‘Not Welcome Here:’ El Paso rejects racist president

Surely, most El Paso residents welcomed the remarks of Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren Wednesday, when joined the ranks of believers that Donald Trump is a white supremacist.

Asked by the New York Times if she thought Trump was a white supremacist, she responded, without hesitation:  “Yes.”

She adds:

He has given aid and comfort to white supremacists. He’s done the wink and a nod. He has talked about white supremacists as fine people. He’s done everything he can to stir up racial conflict and hatred in this country.

Notes Thomas Kaplan of the Times in his report about Warren’s remarks:

Ms. Warren’s comments amounted to one of the starkest condemnations to date from a leading Democratic presidential candidate about Mr. Trump’s language toward minorities and immigrants. She spoke hours after former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas gave the same assessment of Mr. Trump. Asked by MSNBC if Mr. Trump was a white supremacist, Mr. O’Rourke replied, “He is.”

After pushing the “birther” lie about President Barack Obama, Mr. Trump began his campaign for the presidency by disparaging Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals. As president, he sought to bar people from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States; said there were “very fine people on both sides” of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.; and used an obscenity to describe African nations.

He has warned of an “invasion” of migrants at the southern border. And last month, he said that four congresswomen of color should “go back” to the countries they came from; all four are American citizens and only one of the women was born outside the United States.

O’Rourke’s assessment:

He’s dehumanized or sought to dehumanize those who do not look like or pray like the majority here in this country.

Former Vice President, and candidate for president, Joe Biden says Trump has “fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation.”

Biden adds:

Trump readily, eagerly attacks Islamic terrorism but can barely bring himself to use the words ‘white supremacy. And even when he says it, he doesn’t appear to believe it. He seems more concerned about losing their votes than beating back this hateful ideology.

His low-energy, vacant-eyed mouthing of the words written for him condemning white supremacists this week I don’t believe fooled anyone, at home or abroad.

Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, another presidential candidate, reminds us that Trump “spoke the same words the El Paso murdered did, warning of an ‘invasion”” by Hispanics.

O’Rourke, in El Paso, Wednesday, said Trump must bear responsibility the mass shooting:

To have been so regularly attacked and vilified and demonized by this president, for him to have created the conditions that made an attack like this possible and ultimately likely — it’s very insulting for us that he was here.

Biden sums it up when he says Trump has “more in common with George Wallace than he does with George Washington.”

“Donald Trump has a central message,” Warren says. “He says to the American people, if there’s anything wrong in your life, blame them — and ‘them’ means people who aren’t the same color as you, weren’t born where you were born, don’t worship the same way you do.”

Richard Parker, a Texan and author of “Lone Star Nation: How Texas Will Transform America,” wrote Thursday in the New York Times that Trump’s “day of racist comments left him looking small and isolated while the city (of El Paso) united against him.”

Trump, he said, “not only littered (his visit) with petty insults  — but just to rub salt in the wound, doses of renewed racism.  Yet most striking was how along and outnumbered the president was:  rejected, ostracized and told to go home.”

Parker adds:

With no public appearances, the president seemed to shrink, ever more alone as he clung to his white nationalist politics and governance. But he and his supporters were grossly outnumbered. For perhaps the first time in his angry, racist and cruel presidency, the tables were turned in smoldering, righteous popular anger — and he was on the receiving end.

While it was bad manners for a nation in mourning, it was more than that: It was a fresh dose of racism. In an era in which minorities are becoming majorities, as in Texas, and intermarrying with Anglos, who is Mr. Trump to judge people’s race and ethnicity based on their names? My last name is Anglo, but I am the son of a Mexican immigrant.

Along the president’s route from the airport to a hospital, people lined the roads to greet him — largely with rejection. “What’s more important?” Asked one man’s sign. “Lives or re-election?” American and Mexican flags sprouted together in the August heat. Signs with quotes bearing his name came back to haunt him: “We cannot allow these people to invade our country.” “Not Welcome” covered a stage at a park where people protested the president. The El Paso Times ran a black front page with this headline: “Mr. President, We Are Hurting.”

Another president might have been sensitive enough to sense the shift, and changed course accordingly — played the convener, the unifier. Instead, Mr. Trump displayed just how small he is, no matter how big his mouth or powerful his office. He never once appeared in public. By 6:01 p.m., after just a little more than two hours, he was safely aboard Air Force One again and it was wheels up into the sky. But he is a shrinking president, stuck in a racist past, flying over a changing America. And I think we — or most of us — are all El Paso now.

Let’s hope America is listening.

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Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

Trump’s visit to shooting sites: Unity or hypocrisy?

Migrants turn themselves in to border agents in El Paso, Texas, after crossing the US – Mexico border. El Paso has swiftly become one of the busiest corridors for illegal border crossings in the U.S. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

President Donald Trump is bringing a message aimed at national unity and healing to the sites of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. But the words he offers for a divided America will be complicated by his own incendiary, anti-immigrant rhetoric that mirrors language linked to one of the shooters.

It is a highly unusual predicament for an American president to at once try to console a community and a nation at the same time he is being criticized as contributing to a combustible climate that can spawn violence.

