Donald Trump has done a lot of terrible things. He conspired with a foreign country to interfere with a US election. He lied about his obstruction of justice, and encouraged his staff to lie. All of these things are what the Constitution calls “high crimes and misdemeanors” – grounds, more than half the Democrats in Congress now agree, to begin the process of impeachment.
But the worst thing he’s done is encourage racism, hatred of immigrants – and quite likely multiple instances of mass murder.
The diatribe that the El Paso killer apparently posted online before opening fire in a mall, killing 20 people, could have come right out of the Trump political playbook. The killer talks about Mexicans invading the country – and even says they could make Texas a Democratic state.
Yes, you have heard that before. From the White House.
Beto O’Rourke, who once represented El Paso, has it right:
Trump “is a racist and he stokes racism in this country,” O’Rourke told reporters on Saturday after meeting with victims and doctors. “And it does not just offend our sensibilities, it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence. Again, there are still details that we are waiting on, but I’m just following the lead that I’ve heard from the El Paso police department where they say there are strong indications that this shooter wrote that manifesto and this was inspired by his hatred of people here in this community.”
O’Rourke doubled down on Sunday, telling ABC News that Trump “doesn’t just tolerate, he encourages the kind of open racism.”
And combined with gun culture – which the president also supports – you have a recipe for white supremacist domestic terrorism.
It’s no surprise that hate crimes have gone up 226 percent in places where Trump has held rallies.
The Democrats have called, once again, for stricter gun controls, and have called out the NRA and the Republicans that do whatever that lobby asks. (The NRA was thrilled that Texas loosened gun laws this year.) And the governor of Texas thinks the rash of white supremacist shootings are due to video games.
Maybe, possibly, if the Democrats retake the Senate and the White House next year, some steps toward a sane gun policy might be possible. The House has already passed a pretty sweeping bill,but Sen. Mitch McConnell won’t allow it to come to the Senate for a vote. Considering that there are almost certainly more than 10 million assault rifles currently in private hands in the United States, and nobody tracks them very well, banning new sales of these military tools that have no purpose other than murdering people won’t end their use.
But when the leader of the country says that it’s just fine – encouraged, actually – to hate people who are not white and to want to get rid of immigrants, I fear this type of violence is just going to get worse.