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Beto O’Rourke has a message for the press: Stop asking if the president is racist; you know the answer is yes.
In the wake of Saturday’s mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart that left 20 people dead and 26 injured, on Sunday, O’Rourke returned to his hometown for See The Voice, Be The Change Vigil and Action, which was streamed on Periscope.
There the Democratic presidential candidate delivered an emotional speech about the tragedy, racism, hate, and gun violence in the United States.
Afterwards, a reporter asked him if President Donald Trump is racist.
“What do you think? You know the shit he’s been saying. He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don’t know—like, members of the press, what the fuck?” O’Rourke said, visibly agitated.
“Hold on a second. You know, it’s these questions that you know the answers to. I mean, connect the dots about what he’s been doing in this country.”
“He’s not tolerating racism. He is promoting racism. He’s not tolerating violence. He’s inciting racism and violence in this country. I just—I don’t know what kind of question that is.”
Beto is all of us right now. pic.twitter.com/5yjnibrxcB— Matt Rogers 🎙 (@Politidope) August 5, 2019
Later, on Twitter, O’Rourke stood by his comments, writing, “We know what Trump is doing. He stokes racism. He incites violence. We shouldn’t be asking if there’s anything he can do or if he’s responsible for this when we know the answer. I stand by what I said.”
This morning, after Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough lambasted Republicans for refusing to call out Trump, O’Rourke elaborated further on his statements about the press.
“I do think that this extends to much of the media in this country,” he said. “I mean, the president has not been shy. He’s not been saying this behind closed doors. This is out in the open. All people of one religion, inherently defective and should be banned from the shores of this country.
“The only modern western democracy that said anything close to this that I can think of is the Third Reich, Nazi Germany. Talking about human beings talking about them as subhuman, to make it okay to put their kids in cages.”
“Anyone who is surprised is part of this problem right now,” O’Rourke continued. “Including members of the media who ask, ‘Hey, Beto, do you think the president is racist?’ Well, Jesus Christ, of course he’s racist!
“He’s been racist from day one—before day one, when he was questioning whether Barack Obama was born in the United States. He’s trafficked in this stuff from the very beginning.”
O’Rourke isn’t the only one pointing a finger at the media in light of the attack; this morning, Donald Trump blamed the press.
The two don’t see things the same way, however. O’Rourke thinks the press should call Trump’s racism what it is; Trump thinks the press should be nice to him.
“The Media has a big responsibility to life and safety in our Country. Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years. News coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!” Trump tweeted.
The president has been under intense scrutiny over the El Paso shooting. Many believe his rhetoric is to blame for fanning the flames of racial tension and white resentment of minorities.
In a speech this morning from the White House, Trump said that “white supremacy” must be condemned in the fullest.
The shooting was allegedly perpetuated by Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old white man who, 19 minutes before the shooting, is believed to have posted a racist, anti-immigrant screed on 8chan.
“This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” the text stated.
The president has repeatedly referred to Latin American immigrants as invaders. Trump has also been widely criticized for using racially derogatory language towards Black people, Muslims, Hispanics, and congresswomen of color.
Based on the weight of the evidence, O’Rourke believes that it’s time to stop asking whether Trump is a racist.
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Claire Goforth is a Jacksonville, Florida-based journalist covering politics, culture, justice, and unicorns. Her work has appeared in publications ranging from regional alt-weeklies to Al Jazeera.