President Trump visited the two cities where last weekend’s mass shootings took place - Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. He tweeted that he wanted to meet “with First Responders, Law Enforcement, and some of the victims of the terrible shootings.” Before leaving for his Dayton visit, he declared to reporters his concern about any hate group, “whether it’s white supremacy or any other kind of supremacy, whether it’s Antifa, whether it’s any group or kind of hate.” The president indicated his support for legislation strengthening background checks for gun purchases and keeping guns out of the hands of mentally ill people.
Not surprisingly, President Trump was met with protests in both cities as well as vicious partisan attacks.
To her credit, the Democrat mayor of Dayton, Nan Whaley, greeted President Trump at the airport. She and Ohio Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown met with the president. However, prior to the president’s visit, Mayor Whaley had said she supported those who intended to protest the president, declaring that he's "made this bed and he's gotta lie in it. His rhetoric has been painful for many in our community and I think the people should stand up and say they’re not happy if they’re not happy that he’s coming.”
The president and First Lady Melania Trump visited a Dayton hospital to meet with patients who were victims of the shooting, as well as with emergency and hospital staffers. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the president told survivors at the hospital, "You had God watching. I want you to know we're with you all the way."
Protesters trailed the president and first lady as they arrived at the Dayton hospital. Some were chanting, "hey hey, ho ho! Donald Trump has got to go!" Some waved signs that said, “Dump Trump.” Some congregated in front of a “Trump baby” balloon. One of the protesters held a sign saying “End This Terror” and made an obscene gesture in the direction of the motorcade. A woman yelled, “Trump for impeachment.”
At least 200 people reportedly took part in the Dayton anti-Trump protests. Some Trump supporters showed up as well. Fortunately, there was no violence.
The protesters no doubt had a good time venting their anger at President Trump. However, their blame game against the president was entirely misplaced. The Dayton shooter was certainly no fan of President Trump and was not motivated by any shared beliefs with the president or inspired by the president’s rhetoric. To the contrary, he reportedly was pro-Antifa as well as a supporter of Elizabeth Warren. The shooter was said to have tweeted at one point, “kill every fascist.” Yet there were no protests against Antifa, whose members have engaged in violence against those they consider “fascists.”
There also were no protests aimed at far-left Elizabeth Warren, whose ideas were evidently shared by the Dayton shooter. Nor should there be. The Dayton shooter was solely responsible for his own heinous crime. He acted out the violent demons in his head. Indeed, the Dayton shooter had a long history of mental problems leading up to his shooting spree. His rampage might have been prevented with timely treatment and the reporting of his prior threats of violence to law enforcement agencies and to the gun background check database system.
President Trump extolled the victims, families, first responders, medical staff and law enforcement officers he met in Dayton. Even Mayor Whaley said she thought the first responders and victims were grateful to see President Trump at the hospital. However, President Trump was not pleased with what the mayor and Senator Brown had to say at the joint news conference they held after the president departed, in which they denounced the president’s rhetoric and pressed their demands for sweeping gun control measures. President Trump tweeted that their news conference was “a fraud,” which “bore no resemblance to what took place with those incredible people that I was so lucky to meet and spend time with.”
After Dayton, President Trump visited El Paso. Just before he arrived there, two city officials issued a statement demanding that the president “personally condemn racial terrorism by white supremacists, in no uncertain terms.” Otherwise, the statement claimed, “his continued depiction of immigrants and migrants as a threat to our nation will only place our community at greater risk for racially-motivated attacks.” Their irresponsible statement ignores the fact that President Trump has been clear in his condemnation of racial violence and the ideology of white supremacy that can fuel such violence. Moreover, the statement conflates legal and illegal immigration. The president wants to crack down on illegal immigration and gaming of the nation’s asylum laws, not those who come to this country legally.
The El Paso shooting is being treated as a hate crime and as a possible act of domestic terror. The shooting suspect is reportedly a white supremacist who absorbed the virulent, racist invective appearing on extremist social media sites. He is said to have posted his own hate-filled manifesto shortly before his shooting spree, claiming that his “ideology has not changed for several years” and that his opinions on immigration and other subjects “predate Trump and his campaign for president.” Nevertheless, taking individual words from the manifesto such as “invasion” out of context and trying to match them with words used by President Trump in his speeches about illegal immigration, Trump haters seek simplistically to link the president’s rhetoric and the El Paso shooter’s carnage in cause and effect terms.
