On Monday, President Donald Trump condemned last weekend’s deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, as barbaric crimes “against all humanity” and called for bipartisan cooperation to respond to an epidemic of gun violence.
Trump spoke from the White House about shootings that left 31 dead and dozens wounded.
The president says he wants legislation providing “strong background checks” for gun users.
Trump also called on the country to “condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.”
His words ring hollow.
The president provided scant and vague details about what he would do about gun violence. Instead he offered vague suggestions of openness to new gun laws. His remarks were rightfully met with skepticism as he has reneged on previous promises after mass shootings.
His suggestion that a background check bill could be combined with his effort to toughen the nation’s immigration system makes no sense. How are these two issues connected? There is no rationale for the pairing. Studies have repeatedly shown immigrants have a lower level of criminality than those born in the U.S. Both shooting suspects were citizens, and federal officials are investigating anti-immigrant bias as a possible motive in the Texas massacre.
Instead of endorsing gun-control measures, Trump talked about treatment for mental health problems, depiction of violence in video games and hate speech on the internet.
Scientific studies have found no link between video games and violent behavior. Chris Ferguson, a psychology professor at Stetson University, told the New York Times that the evidence was clear that violent video games are not a risk factor for violence. “The data on bananas causing suicides is about as conclusive,” he said.
In Texas, the motive was hate. An online manifesto believed to be authored by the gunman in El Paso expresses hatred toward Mexican immigrants.
“Hate has no place in America,” Trump said in a 10-minute speech from the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room.
But of course, Trump did not mention how his anti-immigrant rhetoric and race-baiting has contributed to inspiring hate and violence in America.
How convincing is Trump’s condemnation of white nationalism when he is appealing to racism and xenophobia as a re-election strategy? How can the president have any credibility in speaking against racism when polls show that most Americans believe Trump’s actions and words encourage white supremacists?
By now it should be clear that the president has made the political calculus that appealing to raw racism is the key to his re-election.
Voters must send a clear and strong message that they have had enough by voting Trump among with his allies and enablers out of office in 2020.