Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
The bodies in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton were still in the morgue when the progressive “carrion-picking crows” started politicizing the murders. But everything they said about gun control, “white nationalism,” and Trump’s culpability was based on lies and stale clichés recycled for political gain.
The argument that more gun control laws will lessen substantially such murders has been disproven with facts over and over. In the Nineties, gun homicides fell by half, even as the number of guns increased 56%. The reason has been obvious since Prohibition in the Twenties: if enough people want something, black markets and criminal gangs will exist to get it for them. We’ve spent about a trillion dollars on reducing the availability of drugs, yet any savvy teenager in America can get just about any drug in less than a day. Likewise, someone bent on mayhem can circumvent the most stringent gun control laws. Just look at the crime rate in Democrat-controlled cities like Chicago, D.C., or Baltimore. They have some of the most restrictions on guns, and some of the highest murder rates.
Yet after the El Paso massacre, Democrat primary candidate Amy Klobuchar, a “moderate” only by comparison to her hard-left rivals, wrote, “The U.S. House has passed common sense gun safety legislation. It is long past time to pass it in the Senate. The question to ask: Whose side are you on? The NRA’s or the people’s?” “Beto” O’Rourke decried “lax gun laws,” Bernie Sanders called for “common-sense gun safety legislation,” and Kamala Harris vowed during her first 100 days as president to block the import of “assault rifles”. These empty statements have become anti-gun-nut mantras designed to exploit the suffering of the victims and the ghoulish spectacle of the crimes.
The next lie is the sinister power of “white nationalism.” According to a “manifesto” published online 19 minutes before the El Paso attack, probably by the shooter, his motives were focused on racial and national identity degeneration of the sort that troubled the Boston Brahmins like Henry Cabot Lodge. They, too, promoted racial purity, as well as “scientific racism,” eugenics, and the 1924 immigration law that restricted emigrants from Eastern Europe, Southern Italy, and other “inferior” countries filled with “beaten men from beaten races,” as MIT President Francis Amasa Walker put it.
Based on those sentiments, the shooter can fairly be called a white nationalist, but there is no evidence in his manifesto that he is part of a larger, organized group with any national following or influence. In fact, it appears that the shooter, like the vast majority of other mass-shooters other than jihadists, is a deranged loner. Like most such killers, he masks his personal demons, neuroses, and failures with the claim that he wants to shock awake Americans who aren’t taking seriously the degeneration of the country, one he blames on Republicans as well as Democrats.
But the killer’s fever-swamp ramblings do not bespeak a widespread “white nationalist” threat. Indeed, even the Southern Poverty Law Center, notorious for hyping the threat of “white supremacism” and the “alt-right,” puts the number of Klansmen at 6500, compared to the four million active in 1920. Moreover, according to Joel Kotkin of Chapman University, “The far Right has no political leader of consequence, and its media presence is limited, to say the least. As the Los Angeles Times reported last year, the nine major alt-right sites received nearly 3 million visits and 839,000 unique visitors, compared with 236 million visits and 102 million unique visitors for the mainstream Left, and 264 million visits and 111 million unique visitors for the mainstream Right.”
Yet predictably, the Trump-hating Democrat primary candidates are using the massacre to peddle their meme that Donald Trump is a friend of “white nationalists” and hence a “racist.” Julian Castro decried a “toxic brew” of white nationalism he linked to Trump’s “divisive racist rhetoric.” Jay Inslee proclaimed, “The first order of business to reduce white nationalism is to eliminate white nationalism in our White House. The sentiments of fear and division, and outright racism, that this president has emboldened ought to be sickening to anyone.” So too another low-polling candidate desperate for attention, Pete Buttigieg: “The President of the United States is condoning white nationalism. White nationalism is one of the evils that is motivating and inspiring at least some people to go kill Americans. The president has a responsibility to nip this in the bud.” And Elizabeth Warren tweeted, “We need to call out the president himself for advancing racism and white supremacy.”
