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Jeneé Osterheldt

Trump is loading America’s guns with racism, bigotry, and supremacy

President Donald Trump headed to Greenville, N.C. for a "Make America Great Again" rally.
President Donald Trump headed to Greenville, N.C. for a "Make America Great Again" rally.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images/file/AFP/Getty Images

Your president is loading guns, America.

At his rallies, chants of “Build that wall!” and “Send her back!” serve as ammunition.

Yet when mass shootings in Texas and Ohio over the weekend became the latest tragedies on America’s long list of domestic terrorist attacks, President Trump ignored the part he plays in empowering monsters.

“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump said Monday as he condemned the shootings. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.”

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We need bipartisan solutions, he said. We must end the “glorification of violence,” he claimed.

And yet supremacy, division, xenophobia, and violence are the tenets of Trump’s election strategy.

During his 2016 campaign, he regularly incited violence against protestors.

In November 2015, he called a Black Lives Matter activist “disgusting” and implied he deserved to be beaten up by the Trump supporters who tackled him during a rally in Alabama. As he fell to the ground, white men kicked and punched Mercutio Southall, Jr.

“Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing,” Trump said of the incident on Fox News.

In February 2016 at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump told a crowd, “So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of ’em, would you? Seriously, just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise. It won’t be so much because the courts agree with us, too.”

As president, he called supremacists very fine people. He vilified athletes protesting police brutality.

In July 2017, while speaking to law enforcement in New York, President Trump encouraged officers to be aggressive.

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“Please don’t be too nice,” he said, referring to the way officers protect a suspect’s head as they put them in the police car.

Last fall, Trump openly praised Rep. Greg Gianforte for assaulting a reporter.

“Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of — he’s my guy,” Trump said at a Montana rally.

He constantly declares the media the enemy of the people. It was at a Minnesota Trump rally that a photo of a supporter wearing a shirt that read “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some Assembly Required” went viral. Even in the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, he called on the media to take responsibility.

“The Media has a big responsibility to life and safety in our Country,” Trump tweeted Monday morning. “Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years. News coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!”

The El Paso shooter had an anti-immigration manifesto. It is Trump, not the media, who is pushing xenophobic hate across the country.

In May, while talking to Florida supporters about U.S. Border Patrol and deterring migrants, he asked, “How do you stop these people?”

Someone in the audience yelled, “Shoot them!” The crowd cheered.

Trump smiled and said, “That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement.”

He didn’t condemn them. He didn’t reject the notion. This man feeds off the fuel of hate.

Last month, Trump attacked “ ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen” in a tweet, telling them to go back to their “corrupt” countries. All of them were women of color. All of them are Americans. This is what supremacy looks like, the otherizing and dehumanization of nonwhite people.

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“Does it concern you that many people saw that tweet as racist and that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you on that point?,” a reporter asked Trump.

The president responded: “It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me.”

Trump wants us to believe he condemns white supremacy while he uses white nationalism to win support.

On Monday, Trump said one of the ways we can fight violence is to “shine light on the dark recesses of the Internet and stop mass murders before they start.”

He is one of “the perils of the Internet and social media” that cannot be ignored. He is a pusher of walls and whiteness, a believer in bigotry, and an “evil contagion” spreading online.

Mass shootings were a problem before Trump. America has a gun control problem. We need more than stronger background checks. And we need real mental health reform.

But not every mass shooting can be attributed to mental illness.

“Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger — not the gun,” President Trump said as he condemned the shootings as “barbaric slaughters.”

White supremacy is not a mental illness. It’s an American pastime far older than our president. And because he knows its power, Trump the Barbarian uses it as a weapon.

Bang. There goes another tweet.

Bang. There goes another chant.

Bang. There goes another supporter with a gun.

America, there’s a monster in the White House.


Jeneé Osterheldt can be reached at jenee.osterheldt@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sincerelyjenee.