Gun violence, white nationalism, and Donald Trump

I just can't hold my tongue about this one. It hit too close to home.

Two mass shooters killed 29 people across America this weekend. One of them was hours away from my home, in a city where many of my dearest friends live.

I know most of you signed up for this newsletter to receive quality political data journalism, but bear with me as I don’t offer up a data take on this. Instead, I can’t stop thinking about my friends and family being killed by a mass shooter. I can’t stop thinking about the parents who were shopping for school supplies as the beginning of the academic year approaches. I can’t stop thinking about young people—like me—being shot in the head while they enjoyed a drink on an otherwise normal Saturday night.

I also can’t help notice that our country’s leadership has only made the situation worse. I’m talking about interests groups’ strangle-hold on the legislative process and congressional Republicans’ inability to act on gun reform. But I’m also talking about President Donald Trump’s troubling past with white nationalists—white nationalists who are now killing their fellow man, woman and child in a bid to Make America White Again.

Donald Trump has a long history of making racist comments, thinly veiling his hate speech and refusing to confront white nationalists. Often, his speech incites hate and violence. My mind jumps to the racist comments he has made this year alone:

Two weeks ago, Donald Trump suggested that the Baltimore-based congressional district of US House Rep. Elijah Cummings was filled with crime, poverty and rats. When it turned out that it was just filled with non-whites, Trump doubled down. 

Three weeks ago, Donald Trump suggested that non-white US congresspeople should go back to “the countries they came from”. When it turned out that all of them are Americans, Trump doubled down.

Three months ago, Donald Trump laughed at one of his rally-goers idea that people should shoot immigrants who were attempting to cross the US-Mexico border, who he has in the past called “invaders”. 

And when it turned out that someone would shoot these “invaders”, what would he do?

By Sunday evening, when I’m posting this, the president was still at his golf resort in New Jersey. I suspect any other POTUS would have addressed the nation on national television by now. Not this one.

I do not think that the president cares as much about terrorism motivated by white nationalism than terrorism perpetrated by non-whites.

When two Americans were radicalized by jihadi extremists and killed 22 people in San Bernardino, California in 2015, Donald Trump called for a “total and complete” shutdown on “Muslim immigration” into America. And in 2016, when an American declared allegiance to ISIS and killed 50 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Donald Trump said it was “just the beginning” and that he had “asked for the ban” to prevent extremists from entering the country. (Never-mind that these terrorists were radicalized at home.)

Yet when two white men from Texas and Ohio — one who apparently posted an essay explaining his white nationalist motives — killed 20 people in two mass shootings a mere 13 hours apart, the president was silent. And he has remained silent.

It is not rocket science to connect the dots between Donald Trump’s rhetoric and white nationalist terrorism. And until we come to terms with the fact that his presidency has corresponded with an ugly and violent rise in mass murders perpetrated by white terrorists, we can’t properly combat the threat that the nation faces.


I won’t be sending my normal weekly newsletter today. I’ll distribute it tomorrow instead.

Elliott