Trump complains it's unfair that Barack Obama was not blamed for Charleston church shooting

The president's divisive rhetoric has been harshly scrutinized following a bombing campaign that targeted Democrats

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 30, 2018 11:19AM (EDT)

 (Getty/Ron Sachs/Joe Raedle/Photo montage by Salon)
(Getty/Ron Sachs/Joe Raedle/Photo montage by Salon)

President Donald Trump complained to one of his Fox News supporters, Laura Ingraham, about the fact that his rhetoric was being harshly scrutinized as a result of alleged pipe bomber Cesar Sayoc campaign against a number of liberal targets, even though President Barack Obama wasn't criticized after a 2015 racially-motivated church shooting in Charleston, S.C.

"I was in the headline of The Washington Post, my name associated with this crazy bomber. They didn’t do that with President Obama with the church, the horrible situation with the church — they didn’t do that," Trump told Ingraham on Monday.

The problem with this analogy, of course, is that the perpetrator of that mass shooting was Dylann Roof, an avowed white supremacist who brandished Confederate iconography and was no lover of Obama.

Trump then made a second point, one that at least worked slightly better as an analogy even if it still didn't fully hold up under analysis.

"Bernie Sanders had a fan who shot a very good friend of ours, Steve Scalise — and other people. He was a total maniac. Nobody puts his name in the headline — Bernie Sanders in the headline with the maniac," Trump told Ingraham.

While it is true that James Hodgkinson, the man who shot up a congressional baseball practice last year, was an avowed Sanders supporter, Sanders has never engaged in the kind of incendiary attacks against his right-wing critics that Trump has done against his left-wing opponents.

After Hodgkinson's shooting spree, Sanders said that "let me be as clear as I can be: Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society, and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values."

Sayoc is accused of having sent explosives through the mail to a number of prominent liberal targets including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, Rep. Maxine Waters of California, former CIA Director John Brennan, actor Robert De Niro and prominent billionaire activists George Soros and Tom Steyer.

Trump also defended his earlier use of the term "nationalism" at a rally for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, last week.

"It means I love the country. I look at two things: Globalists and nationalists," Trump told Ingraham. "I’m somebody who wants to take care of our country because for many, many years, our leaders — you know this better than anybody — our leaders have been more worried about the world than about the United States, and they leave us in a mess ‚ whether it’s the wars, whether it’s the economy, whether it’s debt, whether it’s all of the things that they’ve done, including putting in the wrong Supreme Court Justices and we’re — we’ve really put two great ones in."

During the Cruz rally, Trump had said that "a globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much. And you know what? We can't have that. You know, they have a word. It sort of became old-fashioned. It's called a nationalist. And I say, really, we're not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I'm a nationalist, OK? I'm a nationalist. ... Nationalist. Nothing — use that word. Use that word."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Barack Obama Cesar Sayoc Donald Trump Pipe Bombings White Nationalism