The shooter who murdered 11 people in Pittsburgh on Saturday was motivated by a narrative pushed by Fox News and Trump allies that a caravan of people traveling through Mexico toward the U.S. border represented a potential “invasion” of the country.
On Wednesday — hours removed from visiting the synagogue where the shooting took place — the president made clear that he has no plans to stop pushing that narrative, despite the bloodshed it helped inspire 96 hours earlier.
“Our military is being mobilized at the Southern Border,” Trump tweeted. “Many more troops coming. We will NOT let these Caravans, which are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members, into the U.S. Our Border is sacred, must come in legally. TURN AROUND!”
Our military is being mobilized at the Southern Border. Many more troops coming. We will NOT let these Caravans, which are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members, into the U.S. Our Border is sacred, must come in legally. TURN AROUND!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2018
Trump posted that tweet minutes after one in which he described the caravan using language that is usually reserved for invading armies.
“The Caravans are made up of some very tough fighters and people. Fought back hard and viciously against Mexico at Northern Border before breaking through,” Trump tweeted, misleadingly, as the clashes he refers to in fact took place along Mexico’s southern border.
Saturday’s shooting and last week’s package bombs sent by an obsessed Trump fan to a number of the president’s prominent critics have put the president’s rhetoric under a microscope. But instead of toning things down, the president’s initial response to the arrest of the bombing suspect was to threaten to “tone it up.”
The “invasion” narrative originated with Fox News’ coverage of the caravan on October 16. As ThinkProgress detailed on Tuesday, since the shooting in Pittsburgh, Fox News contributors and guests have continued to use militaristic language to talk about the caravan, which in reality consists of impoverished people from countries like Nicaragua and Honduras making a dangerous journey north to escape desperate conditions in their homelands.
Most significantly, Trump himself called the caravan an “invasion” during an interview that aired on Monday evening’s edition of The Ingraham Angle.
“We’re being invaded,” Trump said. “When you look at that thousands of people… that’s called an invasion of our country.”
During the same interview, Trump denied any connection between his rhetoric and the bloodshed in Pittsburgh.
“This horrible human being, this terrible person that did the shooting is not a Donald Trump fan because he said I was too close to Israel,” Trump said, ignoring that the gunman used the same heated language he does to talk about the caravan.