You could call the killer who shot up a Walmart in El Paso evil, a madman, or a lone wolf, if you like. But it would be an intolerable omission if we did not also call him a white nationalist terrorist. This ideology is a growing sickness in America, and President Trump has a duty to thoroughly and roundly denounce it.
Trump ought to use the bully pulpit to become a leading crusader against white nationalism and racism. These mindsets are immoral and they threaten everything that makes America great. Some conservatives and Republicans have hesitated to acknowledge that this a growing scourge, but after El Paso any such reluctance is unacceptable.
The shooter is a white man from Dallas who traveled to El Paso so he could murder as many “Mexicans” as possible. He targeted Mexicans and Mexican-Americans because he held a vision of America as a white nation.
This vision, while un-American and non-conservative, is wedded to an ideology. And just as conservatives regularly call on our leaders to name and condemn the evil of radical Islamic terror when it is behind shootings and bombings, we call on Trump to name and condemn the evil of white nationalism.
Yes, there are many evils in this country, but that shouldn’t stop Trump from undertaking a targeted attack on this specific evil.
Following a white nationalist march in Charlottesville in 2017, a man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, trying to kill as many as possible. He injured many and murdered Heather Heyer. Trump famously and shamefully equivocated, refusing to name and condemn the evil behind this act of vehicular terrorism and instead mouthing vague words about “both sides.”
A white man in Kentucky shot up a black church in October 2018, telling one terrified white bystander “whites don’t shoot whites.”
The man who murdered 11 at a Pittsburgh synagogue called Jews “the enemy of white people.”
A majority of domestic terrorism cases are motivated by white supremacism, according to Christopher Wray, the man Trump has put in charge of the FBI. So why hasn’t Trump spoken out against our leading source of domestic terrorism?
There are many possible explanations, but we suspect part of it is the same reason he has failed to acknowledge and condemn Russian interference in our election and other Russian misdeeds. When the media and the Democrats use some real evil as a cudgel for attacking Trump, his instinct seems to be to deny the evil rather than to dissociate himself from it.
Plenty in the media and in politics blame Trump for the rise of white nationalism. Many of them are the same folks who have always argued that conservatism — whether tax cuts, defense of the unborn, or belief in free enterprise — is just thinly veiled racism, and on these grounds alone they don’t deserve to be taken seriously. Even so, a president has to be above the blame game played by his critics. The single best way to prove them wrong would be for Trump to crusade actively against white nationalism.
Trump should deliver a prime-time speech as soon as possible that names the evil at play here and denounces it. He has on Twitter rightly condemned the actions in El Paso. Now he needs to face the cameras, address the nation, and condemn the motivation. Trump needs to make clear that he hates white nationalism as something un-American and evil. And he ought not dilute this attack by talking again about “many” or “both” sides, by offering up nonconstructive criticisms of liberals which (intentionally or not) stoke racial tensions, or any other such distraction.
An evil and increasingly violent ideology threatens to inflict even deeper wounds to this country. President Trump has an opportunity — and yes, a duty — to name this evil and condemn it.