One of the major methods of distraction has been a misbegotten attempt to equate the Dayton shooter with the El Paso shooter. A review of social-media accounts linked to the Dayton shooter shows support for the Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, approval of “antifa,” and anger at Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The difference between this and El Paso ought to be clear, but apparently it is not. Police say there is no evidence so far that the man in Dayton acted with political or racial motives when he killed nine people early Sunday morning. By contrast, the El Paso shooter left behind a four-page manifesto in which he lays out the explicitly political and white-supremacist motivations for his attack.
This is not to say there are not people on the left who espouse political violence. This includes not only antifa, but also the man who opened fire at a congressional-baseball practice in 2017, shooting four including Representative Steve Scalise, and who was a supporter of Sanders. Here, too, there is what ought to be an obvious difference: Sanders and Warren have not condoned or encouraged violence, whereas Trump has repeatedly encouraged violence and endorsed its efficacy. The El Paso shooter also directly echoed Trump’s rhetoric about an “invasion” of immigrants. While there are problematic leftists, there’s no evidence to suggest that they were the problem in Dayton or El Paso.
Meanwhile, the Fox News host Tucker Carlson, a frequent inspiration to the president, attempted a bold gaslighting of his audience last night, arguing that white supremacy is not real.
“It’s actually not a real problem in America,” Carlson said. “This is a hoax, just like the Russia hoax. It’s a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power.”
Conor Friedersdorf: Tucker Carlson is hurting America again
Carlson’s argument doesn’t stand up to minimal scrutiny. For one, it’s not clear who’s trying to “keep a hold on power.” The president of the United States has both treated white supremacy as real by condemning it (however perfunctorily) and risen to hold power with the support of white supremacists. Moreover, the evidence suggests that a white supremacist just killed 22 people in El Paso. If that’s not a real problem, one wonders what counts as a real problem in Carlson’s world. (The answer: Roma people and Democrats, but mostly immigration—a view the El Paso shooter apparently shared.)
A second distraction has arisen with Representative Joaquin Castro, a San Antonio Democrat, tweeting out a list of the 44 people in San Antonio who have made the maximum legal donation to the Trump campaign this year. The moral and political wisdom of Castro’s move is up for debate, though labeling it “doxxing” is plainly incorrect. Political donations are a matter of public record, easily viewable online, and news outlets publish the names of donors regularly.