This claim of Trump’s affinity for “white nationalism” has been debunked as a construct of selective editing of Trump’s remarks after the 2017 Charlottesville rally that left one woman dead. The media asserted that Trump characterized the white supremacists protesting the removal of Confederate statues as “very fine people.” What the media left out is Trump saying explicitly, “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.” Trump clarified once again that his comment merely pointed out that just as there were non-violent protestors among the Antifa thugs in favor of removing the statues, there also were nonviolent supporters of keeping them. He again emphasized that “Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
As of now, it appears that the El Paso shooter targeted Latinos, which has brought out yet another dimension of the “Trump is racist” smear: His efforts to improve border security and fix our broken immigration system are a “racist” attack on yet another “people of color.” Cultural appropriator “Beto” O’Rourke, for example, recycled another dishonestly edited Trump quote: “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’s called Mexicans rapists and criminals.”
First, O’Rourke’s claim that hate crimes have risen steadily from 2016-2019 is dubious, and not just because the most recent statistics, like the DOJ’s report released in March of this year, go up only through 2017. But there are other problems with hate-crime data, such as elastic definitions of what constitutes a hate-crime, and the subjectivity and reliability of self-reported data. As Heather MacDonald points out,
In 2017, the FBI reported an additional 1,000 hate crimes from 2016, for a total of 7,000. But an additional 1,000 police agencies participated in hate-crime reporting in 2017, as Reason’s Robby Soave has pointed out, so it’s not clear that that increase is real or simply a result of more reporting. Even if real, 7,000 “hate crimes” in a country this large is an infinitesimal number. And the definition of a hate crime is highly political: very little black-on-white street crime gets classified as such, though hatred for whites undoubtedly drives a considerable fraction of this activity. (Between 2012 and 2015, blacks committed more than 85 percent of interracial violent victimizations between blacks and whites.)
O’Rourke’s attempt to make a causal link between Trump’s immigration policies and reported hate crimes against Latinos is sheer demagoguery.
So too with the doctored Trump quote he alludes to, in which Trump called Mexican immigrants “rapists and criminals.” Here’s the full quote: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” First, everything he said is true. Our southern border is the gateway for most illegal drugs to reach this country. And every day there’s another story about an illegal alien murdering or raping a victim, many of whom are Latino. To argue, as some apologists do, that crime rates among the immigrant population are lower than natives is beside the point. The victims are still victims, and their suffering and their families’ suffering are a consequence of lax border controls resulting from state and federal policy. Are Angel Parents, those families who have lost loved ones to illegal alien crime, to be comforted with some utilitarian cost-benefit political or business calculation, especially when their government has failed its foremost obligation––to protect their children’s “right to life”?
And of course, Trump’s acknowledgement that some immigrants are “good people” weakens the claim that his comment is “racist,” and part of a rhetoric of hate that culminated in the El Paso shooting. Stating facts bluntly is not a sign of racism.
We know that these comments and reactions are all about the Democrat primary and terminal Trump Derangement Syndrome. If we had a consistent principle about rhetoric causing crimes, then the Democrats would have condemned Black Lives Matter for the policemen assassinated in Dallas and Brooklyn, or Bernie Sanders for the shooting of Republican Congressmen by one of his supporters. They would have called for proscribing sermons in mosques that include verses from the Koran and Hadiths, which jihadists have told us repeatedly inspire their terrorist murder of infidels. The fact is, millions and millions of people hear hateful speech but don’t go out and massacre innocent people.
Finally, the Democrats’ habit of using mass shootings as fodder for their partisan political message is despicable. If they really cared about crimes against “people of color,” they would have long ago been talking about the violence of blacks against black people in the cities they run. It’s shocking moral idiocy that a party continually harping on “racism” ignores the fact that more blacks are murdered in one year than were killed in the whole history of racist violence from Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Act.
But as Trump pointed out about Baltimore, that would require the black elite to actually do something for their “brothers” and “sisters” trapped in Blue-State plantations. How much easier, and lucrative, it is to rail against “racism” and marginal “white nationalists,” and to exploit a tragedy in order to demonize a president who has done more for black and Latino Americans than Barack Obama ever did.