Over the past several years, numerous police killings of unarmed black men have fueled a growing outrage that ultimately gave birth to the Black Lives Matter movement. This week, a lone gunman used that movement as a platform to shoot 12 police officers in Dallas, killing five of them and, in turn, altering the conversation around the relationship between people of color and cops.
Apparently, now is time for a group of older, white, conservative men to be outraged. And through various media platforms, they are almost unanimously laying the blame for the Dallas officers’ deaths at the feet of all Black Lives Matter protesters.
There have been some prominent exceptions on the right—Newt Gingrich acknowledging that whites will never understand systematic racism is a good example, and one that could remove him from Donald Trump’s running mate short list. But for the most part, the reactions have been one ugly comment after the next. Below is the rundown of what’s been said, less than 24 hours after the incident occurred.
TheBlaze’s Tomi Lahren
First out of the gate with a since-deleted tweet was TheBlaze host Tomi Lahren, who quickly compared Black Lives Matter to the Ku Klux Klan. While she later thought better of that message, Lahren has continued to push the #BlueLivesMatter hashtag into Friday. “We should be coming together not splintering apart,” she tweeted later. But doesn’t calling protesters “the new KKK” encourage just the opposite?
Rep. Steve King (R-IA)
Iowa representative and Donald Trump supporter Steve King was sending “hearts and prayers” to the victims last night, but by this morning, his tone had changed. With the tweet below, King connected the Dallas shooting to the “beer summit” President Obama held at the White House after Sgt. James Crowley improperly arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., who was trying to enter his own home and forgot his keys.
Rep. Roger Williams (R-MS)
In a statement Friday morning, Republican Congressman Roger Williams blamed Obama even more directly, attributing the shooting to the "spread of misinformation and constant instigation by prominent leaders, including our president.” He went to say that that Obama “contributed to the modern day hostility we are witnessing between the police and those they serve. As a result, today we are seeing one of the noblest professions condemned by those who could benefit the most.”
Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL)
Another since-deleted tweet belongs to former Illinois congressman and avid social media provocateur Joe Walsh, who decided last night was the right time to declare “war” on Obama and Black Lives Matter, telling the president of the United States to “watch out” and that “real America” was coming for him. A more recent tweet calls Obama “silly, stupid [and] dangerous” for focusing on guns in the shooting’s aftermath.
During an appearance on MSNBC Friday afternoon, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Brian Williams that Black Lives Matter protesters put a “target on police officers’ backs” because they “make it seem like all police are against blacks.”
“They’re not,” he continued. “They’re the ones saving black lives. Black Lives Matter are not saving black lives. It’s the police officers doing it.”
Fox News’ Todd Starnes
The always reliably aggrieved Todd Starnes has a column on FoxNews.com Friday that leads off with the headline, “The ‘Pigs in a Blanket’ crowd got what they wanted.” The Christian conservative radio host is referring to a video that went viral last year of Black Lives Matter protesters in Minnesota chanting, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon” at cops.
After hyperbolically warning readers that what he’s about to say is “politically incorrect,” Starnes affirms that “All Lives Matter.” But that is by no means the most offensive part of his piece. Quoting the admittedly outrageous chants from a handful of protesters on isolated occasions, Starnes paints them with the widest of brushes. “In New York City, protesters once shouted, “What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want them? Now,’” he writes. “On July 7th in Dallas, Texas—they got their wish.”
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick
Even worse than Starnes were comments made by the second-highest ranking elected official in the state of Texas. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said on Fox News Friday afternoon that he not only blames Black Lives Matter for the deaths of the police officers, but views them as “hypocrites” for running from the sniper’s bullets.
“All those protesters last night, they ran the other way, expecting the men and women in blue to turn around and protect them. What hypocrites!” Patrick said, without any pushback from the Fox hosts to whom he was speaking.
And then there is Trump. The new standard bearer of the Republican Party released an uncharacteristically measured statement on Friday morning, calling for “love and compassion” along with “strong leadership” in the wake of the shooting.
While the GOP presidential candidate does mention the two black men who lost their lives by police gunfire and prompted the latest round of Black Lives Matter protests this week, he makes a point to not use their names, referring to them only as “two motorists.”
He does however, as highlighted by Aaron Blake in the Washington Post, call their deaths “senseless,” a descriptor that seems to be riling up his supporters who think that means he is taking the side of Black Lives Matter. That would undoubtedly come as a surprise to Donald Trump.