Dear President Trump,
Christchurch, NZ is 8,904 miles from Washington D.C. as the crow flies and yet ideologically the distance between the men who murdered 49 people during prayer services yesterday and you is not nearly that far, your thoughts and prayers Tweet notwithstanding. The men who carried out the horrifically well-orchestrated attacks on two mosques were taking inspiration from many dark corners of the world and human history, including your bans on Muslim immigrants and your thinly veiled white supremacist codes.
The timing may be coincident, but I still think it’s noteworthy that you said things yesterday that skated right up to the edge of inciting violence and insinuated you would use military and police forces to quell opposition dissent:
“I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”
Last night I watched as much as I could stand of a Trump-apologist work himself into a pretzel arguing that you only meant that many police officers and members of the military support you and would defend themselves if the need arose. This was on CNN and the anchor and the other person providing commentary were absolutely incredulous at this lame-ass idea. I bet if you’d been there you’d have involuntarily guffawed since it was so clearly off the mark. No, no matter how many of your props try to convince us that we didn’t hear what we heard, you meant to instill fear and you meant to tell the lunatic fringe that their violence would be supported by the state, your state.
Yes, you mostly manage to say things in such a manner that you can claim plausible deniability and say that you never, ever (in a million years) encouraged anyone to actually harm anyone (cf. when you offered to pay your supporters’ legal fees if they would beat up the protesters at your campaign rallies). You’re slick and you know what you can and cannot say and what your supporters will and will not hear. You also know how to threaten and menace those of us who oppose you.
The direct line between you and the Christchurch terrorists and our domestic terrorists is easily traced and it is short. You are not the entire problem, but you are dousing the fire with gasoline.
May we be safe.
May we be willing to accept that words matter, that they have life and death consequences.
May we be healthy and strong in our unequivocal condemnation of bigotry.
May we have the courage to be peace.