Grant Stinchfield, a former host of NRATV, the defunct online media arm of the National Rifle Association, said his “heart aches” for the victims of El Paso, but he accused the news media and Democrats of unfairly blaming Mr. Trump for a crime committed by a “disgusting, deranged human being.”
“Evil has existed since the beginning of time,” Mr. Stinchfield said. “To blame the president or any other conservative on the actions of a deranged lunatic is insane and flat-out disgusting. The problem with liberals today is they do not want to take responsibility for anything. They will blame everyone but the shooter.”
Kris Kobach, the former secretary of state in Kansas and an immigration hard-liner who is close to Mr. Trump, said Democrats were being outrageous. “They are trying to exploit this horrific tragedy to attack the president and push an open-borders agenda and push gun control,” he said. “It’s not only incorrect, it’s improper to do this at a time when people are still grieving.”
Dark, anti-immigrant language has flavored American politics for generations. Politicians in the 1880s and 1920s rose to power by seizing on fears of Italians, Japanese, Chinese and other immigrants, stoking fears about the loss of the “American identity.”
In more recent years, those who trafficked in racist conspiracies and warned that immigrants were a threat to the safety and economic well-being of native-born Americans were largely ignored by the bipartisan establishment even as they gave voice to the views of many Americans who felt disenfranchised.
But Mr. Trump embraced racist conspiracies for years: He was among the leading voices who pushed the “birtherism” lie claiming that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. And since his campaign for the presidency, Mr. Trump has taken those views to the center of American politics. He denounces immigrant gang members as “animals” and complains that unauthorized migrants “pour into and infest” the United States. Illegal immigration is a “monstrosity,” he says, while demanding that even American-born congresswomen of color “go back” to their home countries.
He uses the word “aliens” to refer to immigrants long after it was deemed dehumanizing even by other Republicans. And his language about immigration is suffused in anger: In El Paso earlier this year, he demanded that Democrats help him “deport criminal aliens and keep the coyotes and traffickers and drug dealers the hell out of our country.”