Trump, the caravan, and the Pittsburgh Shooter

I started reading this excellent Adam Serwer piece thinking, “yeah, but blaming Trump for the Pittsburgh shooter still seems a bit much” but this is an amazing look at how right-wing media is covering the caravan:

In the right-wing fever swamps, where the president’s every word is worshipped, commenters began amplifying Trump’s exhortations with new details. Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida wondered whether George Soros—the wealthy Jewish philanthropist whom Trump and several members of the U.S. Senate blamed for the protests against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and who was recently targeted with a bomb—was behind the migrant caravan. NRATV, the propaganda organ of the National Rifle Association, linked two Republican obsessions, voter fraud and immigration. Chuck Holton told NRATV’s viewers that Soros was sending the caravan to the United States so the migrants could vote: “It’s telling that a bevy of left-wing groups are partnering with a Hungarian-born billionaire and the Venezuelan government to try to influence the 2018 midterms by sending Honduran migrants north in the thousands.”[emphases mine] On CNN, the conservative commentator Matt Schlapp pointedly asked the anchor Alisyn Camerota, “Who’s paying for the caravan? Alisyn, who’s paying for the caravan?,” before later answering his own question: “Because of the liberal judges and other people that intercede, including George Soros, we have too much chaos at our southern border.” On Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show, one guest said, “These individuals are not immigrants—these are people that are invading our country,” as another guest asserted they were seeking “the destruction of American society and culture.”

My oh my.  I knew it was bad, but, wow.  And, yes, shame on the mainstream media, too:

In the meantime, much of the mainstream press abetted Trump’s effort to make the midterm election a referendum on the caravan. Popular news podcasts devoted entire episodes to the caravan. It remained on the front pages of major media websites. It was an overwhelming topic of conversation on cable news, where Trumpists freely spread disinformation about the threat the migrants posed, while news anchors displayed exasperation over their false claims, only to invite them back on the next day’s newscast to do it all over again.

Yeah, but what does this have to do with the shooter.  Actually, something:

Nevertheless, some took the claims of the president and his allies seriously. On Saturday morning, Shabbat morning, a gunman walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed 11 people. The massacre capped off a week of terrorism, in which one man mailed bombs to nearly a dozen Trump critics and another killed two black people in a grocery store after failing to force his way into a black church.

Before committing the Tree of Life massacre, the shooter, who blamed Jews for the caravan of “invaders” and who raged about it on social media, made it clear that he was furious at hias, founded as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a Jewish group that helps resettle refugees in the United States. He shared posts on Gab, a social-media site popular with the alt-right, expressing alarm at the sight of “massive human caravans of young men from Honduras and El Salvador invading America thru our unsecured southern border.” And then he wrote, “hias 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.”

Obviously, there will always be crazy people out there who can be activated by the most absurd propaganda.  But, only in America do they have such absurdly easy access to guns.  And, a president who aids and abets the worst of what the right-wing fever swamp has to offer.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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