Two days after the Pittsburgh shooting, and in the wake of a racist shooting in Kentucky and the pipe bomb mailings, I remain profoundly sad, angry and determined.
Sad for the lives lost and for the families that will forever, for all of their lives, have to grapple with the tragedies. And so sad for our country that such things could happen.
Of course, racist violence is nothing new in America, but that does not make these incidents any less heartbreaking and sickening.
Angry, because as is painfully apparent, these are not random acts of violence.
We’ll never know what internal demons speak to someone who shoots and kills 11 people in a synagogue, or who sends explosives by mail to prominent political figures who he finds objectionable, or who opens fire on people in a grocery store.
But we do know what external voices are speaking to these individuals.
We know the social environment in which they live.
Let’s be very clear: This is not about a problem of polarization on “both sides.”
This is about the increasing extremism on the right.
It’s about the rampant racism on social media, the conspiracies of Alex Jones and the zealotry of Fox News.
But above all — far above all — it is about President Trump.
It is the president who more than anyone sets the tone of our political culture.
This President of the United States routinely spews not just nasty and uncivil remarks, but engages in racist, anti-immigrant and hateful speech, embraces conspiracy theories, many with anti-Semitic overtones, and winks and nods at — and sometimes overtly encourages — political violence.
The horrible truth is, I’m surprised we haven’t experienced more political violence under Trump.
I know you share my grief and outrage.
I hope you also share my determination.
Donald Trump does not get to define who we are as a people.
Our retort to Trumpian proto-fascism must be love and solidarity.
Each and every one of us, in every circumstance in which we encounter it, must confront and denounce anti-Semitism, racism, anti-immigrant “nationalism,” sexism and homophobia.
There are no “others.”
We need to show that, as a society, we care about, and take care of, every human being.
Everybody counts, and no one gets left behind.
We need also to recognize the teaching of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Power without love is reckless and abusive and love without power is sentimental and anemic.”
We must evidence that love and solidarity not just in words but policies and priorities that show we value everyone.
Trump draws his political strength and bases his appeal not just on deep reservoirs of racism, but on a profound sense of grievance and alienation.
For many, the attraction of Trump is that he rejects the trappings of a system they believe, rightfully, is rigged to benefit elite insiders.
Trump validates the sense of alienation among his more rabid followers by calling the system rigged — using our word — evidencing his disdain for accepted norms and protocols.
And he redirects their anger away from the forces and institutions that are actually disrupting communities, directing it instead to scapegoat vulnerable communities.
In response, we need to explain, again and again, how Trump is governing by corruption, and enriching and empowering the plutocratic class.
But even more, we have to advocate, demonstrate real commitment to, and ultimately win policies to cure the rigged system and offset the nation’s historic and obscene wealth, income and power inequality.
We must build vibrant, growing social movements to displace Trump’s right-wing demagoguery by building the power to win an aggressive, progressive agenda.
We have to continue to come together to figure this out together.
We have to continue to take care of each other.
I know we will.
Thank you for everything you do for a better and kinder America, and a better and kinder world.
With love and determination,
President, Public Citizen
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