As was the case with today’s mass shooting in Midland and Odessa, the El Paso shooting was a horrific, preventable tragedy. The victims who were fortunate enough to survive the aftermath deserved better than Donald Trump embarrassing himself with yet another botched response where he proved he’s bought and paid for by the gun lobby. The fact that he wasn’t wanted in the city and many of the victims and caretakers didn’t want to see him speaks volumes of his failure. What sets him apart from just about all of his predecessors, aside from the obvious, is that he’s the only president to inspire a national tragedy, and he’s taking the Republican Party and the NRA with him.
Donald Trump held one of his hate-filled rallies in El Paso just six months before the shooting – and used most of the same vile anti-immigrant rhetoric as the shooter – but he’s not the only Republican taking heat for what happened. It turns out that Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a staunch Trumper and right wing bigot who could probably claim to be Trump before Trump, wrote a despicable fundraising letter to fellow Republicans just hours before the shooting took place.
“If we’re going to DEFEND Texas, we’ll need to take matters into our own hands,” Abbott’s letter reads. He goes on to describe an invasion of the southern border and urges Republicans to donate in support of a border wall and vows to arrest enough migrants “to amount to the population of Galveston.”
The implications of violence aren’t too subtle – there are ways that Republican voters who receive the letter can take matters into their own hands besides giving money or voting and Abbott knows it – but of course he takes no responsibility for the contents of the letter, simply admitting on Twitter that “mistakes were made” by sending it out. He didn’t address the language of the letter or even specify what the mistakes were, and it’s hard to believe that’s a coincidence.
Abbott’s statement is merely his due diligence – an attempt to say he really didn’t mean the rhetoric that incites tragedies like El Paso using as few words as possible, and it’s far from the first outrageous statement he’s made as governor condoning recklessness with guns. This case makes it clear that the Republican problem with bigotry and violence goes beyond Donald Trump, and could very well survive him.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making