Democrats blaming President Trump for last weekend’s mass shootings saw their argument continue to unravel Tuesday as more details emerged indicating that the suspected gunmen held some avowedly left-wing views.
Connor Betts, the 24-year-old killer in the deadly shooting in Dayton, Ohio, expressed pro-antifa, pro-socialist and anti-ICE positions on a now-suspended Twitter account believed to be his, as well as support for Democratic Sens. Bernard Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Tuesday she was “hopping mad” that media outlets have given “scant coverage” to the Dayton suspect’s leftist beliefs while reporting heavily on Democrats accusing Mr. Trump of stoking the El Paso massacre with his border-security broadsides.
“The president did not respond in kind. They politicized this over the weekend. They all blamed him, and I want to name and shame them now, because he did not respond in kind,” said Ms. Conway on “Fox & Friends.”
They include former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who said Mr. Trump “helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible,” referring to the El Paso shooting that left 22 dead.
Kellyanne Conway is “hopping mad” that nobody is discussing the Dayton shooter’s apparent support for Elizabeth Warren, and attacks her for “raising money [by] talking about the mass shooting.” pic.twitter.com/6Al2pYWyzS— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) August 6, 2019
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, said at a Monday rally that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric was “directly responsible for what happened in El Paso,” according to the New York Daily News, prompting conservatives to point out that the congresswoman may have inspired a recent attack.
An armed antifa protester was killed by police earlier this month as he tried to bomb an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Tacoma, Washington, after posting a manifesto in which he used her “concentration camps” dig at border detention centers four times.
“Based on her own standard, which I reject, she is ‘directly responsible’ for a violent armed attack,” said Townhall’s Guy Benson. “Will she accept blame? Will she turn herself in to authorities?”
The El Paso suspect, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, is believed to have authored a 2,300-word manifesto saying he was motivated by the “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” criticizing “race mixing,” and warning of “cultural and ethnic replacement.”
Along with such white-nationalist stances, however, are positions that would fit in with the agenda of the climate-change movement, including blasts at corporations, consumerism and environmental degradation.
“[O]ur lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country,” said the document. “The decimation of the environment is creating a massive burden for future generations. Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly overharvesting resources.”
The manifesto went on to say that “water is being polluted from farming and oil drilling operations” and consumption is “creating thousands of tons of unnecessary plastic waste and electronic waste, and recycling to help slow this down is almost non-existent.”
The “next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources,” said the document.
Craig Rucker, president of the free-market group CFACT, called out 2020 Democratic presidential contenders for being “quick to take cheap shots at the President for supposedly fueling this gunman’s bigotry.”
“[W]hat’s particularly irksome in this case is that if these presidential candidates are going to point fingers, then [they] ought to be very careful it doesn’t come back on them,” Mr. Rucker said in a statement. “That’s because this so-called manifesto does not just point to anti-immigration as a motivating factor, but also deep green ecology.”
He said other mass shooters have also sounded “eco-terrorist” themes, including the gunman who killed 51 worshipers in March at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the 2011 Norway attacker who killed 77, both of whom also railed against immigration.
“What then, should we point the blame of this attack and others on the fearmongering of liberal politicians on subjects like climate change, overpopulation and resource depletion?” Mr. Rucker asked. “No, and we won’t, because these are the rantings of a madman, and tragedy is not the time to score political points.”
Indeed, mass shooters aren’t known for their coherent political philosophies. The Dayton suspect, for example, had expressed support for gun control and was “actually anti-Second Amendment,” a former classmate told the Dayton Daily News.
Those who study the phenomenon say that the lone-wolf gunmen who open fire at schools and other public areas are often attracted to extremist views, but that their motivations go beyond politics. They may seek infamy. They may want revenge for perceived slights.
Adam Lankford, University of Alabama criminology professor, said shooters are often “looking for someone to blame so they can latch onto an existing narrative,” and if one ideology falls through, “they may just keep looking.”
“For example, both the shooters from this past weekend who clearly expressed ideas on very different parts of the spectrum — if they hadn’t latched onto those specific things, they may have latched onto something else,” said Mr. Lankford, adding, “They’ll find a reason to justify it.”
That may be in keeping with the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter, who “appeared to have an interest in varying, competing, violent ideologies,” said FBI special agent in charge John F. Bennett at a Tuesday press conference.
The FBI has opened a full domestic terrorism investigation into the suspect, 19-year-old Santino William Legan, who killed two children and an adult before turning his weapon on himself after being confronted by three officers.
The El Paso suspect has been charged with capital murder, while the Dayton suspect was shot and killed by police after a massacre that left nine dead, including his sister, at an entertainment district.
Mr. Lankford pointed out that the overwhelming majority of those who hold fringe views don’t open fire at strangers.
“It’s hard to say that ideology is precisely the cause,” he said. “Pick someone with this ideology at random, and the odds that they’re going to commit an act of violence like this is one in a million.”
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