Why Donald Trump's Retweet of a Neo-Nazi Meme Is Even More Dangerous Than You Might Think
Months before 21-year-old Dylann Roof opened fire in South Carolina's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church and killed nine black churchgoers, he turned to Google.
Roof was searching for answers in the aftermath of George Zimmerman's fatal 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager. "I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was," he wrote in a manifesto that surfaced after the slayings. "It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right."
Buoyed by the belief that white American culture was under siege, Roof pressed further. "But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words 'black on White crime' into Google, and I have never been the same since that day."
Fast forward to Sunday, when Donald Trump, a leading GOP presidential candidate, retweeted an inaccurate and racially charged fact sheet on so-called "black on black crime."
Not only were the facts were flat out wrong, but the tweet was sourced back to neo-Nazi propaganda.
Eighty-one percent of white deaths are not perpetrated by black people. Both black and white people are more likely to be killed by someone of their own race, according to FBI crime statistics. But the scourge of police violence against black people is an altogether different problem, because it is state-sanctioned and those responsible for it are seldom held accountable. That's why the movement to end it has gained so much traction.
Trump, in characteristic fashion, hasn't made any apologies for promoting false information. "Am I gonna check every statistic?" he asked Bill O'Reilly in exasperation on Fox News. "All it was is a retweet."
Contrary to Trump's repeated rhetoric, the reason why has nothing to do with so-called "political correctness." The reason why has a name — many of them, in fact: Rev. Clementa Pickney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor, Ethel Lee Lance, Susie Jackson, Myra Thompson and Rev. Daniel Simmons.
On Monday night, when white gunmen were suspected of shooting and injuring five people at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis, more names were added to that list.
Trump has nearly 5 million followers on Twitter, and the image was favorited by more than 10,000 users. He's not an entertainer — he is an actual candidate for the nation's highest office. It's a platform that comes with a tremendous responsibility. In poll after poll, he's shown that he's a serious contender for the Republican Party's nomination for president, and, if elected, he'd have perhaps the world's biggest bully pulpit.
Checking every statistic, and admitting when you're wrong, isn't a courtesy, it's a job requirement — especially when amplifying the message of neo-Nazis could lead to more homegrown terrorism.
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