The manifesto purportedly written by the El Paso shooter contained outright appeals to racism that came from his own twisted mind and the racist rants of other like-minded bigots. For example, the manifesto recommended dividing America into a confederacy of territories, with at least one territory for each race to eliminate the mixture of races. It mused about violence to combat what the manifesto characterized as the threat Hispanics pose to America’s identity. Only an imbecilic demagogue would ascribe such beliefs to anything the president has said about illegal immigration, crime-ridden inner cities, the far-left anti-Semites who presently sit in the House of Representatives, or any other subject.
Beto O’Rourke, whose hometown is El Paso, is one such imbecilic demagogue. Democrat Rep. Veronica Escobar, whose congressional district includes El Paso, is another. In a bid to reignite his flagging presidential campaign, O’Rourke accused the president of stoking racism, inciting violence and being a white nationalist himself. Rep. Escobar said, "Words have consequences.The president has made my community and my people the enemy."
Both O’Rourke and Escobar strongly opposed the president’s visit to El Paso. "We do not need more division,” O’Rourke said. “We need to heal. He has no place here." Escobar said that President Trump was "not welcome" in El Paso. He “should not come here while we are in mourning.”
With remarks like these, O’Rourke and Escobar are the ones sowing division and hatred. El Paso Mayor Dee Margo hit the right note when he tweeted, “We will stay united as we work through the long healing process.” Despite their differences over immigration policy, the mayor set an example to residents of El Paso who do not like President Trump by focusing on the tragedy in their city, not dislike of the president. The mayor welcomed President Trump to the city as a sign of respect for the Office of the Presidency.
Rep. Escobar declined to meet with President Trump, saying “I refuse to be a prop.” Instead, she and O’Rourke joined a protest at El Paso's Washington Park opposing President Trump's visit. Adri Perez of the El Paso ACLU told protesters that “we must come together and say, Donald Trump, your racism, your hatred, your bigotry are not welcome here.” He urged the crowd to turn their grief “into anger and our anger into action.” What “action” he had in mind was not clear. Protesters held anti-Trump signs such as “Trump is a racist,” “Trump is a lying, corrupt racist,” “F..k Trump’s hate speech,” and “Trump not welcome here.”
As President Trump and the first lady had done in Dayton, they visited a hospital in El Paso to meet with medical professionals and victims from last weekend’s mass shooting. Trump haters and supporters were outside of the hospital shouting at each other. Police with shields and assault rifles were present to try and keep the peace. As in Dayton, there fortunately was no violence.
Instead of hitting the pause button on politicizing the tragedies and allowing the country some space to heal from the wounds, contenders for the Democrat Party’s presidential nomination continued to add fuel on the fire. On the very day that President Trump sought to console victims of last weekend’s two mass shootings and honor first responders, Joe Biden accused the president of being responsible for “fueling a literal carnage” in America. President Trump declared the speech “Sooo Boring!” It would also be accurate to say that Barack Obama’s vice president maliciously slandered President Trump, forgetting about the carnage from 24 mass shootings that occurred on the Obama-Biden administration’s watch, resulting in 236 fatalities.
Biden evidently forgot the words of his boss after the Aurora, Colorado mass shooting in 2012, in which Obama reminded Americans how such a tragedy "reminds us of all the ways that we are united as one American family." Indeed, Biden himself issued a statement saying, “The prayers of an entire nation are with the victims and their families.” Obama’s Republican opponent in 2012, Mitt Romney, said in response to the Colorado mass shooting, “I stand before you today not as a man running for office, but as a father and grandfather, a husband, an American… we can come together, show our fellow citizens the good heart of the America we know and love.’’ There was no politicization of the mass shooting tragedy in 2012. Leaders of both parties urged unity and offered words of healing. Not so today. Democrats and other Trump haters relentlessly attacked the president even as he tried to use his visits to Dayton and El Paso to unite and heal the country. Then they criticized him for fending off the grossly unfair personal attacks.
After his El Paso visit, the president declared that it had been an “amazing day.” He tweeted, “Leaving El Paso for the White House. What GREAT people I met there and in Dayton, Ohio. The Fake News worked overtime trying to disparage me and the two trips, but it just didn’t work. The love, respect & enthusiasm were there for all to see. They have been through so much. Sad!”
With all the slings and arrows aimed at President Trump on the day that he sought to console and honor those affected directly by the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings, the president displayed true leadership. He valiantly upheld the dignity of the Office of the President. His detractors on this solemn day disgraced themselves.