Blaming Trump for shootings is not the answer

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There is a pile-on underway of President Donald Trump, because commentators have said that the statement believed to have been written by the alleged El Paso shooter mirrors language the President has used regarding illegal immigration. Democrats in Congress and the party’s presidential candidates are in full-blown attack mode against the President, trying to drive a narrative that he is responsible for mass shootings in America.

However, the narrative took a hit when CNN reported Monday night that a social media account that appears to have belonged to the Dayton shooter contained “extreme left-wing and anti-police posts, as well as tweets supporting Antifa, or anti-fascist, protesters.” It also featured a post saying, ‘Millenials [sic] have a message for the Joe Biden generation: hurry up and die.'” The account retweeted messages that were in support of Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, Democratic presidential candidates.

Police in Dayton say race doesn’t appear to be a motive in the shooting that left nine people dead, although if the social media account is indeed his, the personal politics of this shooter are pretty clear. What’s more, the poster to this account clearly has no trouble making a hostile statement about former Vice President Biden and other older politicians. The shooter appears not to be a white nationalist, but rather a full blown, pro-Antifa socialist. Was his attack influenced by these political views? We don’t know that yet.

But here’s the thing — it doesn’t matter, because it is no fairer to blame Elizabeth Warren or the socialist wing of the Democratic Party for a supporter’s actions than it is to label President Trump as responsible for someone pulling a trigger in El Paso.

The President has made mistakes on race issues, most notably in his statements after the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one dead and nine injured. He has certainly used incendiary rhetoric to describe what he sees as an illegal immigration crisis in America.

And now he has a responsibility, as our President and the person who should comfort the nation in times of crisis, to continue making statements like the one he issued from the White House on Monday morning. “In one voice our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” he said. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated.” He should not deviate from that sentiment, nor should he allow himself to be baited into an unhelpful tit-for-tat with any political opponent.

But the rush to rage against Trump — and the predictive punditry that he will inevitably fail to unite the country — seems counterproductive to people who want a meaningful policy outcome.

All politicians have a responsibility to ratchet down their own rhetoric, and to ask their supporters to stand down as well. Case in point: protesters — presumably from the liberal left — captured on Facebook outside the Louisville, Kentucky home of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Sunday night shouting threatening and profanity-laced insults about McConnell, Chao and the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency.
One protestor suggested on video that McConnell should have broken his neck instead of his shoulder, which McConnell shattered collecting the newspaper from his porch Sunday morning. These same protestors had also put similarly vile signs in the hands of the children they dragged along with them, teaching the next generation of political activists to be as hateful and violent as they appear to be.
It is not comfortable to write about or risk glorifying the goon squad that appeared in McConnell’s yard, but it is important for everyone to see that the radical left’s harassment and calls for violence against conservative politicians is exactly the sort of thing that Democrats claim Trump himself has been doing to bring on El Paso. As a reminder, last year, anti-ICE protestors also cornered McConnell at a Louisville restaurant and shouted, “We know where you live, Mitch!” This week, they certainly proved they know where McConnell lives as they brought the threats of physical violence to his front yard.
Mind you, Kentucky is a state where another US Senator — Rand Paul — had lung surgery this past weekend as he continues to recover from a savage beating administered by his deranged neighbor. Paul was also present at the congressional baseball practice shooting where a Bernie Sanders supporter shot up several Republicans, and others, firing 70 rounds, most from an assault rifle.

Again, it isn’t Sen. Sanders’ fault. But you can’t have it both ways. You either decry violence and violent rhetoric, or you don’t. Liberals ought to take the same responsibility for their own, just as they demand the same from Trump.

I don’t blame Democratic politicians for the actions of their supporters in McConnell’s yard; I am reasonably sure most of them would not condone it, although several partisan commentators and the Twitter platform itself are fanning the flames by glorifying the #massacreMitch hashtag. The tag is ostensibly a criticism of McConnell’s position on guns, but there’s no question in my mind that some people mean it as a threat against McConnell.

I blame any politician who fails to demand his or her supporters stand down from accusations that portray political opponents’ rhetoric as an invitation to violence.

Finally, politicians should be salving our raw nerves during this vulnerable time in our country, and not agitating. But Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro does not seem to get this and is instead attempting to whip up anger against people in the San Antonio area who have donated to Trump’s presidential campaign by tweeting out their names, saying that they are fueling a “campaign of hate.” I agree with David Mastio of USA Today — this is a “dangerous escalation” at a time when our nation needs messages of calm and reflection from the leaders of our two parties.

Yes, President Trump needs to stay on message, and not have any erratic moments the way he did after Charlottesville. And liberal politicians must demand their activists cease the violent rhetoric aimed at McConnell and others, and not add to it themselves the way Castro has.

Only then can the nation heal. Only then can our leaders have the space they need to find a solution to the mass shooting crisis. The sweet spot of solution exists — we can find it as long as the politicians let us.





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