Mass Shootings? Spare Us the Perfunctory Prayers

August 4th, 2020 - by Mark Karline / Buzzflash
Mass-killer — and Trump supporter — Patrick Crusius.

It Was Trump Who Weaponized the El Paso Mass Murderer and the One in Gilroy

Mark Karline / Buzzflash

 (August 4, 2020) — Prayers won’t end massacres like the one in El Paso.

The shooter who slaughtered at least 20 people and wounded more than 25 was apparently a Trump-loving anti-immigrant white nationalist. Patrick Crusius posted on 8Chan, a ghoulish message board on the Internet where the debris of troubled men in hate groups lurk and reinforce their vitriol toward non-whites, Jews and women. Crusius had allegedly written a virulent manifesto that expounded on the themes that Trump brings to a full boil in his followers.

The Republican governor of Texas tweeted the perfunctory cowardly and evasive “call for prayers” in response to a toxic cocktail of deadly firepower and white nationalism, as Trump cynically tweeted “God be with you all!” and “sent” his prayers. Meanwhile, another mass gun shooting occurred in Dayton, Ohio, within 24 hours.

Pete Buttigieg addressed the deadly threat of “grevance” hate killings in the age of Trump: “America is under attack from homegrown white nationalist terrorism,” he said at a labor-union forum on Saturday. “White nationalism is evil. And it is inspiring people to commit murder, and it is being condoned at the highest levels of the American government, and that has to end.”

Beto O’Rourke also targeted the heart of the nightmare plaguing us:

There was a link between Trump’s hostile comments about Muslims, migrants and people of color to a rise in hate crimes, O’Rourke told CNN after cutting short campaigning in Nevada to return to El Paso, his hometown and a city he represented for six years in Congress.

Asked if the shooting was Trump’s fault for inflaming hatred, he said “yes”.

“We’ve had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years during an administration where you have a president who has called Mexicans rapists and criminals, though Mexican immigrants commit crimes at a far lower rate than people born in this country.

Before his deadly rampage, Patrick Crusius posted the followinp photo online with the message: “I’m extremely proud to call Trump my President!

Called “An Inconvenient Truth,” the alleged Patrick Crusius manifesto begins:

In general, I support the Christchurch [New Zealand] shooter and his manifesto. This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion. Some people will think this statement is hypocritical because of the nearly complete ethnic and cultural destruction brought to the Native Americans by our European ancestors, but this just reinforces my point.

The natives didn’t take the invasion of Europeans seriously, and now what’s left is just a shadow of what was. My motives for this attack are not at all personal. Actually the Hispanic community was not my target before I read The Great Replacement. This manifesto will cover the political and economic reasons behind the attack, my gear, my expectations of what response this will generate and my personal motivations and thoughts.

Donald Trump with his appalling treatment of migrants in dire need of safety and employment, his references to the immigrants as an “infestation,” his early campaign incendiary allegation that many of those crossing the border are rapists, his indirect and direct appeal to white nationalism, his support of the alt-right even after one of them killed a young woman in Charlottesville, his racist and xenophobic attack on Ilhan Omar, on “The Squad” and Elijah Cummings as people who are unworthy of being considered “American” his sneering and smirking at people of color, his outright racist remarks, his assertion that the US is being overrun by brown people who are filthy and detestable, his use of language that implies non-whites are of an inferior race and are “vermin” — all this and more are incitements to the Patrick Casisus’s of the US, men caught in there own dark world of grievance and hate. This is what weaponized the mass shooting in El Paso.

It is what also weaponized the shooter just a few days ago in Gilroy, California. Santino Williams Legan, who was shot dead by police, had a stash of white supremacist material in his home. According to SFGate:

An Instagram account purportedly belonging to the shooter also referenced white supremacist ideology, recommending “Might is Right” by Ragnar Redbeard.

Written under a pseudonym in the late 1800s, the book is a defense of Anglo-Saxon and male supremacy, and argues that weakness shows moral inferiority. It is also full of anti-Semitic rhetoric.

“It’s widely popular and present among ethnocentric white nationalists of all levels, from suit-and-tie white supremacists to neo-Nazis,” Keegan Hankes, a senior analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s intelligence project, told Rolling Stone.

It is difficult to recall all the violence and attacks on non-whites that have occurred as Trump has ratcheted up his rhetoric to full blown evocation of a white Christian “race” under siege.

