Now that we have a mass shooter manifesto explicitly parroting Donald Trump's own language (see: "invasion," "fake news") and singling out Trump for his shared ideological stances (the Christchurch, New Zealand terrorist called Trump "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose" in that regard; the El Paso gunman instead devoted manifesto text to attempting to immunize Trump from "fake news" blame), the political press and punditry must once again wrestle with the notion that Donald Trump is a racist whose constant false conspiracy-peddling is helping to provoke white nationalist terrorists into action.
And by God they do not want to do that, so we continue to get major publications like the New York Times tiptoeing around the extent to which Trump's rhetoric is directly stoking violence, even in pieces where experts are directly telling them that Donald Trump is absolutely stoking violence, you doughy-headed obsessive-compulsive both-siders.
“[T]op political leaders and partisan media figures encourage extremism when they endorse white supremacist ideas and play with violent language. Having the most powerful person on Earth echo their hateful views may even give extremists a sense of impunity,” assistant LSU professor Nathan Kalmoe told the New York Times.
"This has come up repeatedly" in Trump's tenure, offers the Times weakly, what with the repeated incidents of domestic terror linked to Trump's conspiracy theory of-the-moment or carried out by diehard Trump supporters. (The first third of the piece is devoted to the political accusations being hurled back and forth, before we get to professors willing to cut through the gibberish with explanations of how Trump's rhetoric has allowed violence-seeking extremists to "come out of the shadows.")
Those experts are countered, of course, by an ex-NRA television host and f'king Kris Kobach, for some reason, which is akin to holding a debate between climate scientists and, well, Kris Kobach. Or medical doctors and Kris Kobach. Or literally anyone and Kris Kobach.
This has indeed come up repeatedly, after each new incident of astonishing bloodshed in America. We get these tentative acknowledgements in the press that the leader of the nation is doing something extraordinary, something that we would not hesitate to declare unspeakably evil if any other tinpot leader made it the cornerstone of their own attempts to hold onto power, after which each of the networks and papers eases back into their well-worn niches of endless access-enforced ambiguity in which we can be sure of absolutely nothing because after all Kris Kobach piped up so who are we to say what is true and what is not? Into the fire, all of us, and let historians glean what they may from the ashes.
Most of this is the result of journalistic convention. “It remained unclear whether Mr. Trump’s 10-minute remarks, coming after one of the most violent weekends in recent American history, could position him to unify the nation when many Americans hold him responsible for inflaming racial division,” reported the Times in a separate story on Trump's meek and staff-written denunciation of the violence intended to further one of his own nationalist-premised policy goals. This is the journalism way of saying there is not a chance in hell that the conjectured-upon thing will happen; there is not a single goddamn chance that a sociopathic narcissist will buck off decades of his own identity and emerge as the Hero The Moment Needs, just as there was not a single goddamn chance of the same pivot happening in the wake of now-countless other scandals, catastrophes, and terrorist acts.
But the journalistic convention is going to kill us all, if it cannot respond to White House willingness to use demagoguery, falsehood, conspiracy theory, and demonization to overtop the "free" press and rewrite the premises those conventions are based on. There is no there remains unclear about Trump's continued willingness to promote eliminationist rhetoric, turn a blind eye to those promoting violence in his name, and delegitimize government and press alike if either stands in his allies' way.
Trump will still be stoking dangerous extremism next week. There is no question about it, regardless of whether Kris Kobach is quoted or not. He will still be using racism, raw and ugly and premised on notions of an "invasion" that threatens our nation and culture, as his most visible and relentless campaign plank.
And there will be more murders premised, directly, on those claims. Each past act of violence has only caused him to repeat and further hone his rhetoric; he will do it again this time, and there will be absolutely no confusion in any rational mind over whether or not he intends to further demonize, even after this, his chosen targets.
Published with permission from Daily Kos.