Trump called for unity and swift action. He also called on the country to stamp out racism and hatred and fight the dark corners of the internet where such ideologies are allowed to flourish.
It all sounded perfectly presidential ― except that it was incredibly disingenuous coming from a man who has made such divisive rhetoric his trademark and encouraged it from his supporters.
Here’s a look at Trump’s speech ― and what he didn’t say about his own role in fanning the flames of hatred.
“The first lady and I join all Americans in praying and grieving for the victims, their families and the survivors.”
Trump spent the weekend at his golf club in New Jersey, even after news broke of Saturday’s shooting in El Paso, Texas. Hours after the tragedy, he stopped by a wedding at the club for a family of self-described Trump fans. Photos and video posted to Instagram show the president joking with the couple and their guests.
“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigtory and white supremacy.”
“You also had some very fine people on both sides,” Trump said in 2017, refusing to condemn the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who’d showed up for a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. One of those individuals killed Heather Heyer, a woman who was there to protest the rally.
In 2016, he repeatedly declined to denounce former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who has been a steadfast Trump supporter.
“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society.”
Trump has repeatedly encouraged his supporters to be physically violent with people who protest him. Some examples:
“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”
“You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out in a stretcher, folks. I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell ya.”
“Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”
At a rally in Panama City Beach, Florida, in May, Trump mused about how to stop undocumented immigrants. In response, a woman yelled, “Shoot them!” The president joked: “That’s only in the Panhandle, you can get away with that statement. Only in the Panhandle!”
“Open wounds cannot heal if we are divided.”
As a candidate and then as president, Trump has attempted to divide the country at essentially every opportunity. Journalists and pundits have written about how race-baiting and division are part of his strategy for reelection in 2020 ― just as they formed a key part of his campaign in 2016.
“I mean, the way our country is run, if it doesn’t happen to be me that wins, you know what’s going to happen?” he said in 2015. “They’re going to build a plant and illegals are going drive those cars right over the border. And they’ll probably end up stealing the cars.”
In 2018, he lamented immigrants coming to the United States from Haiti, El Salvador and African nations, which he called “shithole countries,” and said he’d like more people from the overwhelmingly white country of Norway.
In recent weeks, he has focused his attention on politicians of color, including four freshmen women in the House who, he said, should “go back” to the countries from which they supposedly came. He has also blasted Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who is African-American, and disparaged the main city in Cummings’ district, which is majority-black.
“Each of us can choose to build a culture that celebrates the inherent worth and dignity of every human life.”
Trump frequently talks about women and people of color in ways that disregard their worth and dignity. He has repeatedly warned of an “invasion” of immigrants, using language that also appears in a hate-filled document the El Paso shooting suspect may have written.
When Trump launched his 2016 campaign, he famously referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and people who are “bringing drugs” and “bringing crime.”
“We must recognize that the internet has provided a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds and perform demented acts. We must shine a light on the dark recesses of the internet and stop mass murders before they start.”
“We will stand by their side forever. We will never forget.”
Instead of paying homage to the people of Dayton, Ohio, where the second shooting happened over the weekend, Trump on Monday extended condolences to the city of Toledo, about 150 miles away.
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