Oct. 21 through Oct. 27 marked a bloody week in the United States. Both horrendous acts seen throughout the nation stemmed from the most nonviolent and intangible beginnings: Words.
These attacks were similar in that they both found their foundation in hate speech. The Pittsburgh synagogue shooting occurred after months of the shooter, Robert Bowers, posting racist comments on social media. Cesar Sayoc, who Twitter has deemed “the MAGA Bomber,” targeted primarily Democratic political figures, all of whom were the focus of Trump’s bullying at some point.
The Pittsburgh synagogue shooting found its roots on the social media site Gab, in which the shooter was able to discuss his hateful views amongst white supremacists, anti-Semitic bigots and other hate groups. Gab advertises itself as a “free speech alternative” to other social media sites and, according to HuffPost, Bowers was able to rant about immigrants and Jews on the site.
Earlier that same week, Sayoc was arrested for sending explosive devices to many prominent Democratic political figures and famous liberals. Fortunately, no one was injured in these attempts, but the mere act of sending these bombs is not the only troubling part.
Sayoc was undeniably emboldened by Trump’s name-calling and fear-mongering. This is clear just by looking at Sayoc’s van, which had its windows plastered with images of Trump’s enemies in cartoonish crosshairs and claiming that one of Trump’s least favorite media outlets, CNN, “sucks”. Many of the people with crosshairs photoshopped onto them were the same people he attempted to physically harm when he sent bombs to them. CNN also received a package from Sayoc.
His targets can all easily be labeled as Trump’s enemies. Needless to say, none of Trump’s political allies were the recipients of these explosive devices. Instead, people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who have been frequent targets of Trump’s hateful comments, received these packages. Anyone who Trump deemed a political enemy was made a target of potential violence by Sayoc.
It should not come as a surprise that these acts stemmed from hate speech. However, many are still surprised that these violent acts are being connected to hateful posts and the spread of divisive political rhetoric. These attempts to divide and create enemies have done just that and the true ugliness of this political divide has manifested itself through violence and death. The words of underground bigots and the rhetoric of the President of the United States have created the violent reality Americans now live every day.
Chloe Ruffennach is a sophomore studying strategic communications at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to reach at the College Democrats? Send them a tweet @OUCollegeDems.