Since the mass shooting in El Paso last weekend that killed 22 people and injured dozens more, the issue of Donald Trump’s culpability has gotten more attention, and deservedly so. Everybody knows that Trump did not shoot anyone or directly order that massacre. But given that the killer admitted he was targeting Mexicans and wrote a manifesto claiming “this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” the connection between his racist views and Trump’s hateful rhetoric can’t be ignored.
Trump’s defenders of course want us to ignore the causal relationship between Trump’s fear-mongering words, whether on Twitter or at rallies, and the violent acts that appear to have been carried out as a direct consequence. Not surprisingly, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was quick to tell ABC’s “This Week” last Sunday, “I don’t think it’s fair to try and lay this at the feet of the President… The people responsible here are the people who pulled the trigger.”
Many others, however, insist that Trump’s openly racist rants provide enough inspiration to push angry white supremacists over the edge, and to act on their rage with deadly results. For example, when speaking at an anti-gun violence forum today in Des Moines, Iowa, Sen. Kamala Harris made the point painfully clear: “People say to me ‘did Donald Trump cause those, those folks to be killed?’ Well no, of course he didn’t pull the trigger, but he’s certainly been tweeting out the ammunition.”
It turns out there is a specific name for exactly what Trump has been doing, and it doesn’t sound particularly flattering, let alone becoming of a President of the United States. It’s “stochastic terrorism,” a term that refers to “the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act, which is statistically probable but whose specifics cannot be predicted,” according to Dictionary.com. As Jonathon Keats of Wired.com put it earlier this year, “Stochastic terrorism lets bullies operate in the open with full deniability, since the random element erases any provable causation.”
Trump has already built a strong resume over many decades as a liar, fraud, hypocrite, tax evader, grifter, racist, white supremacist, misogynist, rapist, orphan-maker, traitor, and more. Now it seems he needs to update his LinkedIn profile to add stochastic terrorist to the list. This dangerous and toxic presidency knows no bounds.