Trump and the GOP backing him use tragedy to push hate

Trying to exploit for self-promotion the murder of 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has sunk to new lows in bigotry, fear mongering and slander. Neither Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan have uttered one word of criticism, however. In fact, both have recently reiterated their support of him.

The Washington Post reported that “in a speech [Monday] laden with falsehoods and exaggeration, Trump was antagonistic and pugnacious, in stark contrast with … Hillary Clinton, who also spoke Monday about combatting terrorism.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D.-Ga., tweeted “Donald, you need to shut up. Give the American people time to grieve.”

In his speech, Trump accused the entire Muslim community of harboring criminals such as Omar Mateen, who opened fire Sunday morning in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, killing 49 people and injuring many more.

In fact, Mateen acted entirely alone.

Trump repeated his call for banning all Muslims from entering the United States, even though Mateen was born in New York.

He congratulated himself for “predicting” such a tragedy would occur and said that somehow President Obama is in league with terrorists.

“We’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart or has something else in mind,” Trump said. “And the something else in mind – people can’t believe it. People cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts … there is something going on.”

Trump suggested that if the people in the Orlando nightclub had had guns, “things might have been different.”

In sharp contrast to Trump, President Obama said that the Orlando tragedy is another example of why the U.S. needs stricter gun control laws.

Mateen bought his murder weapons perfectly legally from a gun store in Orlando.

On the floor of the U.S. House, Rep. Jim Hines, D. -Conn., said that Congress was “complicit” in the shootings in Orlando and elsewhere because it refuses to take action on gun control. Hines represents Newtown, where school children were killed by a mass murderer.

Also in contrast to Trump, Hillary Clinton called for national unity and said that “inflammatory, anti-Muslim rhetoric” encourages terrorists.

Furthermore, Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil-rights and advocacy organization in the United States, said on Sunday:

“For many years, members of the LGBTQ community have stood shoulder to shoulder with the Muslim community against any acts of hate crimes, Islamophobia, marginalization, and discrimination. Today we stand with them shoulder to shoulder.

“The liberation of the American Muslim community,” Awad continued, “is profoundly linked to the liberation of other minorities-blacks, Latinos, gays, Jews, and every other community. We cannot fight injustice against some groups and not against others. Homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia-we cannot dismantle one without the other.”

He also said that “the largest massacre in modern U.S. history was committed by a man … during Ramadan. For true Muslims, this would be heartbreaking at any time, but it’s especially tragic now.

Ramadan is a time of patience, humility, generosity – it’s a time of overflowing love. The attack in Orlando was all hate – hate of freedom, hate of love, hate of the LGBT community.

“Now, more than ever, is a time to reject calls for division and hate, to denounce all forms of violence.  Now is a time to remember the common bonds that link all people.”

Donald Trump is calling for just the opposite. Backed by Republican leaders such as McConnell and Ryan, he’s trying to pit American against American, community against community.

As an editorial in today’s Washington Post says, Trump is revealing himself “more clearly than ever as a man unfit to lead.”

Photo: Mourners at a vigil for the victims of the Orlando shooting.  |  David Goldman/AP


Larry Rubin
Larry Rubin

Larry Rubin has been a union organizer, a speechwriter and an editor of union publications. He was a civil rights organizer in the Deep South and is often invited to speak on applying Movement lessons to today's challenges. He has produced several folk music shows.