Shootings may be watershed moment in history

To the Editor:

The events of this past weekend may be looked back upon as a watershed moment in our history.

When the current occupant of the White House launched his campaign in 2015, he wasted no time demonizing the immigrants at the southern border.

As his campaign and administration have gone forth, his words and actions have made it crystal clear that he feels his path to remaining in power is to exploit racial divides and anxieties, nurture the resentment and grievances of those who feel threatened by our country becoming more diverse, and provide a bogeyman to blame for all those who feel their lives haven’t been all they felt entitled to, or even preventing them from achieving all they could. To a degree never before seen in American politics, there is nothing he won’t say or promote to that end, repeating profoundly untrue statements and statistics if he thinks it will whip up his base supporters.

The statements and actions towards a whole spectrum of minority groups have been harmful, hurtful and cruel by design, exacerbated by some in his administration who are even more dark-hearted than himself, like Stephen Miller.

His “campaign” rallies inevitably take these verbal atrocities to another level, featuring his selected villain or non-white horde of the week to vilify for his perceived benefit, cheered on by his rabid cult followers, who couldn’t care less about the veracity of his statements. The danger of this irresponsible, reprehensible behavior is an incitement to act upon his rhetoric, to do something about the “threats” to our country being espoused by a carnival barking, reality show entertainer. The rise of hate groups and hate crimes in recent years is fueled by many things, but one of them is the chronic, constant dehumanization from the very top of this administration, and that dehumanization make it easier to rationalize violence against those “others” who are trying to take our country away from us.

The motives behind the tragedy in Dayton is unclear, in El Paso it is not. The online diatribe posted by that killer shortly before his heinous actions clearly indicate his inspiration was provided by virulent anti-immigrant fervor, and even borrows verbiage from speeches at the aforementioned campaign rallies. And yet the GOP remains silent and spineless.

This has a 9/11 feel to it, and I don’t believe it will be brushed easily aside. And of course these tragedies were magnified by our tragic lack of common sense gun regulations, but that’s another letter.

— Doug Smith