Cheney Free Press -

By JOHN McCALLUM
Managing Editor 

It's time to take responsibility for harmful words

Write to the Point

 

August 8, 2019



Let’s say this first, just to get it out of the way.

Most of the problems facing this country brought once again into the limelight from the two mass shootings over the weekend were not created by the current occupant of the White House. The same can be said about the issues Donald Trump’s apologists are trying to steer us towards in order to deflect blame he may bear for exacerbating them.

But the inconvenient truth is that Trump bears a lot of responsibility for making things worse. Indeed, he and his followers take pride in the division they’re creating.

For instance, mental health and guns. This headline announced a story appearing in the Feb. 28, 2017 issue of USA Today: “Trump signs bill reversing Obama rule to ban gun purchases by mentally ill.”

The rule tightened background checks by requiring the Social Security Administration to submit records of mentally disabled people to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, an FBI database for determining whether someone can buy a firearm under the 1993 Brady Bill. It would’ve applied to about 75,000 people “adjudicated as a mental defective” and who applied for Social Security benefits.

Trump said he would “un-sign that so fast” while campaigning for the job. He did, thus removing a potential tool for law enforcement to use to keep us safe, and yet he turns around and claims no other administration has done as much as his to make Americans safer.

Let’s look at rhetoric. The shooter in El Paso published an essay of his thoughts and beliefs, which include justification for his actions in order to thwart a supposed “invasion” of Texas by Hispanics. White House officials refused to allow responsibility for this to be laid at their boss’s feet.

Yet, according to an article in the New York Times, President Donald Trump’s Facebook page ran almost 2,000 ads referring to an immigrant “invasion” at our southern border, screaming “We have an INVASION! So we are BUILDING THE WALL to STOP IT.” Those ads were viewed between 1,059,000 and 5,559,801 times, and that doesn’t even include his personal use of the word “invasion” to describe immigrants from his Twitter account.

And what about actions? At a campaign rally on May 8 in Panama City Beach, Florida, Trump asked what they were to do about the waves of immigrants streaming north from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, prompting a response of “Shoot ‘em!” from someone in the crowd.

Here was a moment to show leadership and throw some water on the cauldron of hatred being stirred up in this country. Instead, Trump paused, smiled, took in the cheers and laughter, pointed in the direction of the speaker and made a joke: “Only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement. Only in the Panhandle.”

And now, 22 people are dead in El Paso thanks to hatred of Hispanics.

Make no mistake, part of Trump’s base includes white supremists and others who wish to see this country “made great again” through the denial, if not outright removal, of people who have helped make that greatness.

“We are determined to take our country back,” former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke said after the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to take our country back. And that’s what we gotta do.”

Guns, mental illness, sure. But they’re all part of the greater threat to us personally and as a nation — the threat of hatred empowered by one person’s words and the silence of many others who disagree.

The first will never change. The second should.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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