Amid the ongoing debate over whether there is an uprising of right-wing, white supremacy-related violence under President Trump, congressional Republicans have been directed to downplay reports about extremist-related murders by pushing anti-left propaganda.
A GOP memo obtained by The Tampa Bay Times falsely blames Democrats for the El Paso massacre and other notable mass shootings. The documents include talking points for congressional Republicans to recite when speaking with reporters or constituents about gun violence and domestic terrorism.
The memo serves as a script for how to respond to questions such as: “Do you believe white nationalism is driving more mass shootings recently?”
Republican lawmakers are advised to offer this response: “White nationalism and racism are pure evil and cannot be tolerated in any form. 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.”
The El Paso shooter, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, killed 22 people and targeted Hispanics. He reportedly penned a manifesto documenting his far right beliefs and how they align with Trump’s divisive rhetoric. The language reportedly echoes Trump’s characterizations of illegal immigration.
Rep. Gabby Giffords shooter had mixed political views and was primarily motived by his reported personal obsession with the Arizona Congresswoman. The May shooters at a Colorado high school — both bullied high schoolers — were also not known to be motivated by politics.
U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, included the GOP talking points in a newsletter that he emailed this week to his Florida constituents.
“We have sadly seen violence from ideological extremists on both sides and that is completely unacceptable and must be condemned,” said his spokeswoman Summer Robertson. “Congressman Bilirakis has always been clear that he denounces bigotry and hate speech, regardless of its source, including from white nationalists.”
In wake of the recent back-to-back shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, Republicans have faced mounting pressure from Democrats and victims of gun violence who are demanding Congress take action.
The GOP’s response has been to encourage Republican members of congress to lie about the facts and instead highlight incidents of “violence on the left,” which contradicts reports about the rise in hate crimes and white nationalism on the far-right.
The Anti-Defamation League noted on Twitter that “73.3% of U.S. extremist-related murders in the past decade were committed by right-wing extremists, including white supremacists.”