John Oliver delivered a somber opening to Last Week Tonight on Sunday when he addressed the two mass shootings over the weekend that left 29 people dead. Within a 24-hour period, there was a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and a second, unrelated shooting that happened in a nightlife district of Dayton, Ohio.
Oliver addressed the importance of gun control, as he’s done in the past, but also acknowledged that when it comes to gun control, “everything has been said before.” “In fact, even pointing out "Everything's been said before," has been said before,” stated Oliver.
But it was the El Paso shooters anti immigrant manifesto that had Oliver calling out Trump specifically: “The El Paso shooting is currently being investigated as a hate crime. And the shooter's manifesto featured anti-immigrant language that may well be familiar to you from certain cable networks and certain presidents. And clearly, white nationalism and anti-immigrant hysteria did not start with this president. But he certainly seems to have created an environment where those kind of views can fester and, indeed, thrive.”
To emphasize his point, Oliver referenced a May Trump rally in the panhandle of Florida. At the rally, Trump showed the crowd footage of immigrants at the border and asked: “how do we stop these people?” To which someone in the crowd yelled: ‘shoot them.’ The president responded to the ‘shoot them’ comment from crowd by saying, “That's only in the panhandle you can get away with that statement.”
Oliver wasn’t the only one aligning Trump’s anti-immigrant language with the El Paso shooter. Democratic candidate, and former Texas State Representative, Beto O’Rourke blamed Trump for the way he ‘stokes racism.’ And other Democratic presidential candidates like Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, and Julian Castro echoed a similar sentiment across Twitter.
One of the lessons in my faith is that you reap what you sow.— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) August 4, 2019
When Donald Trump uses words like “infestation,” “invasion” and “shithole countries”—
When he refuses to condemn Neo-Nazis and white supremacists—
Trump is giving license to this kind of violence. He’s responsible. pic.twitter.com/hf3ugZIO5D
We need to call out white nationalism for what it is—domestic terrorism. It is a threat to the United States, and we've seen its devastating toll this weekend. And we need to call out the president himself for advancing racism and white supremacy. pic.twitter.com/pdE9CAiQqx— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 4, 2019
When Donald Trump fans the flames of hate and division, there are real consequences.— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) August 4, 2019
Tragedies like the El Paso shooting are preventable, and also sadly the result of mixing high powered weapons of war with uncontested bigotry.
Last Week Tonight airs Sundays at 11 p.m. on HBO.
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