Twenty people are dead after a mass shooting in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart, and that’s a tragedy beyond words. What’s even more tragic are that the sick, racist beliefs that allegedly inspired the shooter — I won’t justify him by even mentioning his name — have gotten airtime thanks to this senseless act of violence.
What’s also tragic is the politicization of the shooting. This is hardly surprising, though. I’ve learned that there’s no act of mass violence that cannot and will not be immediately politicized, particularly when certain kinds of guns are involved.
However, I held out a flicker of hope this could be a moment where we could all come together — Republican, Democrat, independent, whatever — and condemn the nihilistic, racist philosophy of white nationalism that inspired this alleged shooter without blaming anyone but the shooter himself.
But, no. There were plenty of liberals trying to pin the white nationalist tail on President Donald Trump, accusing him of some sort of complicity in this vile act. One politician, in particular, stood out in his shamelessness: El Paso’s most famous political son, Robert “Beto” O’Rourke.
O’Rourke is a candidate for president, something you may have forgotten given his poll numbers. There’s always the tendency, when one’s poll numbers dip low enough, to engage in cultural ambulance-chasing. That’s always reprehensible enough. To do that kind of ambulance-chasing in the aftermath of one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history — and to blame the president of the United States for it — is a kind of shamelessness that’s difficult to even comprehend.
Take, for instance, this interview with KVIA-TV in which O’Rourke said the president created the atmosphere in which a crime like this could occur:
#BREAKING I just asked @BetoORourke if @realDonaldTrump is at all responsible for today’s mass shooting in #ElPaso He said yes and added that in his opinion, the President is indeed a racist. @abc7breaking @ABC pic.twitter.com/wA3iB3uLFN
— Michael Gordon KVIA ABC-7 (@MichaelGordonTV) August 4, 2019
“We’ve had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years,” O’Rourke said, “during an administration in which you’ve had a president who’s called Mexicans rapists and criminals, though Mexican immigrants commit crimes at a far lower rate than those who are born here in the country.
“He has tried to make us afraid of them to some real effect and consequence. Attempting to ban all Muslims from this country. The day that he signed that executive order, the mosque in Victoria, Texas, was burned to the ground.”
Never mind that almost every single thing O’Rourke said there was either misleading or wrong; it has nothing to do with the alleged shooter’s motives. We’ll discuss that in more depth later, but for right now, it’s simply worth noting O’Rourke’s conclusion: “[Trump] is a racist and he stokes racism in this country. And it does not just offend our sensibilities, it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence.”
On CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday, O’Rourke did the usual Democrat song-and-dance about how certain types of rifles should be banned and how offering “thoughts and prayers” is somehow problematic. However, he again made the case that the president ought to be held responsible for the shooting.
O’Rourke told host Major Garrett that he wanted “to ensure that we do everything that we can to guarantee that this does not happen again going forward. And it has to go well beyond thoughts and prayers and even beyond sensible gun legislation like universal background checks, like ending the sales of weapons of war.
“This is really about hatred and racism and intolerance that continues to grow in this country,” he continued. “Hate crime is on the rise for each of the last three years, division being sown by this president’s hatred being welcomed during his administration. All of us must stand up against this and for a much better, a much safer country.”
“Are you saying President Trump is indirectly responsible for this?” Garrett asked.
“I’m saying that President Trump has a lot to do with what happened in El Paso yesterday,” O’Rourke responded.
“Anybody who begins their campaign for the presidency by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. Anyone who as president describes asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border as an infestation or an invasion or animals (sic). Anyone who describes those who do not match the majority of this country as somehow inherently dangerous or defective, sows the kind of fear, the kind of reaction that we saw in El Paso yesterday.”
Again, I’d love to see the fact-checkers who are so keen on parsing Republican statements take a look at this, but that’s beyond the point. There’s zero evidence that Trump inspired a mentally ill man to go on a murderous rampage, no matter what you think about what he said.
In fact, when O’Rourke appeared on CNN, Jake Tapper pointed out that the alleged shooter’s manifesto specifically stated that he held his racist beliefs before Trump was elected. Beto’s halting response was to equate the president’s rhetoric with the Third Reich, because of course:
.@BetoORourke has been making the rounds blaming Trump for inciting the #ElPasoShooting. When confronted with the alleged shooter’s manifesto stating he held racist beliefs prior to Trump’s presidency, there’s a noticeable silence before O’Rourke continues blaming the president. pic.twitter.com/cHUoWMkNez
— Molly Prince (@mollyfprince) August 4, 2019
“I don’t know the point that you’re trying to make here, Jake, but it’s pretty obvious to me and anyone who’s listened to the president and will look at the facts that his anti-immigrant rhetoric — not just the things that I cited, but calling asylum-seekers ‘animals’ or an ‘infestation,'” O’Rourke said after a long pause.
“Now, you might describe a cockroach or termites as an infestation — something less than human. You might hear someone in the Third Reich describe a given people based on their characteristic as an infestation or subhuman, but that’s what the president of the United States is doing right now, and it’s not just with Mexican immigrants, conflating congresswoman Ilhan Omar with the terrorists from 9/11, encouraging that chanting in North Carolina of ‘send her back.'”
Except none of that had to do with the shooting, at least according to the alleged shooter. It’s beyond convenient how politicians are credulously willing to believe every part of a killer’s febrile manifesto except the parts that don’t fit their narrative.
During the CNN interview, O’Rourke also called Trump a “white nationalist.”
Jake Tapper: Do you think President Trump is a white nationalist?
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 4, 2019
I’m never quite sure what the term “white nationalist” means today because it seems to continually change based on who the liberal in question is applying it to. I can tell you that Merriam-Webster defines it as “one of a group of militant whites who espouse white supremacy and advocate enforced racial segregation.”
If this is your take on President Trump, there isn’t much I can do for you. The fact that there are multiple Democrats in the 2020 race who seem to believe the president fits this definition — or believe that the definition is fungible enough that it can include him — is beyond sad.
It’s a fool’s errand to try to deconstruct why this twisted individual killed 20 people in an El Paso Walmart. I could offer you my explanations, but they’d be meaningless — just as meaningless as Beto’s. The difference is that I’m not blaming any individual for what happened in El Paso other than the alleged shooter.
To blame the president of the United States for inspiring mass murder is a sick stunt. To blame the president of the United States for inspiring mass murder in order to increase one’s chances of becoming the next president of the United States is a stunt of almost sociopathic proportions, something that’s almost beyond words in its pathetic amorality.
Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s acting White House chief of staff, may have had the best response to this piffle, citing the 2017 attack on Republicans in Alexandria, Va., that almost killed Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise and the July attack by a leftist on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement center in Tacoma, Washington.
“[D]id anyone blame Bernie Sanders for the Congressional baseball game shooting? No, I don’t think so,” Mulvaney said on ABC’s “This Week.” “Did anyone blame Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for the gentleman, for the crazy guy who tried to blow up the DHS office in Washington state, taking I think a homemade bomb and an AR-15 to shoot up what he called a concentration camp, the exact same rhetoric that AOC was using? Did anybody blame her?”
No, and doing so would be beyond irresponsible. Let’s hope O’Rourke’s profoundly tasteless gambit finally means we can stop taking the campaign of a terminally unqualified and opportunistic charlatan seriously.
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