During a speech before Congress Tuesday night, president Donald Trump condemned the recent hate crime that left a Kansas town shaken. But he did not take responsibility for the wave of hate his rhetoric has inspired. Instead he doubled down on it.
Trump does not believe that white supremacists are “terrorists.” He doesn’t believe that acts of terrorism committed by white supremacist and right-wing militias are somehow “not the same” as similar acts committed by Islamist groups such as ISIS.
In fact, he recently decided to shift federal resources away from tracking them.
These supposed distinctions did not help save Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian engineer killed in Olathe, Kansas, by Adam Purinton, a white man who apparently believed Kuchibhotla was Iranian.
The plain and uncomfortable fact is Adam Purinton and others like him are doing nothing more than following through on the spirit and words of Donald Trump’s xenophobia, nativism and racism.
Witnesses told police that Purinton yelled “get out of my country” at two 32-year-old Indian men, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, before he opened fire at Austin’s Bar and Grill in the Kansas City suburb last week.
Kuchibhotla was killed and Madasani injured.
The incident has raised concern about the treatment of immigrants, who feel targeted by President Donald Trump’s promises to ban certain travelers, build a wall along the Mexico border and put “America first.”
But this crime is part of a larger pattern:
Just hours before Trump gave his speech, a judge in Georgia sentenced two white supremacists to a combined sentence of 33 years in prison after they made armed threats against African-Americans at a child’s birthday party.
A white supremacist named Benjamin McDowell was arrested in South Carolina for planning an attack on African-Americans “in the spirit of Dylann Roof.”
Another white supremacist, William Christopher Gibbs, was recently arrested for possessing the deadly poison ricin.
Jewish synagogues and community centers across the country have been subjected to repeated bomb threats. At least two Jewish cemeteries have also been desecrated.
Mosques have been vandalized and threatened with arson and other violence.
In all, the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented about 900 hate crimes and other acts of intolerance since the November election of Donald Trump as president. This represents a record increase in these types of incidents.
Despite the violence, however, Trump continued to incite more violence against minorities, accusing illegal immigrants living in the country of causing much of the nation’s gang violence.
“As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our very innocent citizens,” he said. “Bad ones are going out as I speak.”
“We will soon begin the construction of a great, great wall along our southern border.” Trump said
By deporting illegal immigrants Trump said he’d “make our communities safer for everyone.”
Republicans and other conservatives love to claim that they are the country’s greatest defenders of the Constitution. In reality, they hold many of its most sacred values in contempt.
A recent article by Chauncey Devega for Salon Magazine highlights the hard truth:
“Trump’s senior White House strategist, Steve Bannon, formerly ran Breitbart News, which often espoused openly white nationalist views. Bannon’s White House colleagues Michael Anton (aka “Decius”), Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka also have extensive connections with, and affinities for, white supremacy and white nationalism.
As a group these men appear to believe that the United States should be a white Christian country and that other people are inferior to such “real Americans.”
The Trump administration’s de facto nonresponse to the wave of hate crimes against nonwhites, Jews and other racial and ethnic minorities since the presidential election also reflects the deep hypocrisy of today’s Republican Party and movement conservatives more generally.
If Donald Trump and the Republican Party actually believed in the Constitution, they would ensure that gays, lesbians and transgender people would be able to marry and use public facilities without fear of violence or harassment.
If Donald Trump and the Republican Party actually believed in the Constitution, they would want to stop police abuse and thuggery against African-Americans, Latinos, First Nations people and other vulnerable populations.
If Donald Trump and the Republican Party actually believed in the Constitution, they would not single out Muslims for profiling, travel bans and other violations of their human rights and dignity.
If Donald Trump and the Republican Party actually believed in the Constitution, they would not seek to deny women the right to make their own reproductive and other health choices.
If Donald Trump and the Republican Party actually believed in the Constitution, they would not threaten entire communities of people with mass deportation and arrest.
As the number of hate crimes increase and Trump’s human deplorables spill more blood in the street, Trump will inevitably trot out his mouthpiece Sean Spicer who will lie on command and tell the American people that there’s nothing to see here.
This is not a profile in presidential courage but a study in cowardice, bigotry and racism. This is the president the American people now have. Unfortunately, it is the president many of us deserve.”