By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –
In an interview with Bill O’Reilly airing Sunday afternoon, O’Reilly observes of Russian President Vladimir Putin:
“He’s a killer, though. Putin’s a killer.”
TRUMP: “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?”
As The Guardian points out, this exchange is reminiscent of one in summer of 2015 between Joe Scarborough and Trump about Putin:
“MSNBC host Joe Scarborough: “He kills journalists that don’t agree with him.”
TRUMP: “Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing, too, Joe.”
At other times, Trump has said there is no proof that Putin killed anyone.
I don’t have any way of knowing if Mr. Putin has ordered anyone to be rubbed out. It is pretty obvious that he has bullied Russia’s journalists into sullen submission or had them fired, and that some 26 have been killed since he came to power. The Russian Federation does not have a free press, and Putin played a role in derailing any movement in that more liberal direction.
However, I would like to point out that we do know who murders in the United States.
There is for instance, Dylann Roof , who murdered 9 Americans, including a sitting state senator. Roof was a big fan of of white supremacist and far right web sites of the sort promoted by Trump’s Rasputin, the alt-Neo-Nazi Steve Bannon, former CEO of Breitbart.
When then South Carolina governor Nikki Haley was shamed by Roof’s massacre into finally removing the confederate flag from the state capitol, a flag that stood for resistance to the abolition of slavery, Bannon wrote the headline, “”Hoist it high and proud: The Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage.”
Or there is William Sims, a talented young African-American musician in the Bay Area, snuffed out at the age of 28 just last November by . . . you guessed it, white supremacists.
As for journalists, we should never forget Alan Berg, the liberal radio commentator in Denver shot down in his driveway by The Order, “a splinter group of the Aryan Nation white nationalist movement that financed its anti-government goals with bank robberies in the Pacific Northwest.” Cute.
Guess who today’s white supremacists supported for president?
Let us also not forget Paul Guihard, a French reporter for AFP shot in the back at close range during a segregationist riot against the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi on September 30, 1962.
And if we reach back to the nineteenth century, there was Elijah Parish Lovejoy, an an abolitionist editor in Alton, IL, who was killed in 1837 by a white supremacist mob that favored introducing slavery in the north.
So yes, Mr. Trump, we’ve got a lot of killers and our country’s not so innocent.
You’re not so innocent, either, since you went out of your way to cultivate the groups out of which those killers emerged as one of your electoral constituencies. And you’ve got a man who tried to make them respectable there with you in the White House.