Ben McAdams went there. Well, partway there.
Utah’s 4th District representative, in issuing the obligatory tweet of sympathy after the weekend’s twin acts of mass violence, said, “We must unite as a country and work together right now to find solutions to combat domestic terrorism. We can start by denouncing white nationalism.”
My heart aches for the victims and their loved ones. Two American communities were attacked within 24 hours. We must unite as a country and work together right now to find solutions to combat domestic terrorism. We can start by denouncing white nationalism #utpol #dayton #elpaso— Rep. Ben McAdams (@RepBenMcAdams) August 4, 2019
It took Sen. Mitt Romney, thoughtful conservative that he is, a couple of runs at it before he got as far as McAdams.
His first tweet in response to the terrorist attack in El Paso asked, “From what dark and repugnant corner of the mind comes such senseless and vile brutality?”
Our hearts go out to the victims, families, and loved ones of the tragic shooting in El Paso. From what dark and repugnant corner of the mind comes such senseless and vile brutality?— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) August 3, 2019
To which, I thought, the proper reply was, “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe from the dark and repugnant head of your political party. (Geez, @MittRomney Think before you tweet.)”
My response was one of the kinder ones Romney received.
Though, on some reflection, his question was valid. And perhaps I should have given him more credit for teeing it up.
Kind of like the many Twitter comments he and other public officials get when they express sadness and frustration over mass shootings or some other big problem. When people reply to senators and congressmen and governors with something like, “Gee, if only you knew someone in a position of power who could actually DO SOMETHING about (whatever).”
Later, after the smaller attack in Dayton, Ohio. Romney issued a too-long-to-tweet statement that — way down toward the end — included the necessary understanding of what fresh hell this is.
“Vile acts and words of white supremacy have once again torn at the heart of the American spirit,” Romney’s three-paragraph statement concluded. "This cannot be met with silence from leaders of any kind. In our homes, churches, businesses and public places, we must testify that every person, regardless of race, religion, gender, national origin, and orientation is equal in the eyes of our Creator.”
The nation has witnessed senseless loss of life from recent mass shootings in El Paso, Dayton, and Gilroy. My statement: pic.twitter.com/3XhcfV3fmK— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) August 5, 2019
Monday morning, Rep. John Curtis joined in.
“We should all feel emboldened to condemn extremism within our own borders, to call out hate, and to take on the insidious influence of white supremacy with the same fervor we attack all other forms of terrorism,” Curtis said.
None of them went the extra step of laying the problem at the feet of the person who defiles the Oval Office every day.
But some other Democrats did. Most notably Beto O’Rourke, a native of El Paso, who took a diversion from his presidential campaign to say to the news media just the right words, when asked if he blamed the president of the United States for the latest act of white supremacist terrorism.
“What do you think? You know the s--- he’s been saying,” O’Rourke said. “He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don’t know, like, members of the press, what the f---?”
The president of the United States sought, acquired and seeks to hold power on a platform of bigotry and white supremacy. When you look at his speeches, his rallies, his record, his tweets, his Facebook ads, there can be no other conclusion.
It’s all he’s got. He has no trade policy. No tax policy. No national security policy. No basic understand of economic matters. No doctrines. No team of rivals. No kitchen cabinet of experts.
All he has is the love and adulation he soaks up at rallies and from the lying sacks of excrement on Fox News when he calls Mexicans rapists and drug dealers. When he describes major American cities as rat-infested. When he puts out more than 2,200 Facebook posts using words like “invasion,” “infestation" and “vermin” to describe immigrants and refugees. No recited speech that isn’t followed up by a real change in behavior and policy matters.
We need common sense gun laws — which, in civilized nations, include a ban on anything resembling an assault weapon. We need a Congress, especially a Senate, that was not bought and paid for by the National Rifle Association.
Mass shootings that rise from the hatred of a twisted individual didn’t start with the current administration and they won’t end with it.
But we as a nation can feel a little less guilty, be genuinely a bit less complicit, if we see how the problem is only going to get worse until the nation as a whole rejects its current chief executive and the Republican Party either ousts him, or goes down with him.
George Pyle is the editorial page editor of The Salt Lake Tribune.