If the president of the United States cannot be held directly responsible for last week’s mass-shootings, his speech does fuel hatred no amount of spin can hide.
First published in August 2019.
Donald Trump’s media-whisperer, Kellyanne Conway, has been doing the rounds to explain that it is racist to call the US president racist. That it is a dangerous lie to say the president tells dangerous lies.
Ms Conway is a fluent and accomplished master of spin. She has a way with words and has often, in the past three years, been able to employ outrage in the service of Mr Trump to good advantage. She has often been able to talk her way past the reality of Mr Trump’s dishonesty, incompetence, racism and bigotry. She has often been able to turn the rhetorical tables on those who call out Mr Trump’s unfitness for high office.
But funnily, in the grimmest way possible, Ms Conway’s silver tongue and spinmeistership cannot prevent the world from seeing President Trump as he is.
Consider the following:
▪ Spain’s El País newspaper has framed the El Paso shooting as the “greatest racist crime against Hispanics in modern United States history.”
▪ France’s Le Monde editorialised about Mr Trump’s words and the spread of violent ideologies. “The president of the United States cannot be held directly responsible for the two killings of the weekend,” it said, “but his speech fuels hatred.”
▪ The Times of India headlined its concern after El Paso: “Fingers point at Trump for stoking racism and xenophobia.” Bear in mind that Indian techies have been shot in the US after Mr Trump’s election, simply on account of their colour.
▪ Some countries, such as Uruguay and Venezuela, even issued travel warnings for the United States.
▪ The government of Mexico, which lost eight citizens in the massacre, called it an “act of terrorism.”
▪ Marc Pitzke, a writer for the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, wrote an opinion column headlined “America’s new civil war” and said that the El Paso gunman’s statement of “cultural and ethnic displacement” included ideas once considered on the fringe that have become mainstream in recent years.
▪ Most chilling of all was an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, which likened Mr Trump’s comments about Latinos to hate speech made ahead of the Rwandan genocide. It noted: “Trump has also referred to Latin American refugees and asylum seekers as ‘rapists,’ ‘criminals,’ ‘drug dealers’ and ‘terrorists’. It’s worth remembering that when a Rwandan politician described Rwanda’s Tutsi minority as ‘cockroaches’ it started a genocide that resulted in the deaths of upwards of one million people in that country.”
The world sees Mr Trump as he is. No amount of spin can change that.🔷
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