The New York Times reported in November of 2018:

Hate crime reports increased 17 percent last year from 2016, the F.B.I. said on Tuesday, rising for the third consecutive year as heated racial rhetoric and actions have come to dominate the news.

Of the more than 7,100 hate crimes reported last year, nearly three out of five were motivated by race and ethnicity, according to the annual report. Religion and sexual orientation were the other two primary motivators.

No one for a moment should believe this is a coincidence.

In July 23 testimony to Congress, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that domestic violence had increased in the first six months of this year:

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray told lawmakers Tuesday that the bureau has recorded about 100 arrests of domestic terrorism suspects in the past nine months and that most investigations of that kind involve some form of white supremacy….

Wray pointed to several recent high-profile arrests, including that of Coast Guard Lt. Christopher P. Hasson, who prosecutors have alleged is a white nationalist who stockpiled weapons in a plot to target journalists and politicians, and the men accused in mass shootings at synagogues in California and Pennsylvania.

Pipe-bomber Cesar Sayoc targeted Democrats and drove around in a van covered with pro-Trump hate posters.

Wray could have added to that list Cesar Sayoc, who was convicted in April of sending pipe bombs to Democratic officials, the media (“the enemy of the people,” Trump exhorts his followers) and Dem donors.

According to CNN (a target of Sayoc’s pipe bombs), Sayoc pleaded guilty but, “In the handwritten letter filed Tuesday [in April] in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, he told a judge that ‘the first thing you here [sic] entering [a] Trump rally is we are not going to take it anymore, the forgotten ones, etc.’”

The headline of the CNN article reads: “Pipe bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc describes Trump rallies as ‘new found drug'”.”

So damn the politicians who are now calling for prayers and a media that will go through its normal cycle of covering mass shootings and then forgetting about them as soon as Trump distracts them with another outrageous tweet or incendiary statement.

The guns aren’t weaponizing the likes of Patrick Crusius, Donald J. Trump is. Yes, it’s long past the time that aggrieved white males got over their fixation with guns.and rage. What is happening in the US today is that those white males stewing in a broth of virulent hate feel enabled to lash out with lethal consequences by the president of the United States.

It is fitting that Crusius allegedly had this photo posted on his now deleted Twitter account:

Yes, let’s definitely ban assault weapons, if you can pry them away from “the cold dead hands” of the gun lobby. However, to eliminate the enabling force behind blood baths such as the one at an El Paso Walmart, Donald J. Trump needs to be held accountable as an accessory to murder.

Message to the Mainstream Media: Stop Normalizing Trump’s Behavior. He Is a Racist, Liar and Instigator of Violence. Full Stop.

Mark Karlin / Buzzflash

(August 7, 2019) — In an August 6 morning email news roundup, CNN’s Brian Stelter discussed how the media often normalizes Trump’s racism, white nationalism and incitement of hatred toward non-whites. He did it by offering criticism of America’s “paper of record,” The New York Times:

Did you feel like some members of the media were straining to treat Trump as a “normal” president on Monday, after his ten-minute address about the mass murders? I heard from numerous Trump detractors who felt the coverage was ridiculous.

This came to a head on Monday night when the first edition of the NYT‘s Tuesday morning front page came out. The main headline said “TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM,” and it was savaged. Beto O’Rourke called the headline “unbelievable.” Olivia Nuzzi said “the president’s speech writers should not be dictating our headlines.”

Former Obama aide Ben Rhodes tweeted that “this consistent framing on Trump’s terms / trying to cover him as a normal US President is hugely beneficial to him.”
The second edition had an updated main headline — “ASSAILING HATE BUT NOT GUNS” — but it was also criticized right away. George Conway called it “strike two…”

A HuffPost article noted that some outraged Twitter users were threatening to cancel their subscriptions. Why? Because the NYT did exactly what I predicted in a commentary on Monday, report Trump’s false narrative to deny his accountability rather than report the facts.

The headline of the August 5 BuzzFlash commentary is, “Mainstream Media Should Not Let Trump Off the Hook for His Incitement of White Christian Nationalist Violence and Massacres, But It Will.” The HuffPost noted how derelict the NYT was in its large headline — “TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM — that spanned more than half of the top of the front page. The HuffPost countered, “While Trump on Monday denounced hate and white supremacy, he failed to acknowledge his own long history of hateful and racist rhetoric.”

