August 29, 2020

Former DHS Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Neumann explained how Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric creates an environment that increases the likelihood of white supremacist and vigilante violence.

Neumann has recently endorsed Joe Biden. One of her reasons is that she believes Trump’s “divisive language is indirectly tied to some of the attacks that we have seen in the last two years.” She was referring to white supremacist and right-wing vigilante murders, such as the murder of two Black Lives Matter protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin this week.

Neumann elaborated on that point on MSNBC this morning.

Host Zerlina Maxwell noted that while there are no overt links between the alleged Kenosha shooter and white supremacist groups or militias, and that both Kenosha victims were white, this shooting, like previous mass shootings in El Paso and Christchurch, New Zealand “seem to line up” with Trump’s rhetoric.

According to Neumann, the key is how Trump’s rhetoric preys on the fears of people who are already fearful.

NEUMANN: His rhetoric is giving permission for ideas and groups that had previously been hiding under a rock somewhere to come out and be in full force and that -- what that does is it creates opportunity for the small, small percentage of the population that would possibly consider carrying out an act of violence.

The more that you make his rhetoric mainstream, the more likely you can recruit those individuals that would then carry out that act of violence.

So, it's almost you're expanding the pool of potential, vulnerable people and then adding fuel to the fire, creating more fear, creating -- these usually are scared people. They’ve been scared about something. Wrongly scared -- you know, people coming into our country who are desperate, in need and seeking asylum. These are not people to be fearful of, but the president has told them that we should fear them and gives them example after example after example and that creates in certain individuals the need to go and protect.

That's that vigilanteism and unfortunately he's just -- his rhetoric is adding fuel to the fire and we have more and more examples of people trying to take the matter into their own hands with devastating consequences.

Sadly, it's not just Trump. Fox News and conservative talk radio repeat and amplify the same rhetoric.

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