Rhetoric leads to violence

Only days after white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville last year, President Donald Trump said he was certain there were “very fine people on both sides.” As politically motivated violence rises, Trump’s hesitance to condemn domestic terrorists and acknowledge his own damaging rhetoric will only cause further violence.

Last month, 14 pipe bombs were mailed to Democratic politicians by an obsessed Trump supporter and 11 people were shot and killed in a synagogue by an outspoken anti-semite. Two weeks ago, a far-right self proclaimed “incel” shot two women in a yoga studio. These politically and racially charged incidents aren’t just unsolicited random acts of violence.

In 2017, a Trump supporter shot six people in an Islamic cultural center, a white nationalist stabbed two people on a train and an alt-right college student killed a black lieutenant for not stepping out of his way.

All of these violent instigators were active on discriminatory alt-right Facebook groups— the same groups that led to the Charlottesville rallies in August.

Despite the rise of right wing politically motivated attacks, the people in these groups aren’t the mainstream Republicans. They’re fringe radicalists who don’t represent the opinions of mainstream politicians, and it’s unfair and inaccurate to collectivize Republicans and conservatives as violent or racist.

Even so, it must be acknowledged that it isn’t a coincidence that this violence happened during Trump’s presidency. Over the past decade, the Republican party has evolved from a party of social and fiscal conservatism to a party that defends white supremacy and accused pedophiles.

When Trump said illegal immigrants were rapists in 2015, casual racism and discrimination became part of right-wing rhetoric, adding white nationalists and alt-right groups to Republican votership.

Since then, Trump has refused to publicly rebuke these groups, sticking to vague remarks of “peace and unity.” He has never addressed the racism behind the violence, simply tweeting that he is “saddened by these events.” Not once has he said he doesn’t support the cause of the alt-right or Neo-Nazis, refusing to call them terrorists and possibly lose a fraction of red votes. He even said that he would not contact any of the Democratic politicians who received pipe bombs, somehow citing the media’s unfair coverage of Republicans as a reason why.

In today’s political climate, Trump and the Republican party’s lack of condemnation is akin to an endorsement. While those doing violence aren’t in the mainstream, they’re still feeding off damaging ideas that Trump reinforces— encouraged by his lack of public dismissal, causing a cycle of politically motivated violence.

Until Trump and the mainstream Republican party change their rhetoric by openly denouncing these groups and criticizing these actions, violence against left wing politicians and minority groups will continue.