In the wake of three recent high profile mass shootings, media pundits have begun to ask whether or not Donald Trump bears some of the responsibility for the carnage. Even for some middle of the road voters, this connection has felt too extreme – and they instead argue that the real cause is mental illness or easy access to firearms.
While both of those are legitimate concerns, a recent report from ABC News reveals that there have been at least 36 criminal cases where perpetrators invoked the name of Donald Trump. The report took into account instances of violence, assault, or the threat of violence, meaning that the actual number is almost certainly higher, considering the number of threats that go unreported.
At least in nine of those cases, the perpetrator hailed Trump during or after attacking their victims. In another 10 cases, Trump and his rhetoric were cited in court to explain how the defendant acted. The crimes described in this report go back to the early days of Trump’s candidacy, when his supporters attacked a homeless man of Mexican descent in August 2015.
ABC News also looked into it – and were unable to find a single instance where the names of former Presidents Barack Obama or George W. Bush were invoked in a similar manner – almost certainly because neither president encouraged acts of violence at their rallies, or used the outright bigoted language that we’ve come to expect from Donald Trump on a daily basis. Now it’s not just the media showing concern.
Federal law enforcement officials told the news outlet that they’re concerned Trump’s rhetoric will continue to inspire violent individuals to take up arms, considering that the manifesto left behind by the El Paso shooter included passages that mirrored Trump’s anti-immigrant speeches. It’s only a matter of time before his rhetoric becomes a scandal of its own with another lawsuit.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making