White House officials said Trump’s visits Wednesday to Texas and Ohio, where 31 people were killed and dozens were wounded, would be similar to those he’s paid to grieving communities including Parkland, Florida, and Las Vegas, with the Republican president and the first lady saluting first responders and spending time with mourning families and survivors.

“What he wants to do is go to these communities and grieve with them, pray with them, offer condolences,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Tuesday. He said Trump also wants “to have a conversation” about ways to head off future deadly episodes.

“We can do something impactful to prevent this from ever happening again, if we come together,” the spokesman said.

That’s a tough assignment for a president who thrives on division and whose aides say he views discord and unease about cultural, economic and demographic changes as key to his reelection.

At the same time, prominent Democrats have been casting blame on Trump more often than calling for national unity in the aftermath of the shootings, a measure of the profound polarization in the country.

Trump, who often seems most comfortable on rally stages with deeply partisan crowds, has not excelled at projecting empathy, mixing what can sound like perfunctory expressions of grief with awkward offhand remarks. While he has offered hugs to tornado victims and spent time at the bedsides of shooting victims, he has yet to project the kind of emotion and vulnerability of his recent predecessors.

Barack Obama grew visibly shaken as he addressed the nation in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre and teared up while delivering a 2016 speech on new gun control efforts. George W. Bush helped bring the country together following the Sept. 11 attacks, notably standing atop the smoking rubble of the World Trade Center, his arm draped over the shoulder of a firefighter, as he shouted through a bullhorn. Bill Clinton helped reassure the nation after the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City and the mass school shooting at Columbine High School.

Trump, too, has been able to summon soothing words. But then he often quickly lapses into divisive tweets and statements — just recently painting immigrants as “invaders,” suggesting four Democratic congresswoman of color should “go back” to their home countries even though they’re U.S. citizens and deriding majority-black Baltimore as a rat-infested hell-hole.

In the Texas border city of El Paso, some residents and local Democratic lawmakers said Trump was not welcome and urged him to stay away.

“This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso,” tweeted Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who served the area for three terms as a congressman. “We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here.”

Trump, on the eve of his El Paso trip, snapped back on Twitter that O’Rourke “should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!”

In Dayton, Mayor Nan Whaley said she would be meeting with Trump on Wednesday, but she told reporters she was disappointed with his scripted remarks Monday responding to the shootings. His speech included a denunciation of “racism, bigotry and white supremacy” and a declaration that “hate has no place in America.” But he made no mention of new efforts to limit sales of certain guns or the anti-immigration rhetoric found in an online screed posted just before the El Paso attack.

The hateful manifesto’s author — police believe it was the shooter but investigation continues — insisted the opinions “predate Trump and his campaign for president.” But the words echoed some of the views Trump has expressed on immigration, including claiming that Democrats “intend to use open borders, free HealthCare for illegals, citizenship and more to enact a political coup by importing and then legalizing millions of new voters.”

Dayton Mayor Whaley said simply, “Everyone has it in their power to be a force to bring people together, and everybody has it in their power to be a force to bring people apart — that’s up to the president of the United States.”

Democrats vying to challenge Trump in the 2020 election have been nearly unanimous in excoriating him for rhetoric they warned has nurtured the racist attitudes of the El Paso shooter as they sought to project leadership during a fraught moment for a bruised nation.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner in the 2020 Democratic primary, is slated to speak on white nationalism on Wednesday in Iowa and, according to excerpts from his campaign, will declare Trump “lacks the moral authority to lead” because he has “aligned himself with the darkest forces in our nation” and “in both clear language and in code … has fanned the flames of white supremacy.”

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was delivering a speech on gun violence and white nationalism Wednesday at the Charleston, South Carolina, church where nine black parishioners were killed in 2015. Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, released a detailed plan for gun control and deterrence.

Gidley and other White House officials denounced suggestions that Trump’s rhetoric was in any way responsible for the shooting. They called it “dangerous,” ″pathetic,” ″disgusting.”

“It’s not the politician’s fault when somebody acts out their evil intention,” he said, pointing to other shooters who have expressed political preferences for Democratic politicians including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders.

“It is shameful that Democrats are unable to prevent themselves from politicizing a moment of national grief,” added Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh.

Trump, quoting one of the hosts of his favorite “Fox & Friends” show, tweeted: “Did George Bush ever condemn President Obama after Sandy Hook. President Obama had 32 mass shootings during his reign. Not many people said Obama is out of control. Mass shootings were happening before the president even thought about running for Pres.”

Warren spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said leaders have an obligation to speak out.

“Let’s be clear,” she said in a statement. “There is a direct line between the president’s rhetoric and the stated motivations of the El Paso shooter.”

Recent Pew Research Center polling found 85% of U.S. adults believe the tone and nature of political debate in the country has become more negative, with a majority saying Trump has changed things for the worse. And more than three quarters, 78%, say that elected officials who use heated or aggressive language to talk about certain people or groups make violence against those people more likely.

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Associated Press writers Elana Schor, Deb Riechmann and Darlene Superville and AP polling editor Emily Swanson contributed to this report.

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Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

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