Remember this one the next time the GOP whines about politicizing tragedies.
The Tampa Bay Times reported today that it obtained a secret memo circulated among House Republicans with strategy on how to respond to the shootings in El Paso and Dayton. While the Times describes much of the memo and the suggested talking points as “boilerplate Republican arguments against tougher gun restrictions,” it also includes this bit:
But it also included this question: “Do you believe white nationalism is driving more mass shootings recently?” The suggested response is to steer the conversation away from white nationalism to an argument that implies both sides are to blame.
“White nationalism and racism are pure evil and cannot be tolerated in any form,” the document said. “We also can’t excuse violence from the left such as the El Paso shooter, the recent Colorado shooters, the Congressional baseball shooter, Congresswoman Giffords’ shooter and Antifa.”
Apart from the disgusting scumminess of, well, all of this, the El Paso shooter appears very much to be an animal of the right, considering he drove ten hours to a city on the Mexican border that’s majority Latinx, and targeted Latinx people at a Walmart, and echoed the language of white supremacy and Donald Trump and all of his Fox News favorites in his “manifesto.” (A spokesperson for the House Republicans told the paper that the inclusion of the El Paso shooter was a “mistake,” and they meant to include the Dayton shooter instead, as if that guy was driven by the politics of social justice to murder his transgender brother and eight other innocent people.)
Additionally, the only concrete thing we ever found out about the politics of Jared Loughner, the man who shot Gabby Giffords and murdered six people in 2011, was that he hated women, as did the Congressional baseball shooter. Not much of a surprise there. As for the Colorado shooters, the Times reports:
Nor does it seem that the May shooters at a Colorado high school — both teenagers and bullied students — were motivated by politics.
Finally, there is zero evidence of someone committing mass murder on behalf of antifa or with antifascist beliefs as a motivator, despite the fact that Republicans want to designate it as a domestic terror group. Just none whatsoever.
Despite this gross bullshit and the fact that most of it just isn’t true, the Times reports that Florida Republican Rep. Gus Bilirakis used these talking points in an email to constituents this week. His spokesperson told the Times that they were “provided by the House Republican Conference,” which is run by none other than our favorite liar and daughter of a war criminal, Liz Cheney. Cheney did not respond to the Times’ request for comment.
It’s pretty clear that all of this “both sides do it” bullshit is just a way to distract from the fact that right-wingers are the most frequent perpetrators of extremist attacks—the ADL found earlier this year that 50 people were killed last year by right-wing extremists, including the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh—and that conservatives have been all too happy to ignore it and make sure it stays out of the public’s view. It’s just a little jarring to see it put in such plain words.