WASHINGTON - Former President Barack Obama released a statement on Twitter Monday condemning the two weekend mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, pushing for tougher gun laws and urging the public to “soundly reject” language that “normalizes racist sentiments.”
“We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments; leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people,” Obama said.
He said “such language is not new.”
“It’s been at the root of most human tragedy throughout history, here in America and around the world,” he continued. “It is at the root of slavery and Jim Crow, the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. It has no place in our politics and our public life.”
“And it’s time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much — clearly and unequivocally,” the former president said.
Obama urged the public to “send a clarion call.”
“...and behave with the values of tolerance and diversity that should be the hallmark of our democracy,” he said.
Obama said that there are indications that the El Paso shooting follows “a dangerous trend.”
“Troubled individuals who embrace racist ideologies and see themselves obligated to act violently to preserve white supremacy,” he said. “Like the followers of ISIS and other foreign terrorist organizations, these individuals may act alone, but they’ve been radicalized by white nationalist websites that proliferate on the internet.”
Consequently, he suggested that law enforcement agencies and internet platforms need to come up with better strategies to reduce the influence of hate groups.
He also condemned the two shooting rampages, saying that he and former first lady Michelle Obama grieve for the families.
“Michelle and I grieve with all the families in El Paso and Dayton who endured these latest mass shootings,” Obama said. “Even if details are still emerging, there are few things we already know to be true.”
He went on to say that no other nation on Earth comes close to experiencing the frequency of mass shooting that the U.S. sees, adding that no other developed nation tolerates the levels of gun violence that the U.S. does.
Obama said evidence shows that tougher gun laws “can stop some killings.”
“They can save some families from heartbreak. We are not helpless here,” the former president said. “And until all of us can stand up and insist on holding public officials accountable for changing our gun laws, these tragedies will keep happening.”
This story was reported from Los Angeles.