Newspaper column: Trump call for unity met with derision, slurs

Lisa Benson cartoon

The campaign rhetoric is being brandished like a flame thrower, scorching the stump with recriminations, incriminations, insinuations and denunciations.

In the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton that left 32 dead and dozens more seriously wounded, Democratic presidential candidates unsheathed accusations that President Trump is the prime mover of such lunatic behavior, calling him a racist and a white supremacist.

“In both clear language and in code, this president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation,” former Vice President Joe Biden said in a speech. “Trump offers no moral leadership, no interest in unifying the nation, no evidence the presidency has awakened his conscience in the least.”

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts senator, told The New York Times that Trump is a white supremacist who has “done everything he can to stir up racial conflict and hatred in this country.”

She added, “Donald Trump has a central message. 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.”

Meanwhile, candidate and former El Paso Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke said Trump has made it “very clear” that he is a white supremacist who has “dehumanized or sought to dehumanize those who do not look like or pray like the majority here in this country,” according to Salon.

Candidate and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker noted that both the El Paso shooter and Trump described illegal immigration as an invasion. Booker said, “The character and the culture of who we are hangs in the balance. We can’t let these conversations devolve into the impotent simplicity of who is or isn’t a racist. The real question isn’t who is or isn’t a racist, but who is or isn’t doing something about it.”

Socialist candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was quoted as saying, “We have a president who is an overt racist and xenophobe. He should stay away from El Paso. What he should do right now is end his anti-immigrant rhetoric.”

The target of this vitriol, meanwhile, addressed the nation from the White House in a 10-minute speech calling for unity. “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul,” Trump implored.

The president called for a change in the American culture to “stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence.”

He concluded, “Now is the time to set destructive partisanship aside — so destructive — and find the courage to answer hatred with unity, devotion, and love. Our future is in our control.”

The parsing of words was so overwrought that when The New York Times accurately reported in a headline in its first edition the next day that “Trump urges unity vs. racism,” the self-styled social justice warriors stampeded online.

Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York tweeted, “Let this front page serve as a reminder of how white supremacy is aided by — and often relies upon — the cowardice of mainstream institutions.” Many threatened to cancel subscriptions.

In the next edition of the newspaper, the headline read, “Assailing hate but not guns.” All Trump had said was, “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”

As for blaming Trump for the El Paso shooter’s deeds, the shooter himself wrote in his rambling and demented screed posted online by the Drudge Report, “My ideology has not changed for several years. My opinions on automation, immigration, and the rest predate Trump and his campaign for president. I putting this here because some people will blame the President or certain presidential candidates for the attack. This is not the case. I know that the media will probably call me a white supremacist anyway and blame Trump’s rhetoric. The media is infamous for fake news. Their reaction to this attack will likely just confirm that.”

Pay no heed to the fact the Dayton shooter was an avowed socialist supporter of Sanders and Warren.

It is hard to create unity when so many who claim to want to lead this country are so divisive and obdurate. They see calls for unity as divisive. Look in the mirror.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

A bit of advice for the president

I considered wading in on the Twitter twaddle between President Trump and the socialist “squad,” but figured enough mud was being splattered on the walls already. What could I add?

But today the morning paper’s columnist Victor Joecks saved me the trouble and said what I meant to say, only far more succinctly:

When your political opponents are rhetorically clubbing each other to death, you stand back, shut up and get out of the way.

Unless you’re Trump, who — blinded by his own genius at shaping political stories — decided this was a great time to criticize AOC and her squad.

Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her “squad” had engaged in a social media slap fight with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, dividing the Democrat Party, and Trump just couldn’t resist wading in and uniting them, resulting in last night’s near-party line vote in the House to condemn Trump.

USA Today recounts: “The resolution, which said Trump’s “racist comments have legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color,” passed by an overall vote of 240-187.”

When your opponents are squabbling among themselves, let them, don’t unite them, Mr. “stable genius.”

The squad. (UPI pix)

 

Newspaper column: Free speech is not violence

The leftists have yet to learn that the proper response to speech they don’t like is to counter with more speech, reasoned speech. No, their first and constant response is: Shut up!

This is what happened after President Trump criticized a maladroit comment made by Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat and Muslim, in a speech before the Council on American-Islamic Relations. She said, “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

Trump tweeted a video splicing together Omar’s tone-deaf “some people did something” with footage of the World Trade Towers collapsing. It was captioned, “WE WILL NEVER FORGET.”

A number of Democrats immediately demanded that the video be taken down because it might incite violence against Omar, and Omar herself said she had been subjected to numerous death threats. Never mind that CAIR has been accused of supporting terrorist organizations such as Hamas or that it actually was founded in 1994.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted, “It is wrong for the President, as Commander-in-Chief, to fan the flames to make anyone less safe.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote on Twitter, “The President is inciting violence against a sitting Congresswoman — and an entire group of Americans based on their religion. It’s disgusting. It’s shameful. And any elected leader who refuses to condemn it shares responsibility for it.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, another Democratic presidential candidate, joined in by tweeting, “Ilhan Omar is a leader with strength and courage. She won’t back down to Trump’s racism and hate, and neither will we. The disgusting and dangerous attacks against her must end.”

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, another Democratic presidential contender, criticized Trump during a speech, saying, “This is an incitement of violence against Congresswoman Omar — against our fellow Americans who happened to be Muslim.”

The always outspoken and equally maladroit New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the video an “outright, dangerous targeting of a member of Congress.”

Fellow Democrat and Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib tweeted that Trump took “Ilhan’s words out of context to incite violence toward her …”

Inciting violence?

We don’t seem to recall Sanders being chastised thusly after a supporter of his candidacy shot up a Republican baseball practice, seriously wounding Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Nor do we recall anguish over the many political and media attacks against Trump, despite the number of threats the Secret Service fields.

As for the legal definition of inciting violence, the Supreme Court nailed that in the 1969 case of Brandenburg v. Ohio when it struck down an Ohio law making it illegal to advocate violence. The court held, “Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

Of course some Democrats are hand wringing over the possibility that some crazy person might be incentivized to act out violently due to Trump’s remarks, which clearly did not advocate violence of any kind.. If the crazy person standard is all it takes to silence criticism, then no speech is safe.

As for condoning violence, it was Rep. Omar who wrote a letter to a judge in 2016 asking for leniency for nine men charged with planning to join ISIS.

“A long-term prison sentence for one who chose violence to combat direct marginalization is a statement that our justice system misunderstands the guilty. A restorative approach to justice assesses the lure of criminality and addresses it,” Omar wrote.

“The desire to commit violence is not inherent to people — it is the consequences of systematic alienation; people seek violent solutions when the process established for enacting change is inaccessible to them.”

The answer to solving social and political issues is open and free discussion resulting in actions to combat wrongs, not violence. Using the specter of violence to gag free speech is fundamentally against everything this country was founded on and stands for.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.