I documented much of Trump’s vile, inciting, hateful and at times encouragement of violence — with a wink and a nod — in a Sunday BuzzFlash commentary, “Spare Us the Perfunctory Prayers, It Was Trump Who Weaponized the El Paso Mass Murderer and the One in Gilroy.” There is no room for debate here: Trump’s enabling white Christian nationalist behavior is almost a daily occurrence. For the NYT to amplify Trump’s counterfeit claim to seek unity and battle racism is gross journalist negligence.

Yes, some news outlets, such as the HuffPost, BuzzFlash, and a few of the cable station host and commentaters have called out Trump on his phony denial of his divisive and incendiary role in igniting “grievance” whites to fear non-whites, particularly his repeated alarmist charge of an “invasion” from Central America and Mexico. MSNBC’s Chis Hayes, for example, is one of the cable commentators who sees that the empire wears no clothes.

According to MEDIAite, “Chris Hayes blasts ‘well of evil’ that fuels Trump’s ‘dark sorcery of racial hatred.’” On Monday night, Rachel Maddow and some of her colleagues called out Trump’s “well of evil” in segments such as, “Trump ignores elephant in the room: his own racist rhetoric. ”Trump ignores elephant in the room: his own racist rhetoric.”

If you want to read the case for the factual assertion that Trump is racist and a Goebbel’s style propagandist who calls non-whites vermin, rats and rapists, read my Sunday commentary. His damning television appearances, his tweets and his policies are all on the record.

Other print publications were more subtle in amplifying Trump’s disingenuous messaging and not frontally reputing his easily refutable claim to be leading the nation toward unity and against racism. Even the progressive The Guardian headlined its story on Trump’s performance: “Trump blames ‘glorification of violence’ but not guns after mass shootings. President identifies video games, the Internet and mental illness but makes no mention of new restrictions on firearms.”

Obviously gun control is an important issue in firearms deaths in the US, and arises like clockwork — without any progress because of the opposition of Trump, McConnell and most of the NRA-linked (campaign contributions) GOP. The Guardian’s framing of the shooting sprees leaves out Trump’s racist rhetoric as the most compelling issue to take away from the El Paso shooting and others that have preceded it by white Christian nationalists. The Guardian does offer some strong criticism of Trump in its article, but only coming from the mouths of Democrats. The paper didn’t call Trump to account for his role in the carnage, but rather accepted his binary framing of gun violence as an issue that must balance “mental illness” vs. gun control.

A column in the Daily Kos focused on how much of the media was overlooking the fact that the El Paso shooting was a hate crime directed at people Trump calls “invaders” and an “infestation”:

But the Los Angeles Times’ own Esmeralda Bermudez… listed a slew of other newspaper covers on which Latinos and their voices were largely erased. “Reading headlines across the US today you wouldn’t know that one of the deadliest hate crimes against Latinos happened 3 days ago,” the journalist tweeted. “You wouldn’t see victims faces or get any hint of how Latinos feel.”

She points out that papers did breathlessly cover Trump’s scripted remarks, even though everyone knows he’ll be back to chuckling over shooting asylum-seekers in no time. Rather than the media continuing to waste airtime on noted liars who literally have nothing to contribute but Hatch Act violations, such as Kellyanne Conway, it should give that space to Latino leaders such as Rep. Veronica Escobar and former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, who have been among the voices pointing out Trump’s ties to white supremacist violence.

What much of the press is doing is what it has been doing during Trump’s administration and the campaign preceding it, normalizing dangerously toxic behavior. Trump understands how to manipulate the media, and that they are generally willing megaphones for whatever his message of the day is. He knows that most of the media will not factually contradict him, or if they do not for long.

News cycles, in the age of Twitter, Facebook, and cable news, grow increasingly shorter and ahistorical with each passing day. Moreover, as Trump has said on several occasions, much of the corporate media is appreciative of how Trump pumps up the audience for news, bringing in more profits from ads.

In February of 2018, I wrote a commentary entitled, “Trump Knows the Corporate Media Literally Profits From His Presidency as a Chaotic Spectacle and Daily Shock. They Hang on His Every Tweet and Interview Inanity.” This passivity of the press, which has a sadomasochistic relationship with being repeatedly called “fake news,” is threatening our safety and democracy. Journalism needs to return to applying the facts to what it reports.

Otherwise, Trump will continue to reign supreme by employing the big lie that so many journalists — particularly most White House reporters —write up as if it they were taking stenography, not ferreting out the truth.

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