In the wake of a deadly weekend of mass shootings by at least one verified White nationalist domestic terrorist, many are questioning President Donald Trump's role or responsibility in the violence.
While members of his own party have pointed fingers at video games, gay marriage, a lack of school prayer, drag queens and zombie movies, others are saying the repeated use of White nationalist talking points by the President on Twitter and in his MAGA rallies as well as tacit approval of actions by White supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia early in his presidency makes him partly culpable for White nationalist domestic terrorism.
But The Washington Post's Carol Leonnig questioned whether this was fair to Trump in a series of Twitter posts.
Sharing one of Trump's own Twitter posts lamenting the unfairness he sees in people blaming racism and his role in the recent terrorist attacks, Leonnig posted:
"Trump is right. No other president has been roundly blamed for a mass shooting before. The question: why is that?"
Trump is right. No other president has been roundly blamed for a mass shooting before. The question: why is that? https://t.co/y4pJxc9jyB— Carol Leonnig (@Carol Leonnig)1565093695.0
No. He said he had his views before Trump. That doesnt answer what moved him. https://t.co/JjLblAZuRF— Carol Leonnig (@Carol Leonnig)1565096577.0
Among the many people who responded to Leonnig was frequent Trump critic George Conway.
Conway responded to both of Leonnig's posts.
To her first query on why no other President had been blamed for mass shootings during their tenure in office, Conway responded:
"Um, because the racist terrorist killer wrote a racist manifesto that parroted the racist things that the racist president said? Just a wild guess. 🤔"
Um, because the racist terrorist killer wrote a racist manifesto that parroted the racist things that the racist pr… https://t.co/SKUCELKIhJ— George Conway (@George Conway)1565096733.0
"Right. And it doesn’t mean that he wasn’t influenced by Trump, as reflected in some of the turns of phrase in the killer’s manifesto."
Right. And it doesn’t mean that he wasn’t influenced by Trump, as reflected in some of the turns of phrase in the k… https://t.co/j5dewB43a7— George Conway (@George Conway)1565096797.0
Conway was not alone in telling Leonnig the reasons they felt Trump bore some level of responsibility for violence related to rhetoric he used.
@CarolLeonnig Because he repeatedly called human beings at our Southern borders invaders and said gunning them down… https://t.co/t2uUyJT7Vt— Jennifer Taub (@Jennifer Taub)1565097888.0
@CarolLeonnig As the NZ killer listed in his manifesto, Trump is an icon for the white nationalist movement. The ki… https://t.co/IH6lGQ81nC— djkocisi politics (@djkocisi politics)1565093782.0
@djkocisi2 @CarolLeonnig Exactly! I mean, read the manifesto he left for you all. He told you why and also tried to… https://t.co/rCfn3hD21Z— wanderlust (@wanderlust)1565097320.0
@CarolLeonnig Gee, I have no idea. 🙄 https://t.co/AaubCtKLIB— Mindful Primate (@Mindful Primate)1565096966.0
@MichellesDude @CarolLeonnig https://t.co/MJfW5QzN8v— LULU RESISTS (@LULU RESISTS)1565097723.0
@CarolLeonnig I’m going to go with, “because the gunman literally cited trumps rhetoric that immigrants were invadi… https://t.co/qQ0uMtn0ub— Howard (@Howard)1565107661.0
Others noted that President Barack Obama pointed no fingers at anyone in his response to the mass shootings, but one of the gunmen did.
@CarolLeonnig @Delavegalaw Don't remember Obama mentioning Trump AT ALL in his statement. The shooter talked about him all the time though.— Rook (@Rook)1565095569.0
@rooksrunes @CarolLeonnig @Delavegalaw This point can not be stressed enough.— Gary Wien (@Gary Wien)1565102366.0
@CarolLeonnig Oh, this is why https://t.co/8JktsPHZFA— Erik Halvorsen (@Erik Halvorsen)1565101774.0
@erikhalvorsen18 @CarolLeonnig And they increased those AD buys since the shootings— Swolecows (@Swolecows)1565105569.0
The President addressed the nation on Monday to finally denounce racism, White nationalism and White supremacy. However he again garnered criticism for identifying the city of Toledo as the sight of the second mass shooting on the weekend instead of Dayton.
The book The First: How to Think About Hate Speech, Campus Speech, Religious Speech, Fake News, Post-Truth, and Donald Trump, available here, addresses the question of the role of free speech in hate crimes and amplifying misinformation.