“The apparent spark for the worst anti-Semitic massacre in American history was a racist hoax inflamed by a U.S. president seeking to help his party win a midterm election. There is no political gesture, no public statement, and no alteration in rhetoric or behavior that will change this fact. The shooter might have found a different reason to act on a different day. But he chose to act on Saturday, and he apparently chose to act in response to a political fiction that the president himself chose to spread and that his followers chose to amplify.”
– Adam Serwer, Trump’s Caravan Hysteria Led to This, The Atlantic
This week the repercussions – of Trump’s and the Republicans and their propaganda networks’ lies and hysteria – hit hard.
Beginning last Monday, twelve pipe bombs were discovered, having been mailed to people Trump has railed against. Bombs were sent to Senator Cory Booker, former director of National Intelligence James Clapper, philanthropist George Soros, former CIA director John Brennan, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Representative Maxine Waters, Robert DeNiro, Joe Biden, Barack and Michelle Obama, and Hillary and Bill Clinton, and the CNN network. Thankfully, none of the bombs reached their intended targets or detonated. After an intensive search, Cesar Sayoc of Florida was arrested and charged with sending the bombs. Sayoc has a long criminal record and is a rabid Trump fan.
In Kentucky on Thursday, Gregory Bush tried to enter a black church and found the doors locked. So he went to a Krogers instead, shooting two black people. When confronted by an armed white man, Bush told him, “Don’t shoot me and I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t kill whites.”
Then on Saturday, Robert Bowers walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue and shot and killed eleven people attending a baby’s bris. Bowers had posted a comment online shortly before, saying, “HIAS [the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a Jewish non-profit] likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” Bowers appeared to be referring to a prominent white supremicist/neo-Nazi hoax, which alleges that nefarious, globalist Jews (George Soros is often named) are funding the Honduran caravan of asylum-seekers. Needless to say, this is the same hoax that Trump and the Republican Party at large have been flogging for weeks, hoping to scare voters enough to prevail in the midterms. Sadly, the mainstream media joined in and headlined the caravan story as well, amplifying their racist propaganda.
There can be absolutely no doubt that Trump, the Republican Party and their propaganda outlets – Fox, Limbaugh, Breitbart and others – created the combustible atmosphere in which these outbursts happened. The incitement is non-stop, deliberate and destructive. And they won’t stop.
Trump, of course, went right back to demonizing his opponents and ordered troops to the border to make a show of “protecting” us from the caravan which is a thousand miles away. Republicans claimed that Trump’s language wasn’t responsible for the effects it produced and maintained that shouting at Mitch McConnell in a restaurant was, in any case, just as bad as gunning someone down in their house of worship. And Fox News went right back to spewing racist lies that could have as easily come from the Nazis.
Both Sides Not
“The more extreme one side is, the more both-sidism you see. The last few days, NYT, CNN, AP and others freaking out about how to cover a one-sided issue.
Trump's violent rhetoric inspired violence. End of f*cking story.”
– Adam Davidson, Tweet
Confronted with the abject and entirely predictable horror that has resulted from Trump’s steady demonization of his opponents and promulgation of racist lies, the media is, even now, largely failing. They can’t seem to let go of their compulsion to tell the story as if both sides were equal or somehow culpable or, failing that, as if no one was really to blame. This is demonstrably false. There is literally no comparison, no equal, on the left to Trump’s vicious rhetoric. There is no equal to the Republicans’ incessant lying, whether about their tax bill, their attack on pre-existing conditions, or the dreaded caravan. And there is certainly no equal to the propaganda machine of Fox and others that churns out the lies and hoaxes that feed Republican statements and derange their followers.
It’s vital that we counter the lies. Fox advertisers need to be boycotted. And the mainstream media outlets, print and tv, need to be assailed when they let themselves be used to amplify hate, hoaxes and lies. Fact-checking after publishing statements verbatim is not nearly enough. We need to criticize them without cessation when they fail to call out racism and fascism, which they do daily.
Elections Have Consequences, Too
The stark danger we’re facing became all too real this past week – literally a question of life or death. If we don’t take back our country on election day, November 6th, we may well not have another chance. Trump’s grip will tighten, Republicans will look the other way as he hardens his dictatorship, and democracy will die. Don’t let it happen! Please, work every day from now through the election to turn out voters in red House districts and states in order to flip them blue. Find actions on our calendar, on our actions page and in postings to our Facebook group. Sign up to work The Last Weekend. Call, text, or canvass every day that you possibly can. Our country is depending on you.
– Tom Benthin
A reminder: a key resource for tracking all the abnormal events from the past week of the Trump presidency is Amy Siskind’s Weekly List: theweeklylist.org .
Before the disaster of the 2016 election we could follow the events that affected our lives by checking the news or seeing occasional posts on Facebook. Since then, with Trump’s erratic, aggressive and autocratic behavior and the Republicans’ unceasing attacks on our government and their efforts to transfer ever more money from working Americans to the rich, it has become much more difficult – and more important – to find our way through the weekly onslaught of news. To get ourselves grounded in the facts and to prepare for the week of action ahead, we provide this weekly summary of critical events to help us cut through the distractions and stay focused and informed as we fight to preserve our democracy.