have much responsibility for these violent shootings because we are the pro-gun party, but we have no logical arguments to defend ourselves, so we just want to prevent the conversation altogether.” By that logic, my question to Conservatives and the NRA would be “Can we address the Vegas massacre now? Or the Pulse Nightclub shooting? Has enough time passed to talk about those?” What’s that…those are in the past so we should focus on things happening today…but not if they just happened?
If people get gunned down in the streets or at popular venues and children are being slaughtered in schools and your first thought is “Don’t take my guns away!” instead of “What can we do to stop this?” then we don’t have a difference in politics, we have a difference in morality.
At Trump rallies today, merchandise booths sell t-shirts that say: “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required,” and have a picture of a noose hanging from a tree on the back. You voters who enable Republicans controlled by the NRA and who shamelessly support Trump just never seem to catch up with the rest of the world how dangerous he and outdated conservative ideas truly are. You look the other way when he does something racist or sexist, then cheer for any tiny thing he does, from creating a single job to bringing in $1 from NATO, as if those things erase the chalkboard of his decades of hateful bigotry. Republican voters who defend Trump have proven for four years now that they will never, ever…EVER hold Trump accountable for anything he says or does. Their egos won’t allow it. They refuse to believe that they have been wrong all this time and that the people who they cannot stand, the Liberals, were right all along that no, he will never shape up and be presidential, he will never grow up and mature, and that yes, Donald Trump is a flat-out racist and a deadly cancer to this country and the world. If you truly do not see Trump’s dangerous rhetoric as the perpetrator of these shootings, then you are part of the problem.
If this was anyone else not named Donald Trump, you would have abandoned him or her a long time ago and called them a lunatic. Why do you still stand by him? Is it because he’s a Republican like you? A racist like you? A xenophobic white nationalist like you? This is why people roll their eyes when you say you like Trump for the insignificant one or two things that he has done that didn’t result in catastrophe; when you embarrass yourself trying to justify your continued support for him by saying, “Well at least he’s getting NATO to pay their fair share,” or “He’s in charge of a booming economy,” (which he got from Obama and just didn’t touch anything while that ship was already sailing smoothly in the first place).
Michael Moore said it best after Charlottesville when he said supporting Trump’s words and actions is the same as being the friend who holds down a woman while your friend rapes her. You are not doing the raping, your friend is, but you are just as responsible for holding her down while he does it. Every time Trump bashes a minority group or an individual, that group or person is threatened, bullied or even killed by his supporters. It’s time to face facts, Trump supporters, either you are a violent racist, or you just refuse to condemn, and therefore enable, violence and racism. There is no grey area.
About the Author:
Brian Moniz is from San Jose, Calif. He studied filmmaking and writing at San Jose State University from 2010–2013 and got his bachelor’s degree in Radio-TV-Film. Throughout his high school and college years, he worked as a music and movie journalist and critic. Having only recently come out of the closet himself in 2014, Brian enjoys writing about LGBTQ issues. His only regret when it comes to his sexuality is that he didn’t come out sooner.