MSNBC Interviews Schanzer on Trump-Inspired Terrorism

MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell interviewed David Schanzer to discuss Trump-Inspired terrorism.

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Full Transcript:

O`DONNELL: In an essay for “The Guardian” entitled “We must call the El Paso shooting it is: Trump inspired terrorism.” Professor David Schanzer writes:

“While Trump does not overtly call for his supporters to use violence to further his agenda, his rhetoric is infused with notions of violence and dehumanization. These messages are not lost on people like the El Paso shooter. Your President shares your view, that immigrants and racial minorities are our scourge on America. They are not deserving of the privileges of citizenship and must be denied political power at all costs. They are animals anyway, so the use of violence is permissible. We remain 15 months from the 2020 election. It is staggering to imagine how much more violence this President may motivate if he continues down this deeply disturbing path.”

Joining our discussion now is Professor David Schanzer. He is the Director of Duke University`s Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security.

Professor, establish for us what you see as the link between Donald Trump`s rhetoric, Donald Trump`s hate speech and what happened in El Paso.

Lawrence the way terrorism works, there are a lot of angry people, there are a lot of ideologically motivated people out there. But it takes the a piling on of grievance, a exacerbation of grievance and also a dehumanization of the enemy in order to take somebody who is angry and politicized and have that mobilized and cross that threshold to violence.

And I think that`s what we seen, especially in the last couple months with this drumming – beating the drum on this whole issue of invasion, but also the comments about the four members of congress of color, and the rats and the vermin. All of those things are part and parcel of what brings somebody from just being a highly politicized ideological person to a violent person.

O`DONNELL: And you make the point in your essay about the language of the mass murder in Pittsburgh at the synagogue, the language of the mass murder in El Paso, being Trump language. This desperate fear they have about what they call this invasion at the southern border.

SCHANZER: It`s the whole series of these grievances that triggers these very deep emotions in people. They say that the immigrants are going to harm them economically. He says they`re going to take away their security, that they`re all criminals, rapists. And then he talks about they`re coming into the country. They`re going to vote me out of office. They`re going to do all these things to me, and you`re going to be under a different rule. You`re going to be under minority rule. So they`re taking away their political power.

So he piles on one set of grievance after the other. And these are – this is what highly ideological terrorist organizations do to motivate their followers to violence.

O`DONNELL: You make the point that what – how much more of this kind of violence might we see in the next 15 months of the presidential campaign. And you say if the president continues with this kind of rhetoric, it`s hard to imagine the President using any other kind of rhetoric. This is what he`s been using since the day he announced his candidacy.

SCHANZER: Well, you`re right about that. I mean, I would certainly plea to him to turn back. He announced his campaign – started his campaign in July, and here we are in august, and this has happened.

I don`t think the country can take 15 months of that kind of heightened highly politicized, highly racialized rhetoric and still keep our social fabric together. So I`m desperately hopeful that he`ll find it to be not in his political advantage to do that anymore. And those who are contesting him, whether they be candidates or people, the public, need to continue to speak out and call him on that, because this is the inevitable result.

O`DONNELL: Greg Miller, a National Security Correspondent for Washington Post tweeted today that “There is deep concern among national security officials/experts that Trump not only incites the far right with his words and policies, but impedes the government`s ability to respond.”

You`ve worked on the Homeland Security Committee and the House of Representatives – high ranking staffer on that Committee. Do you see that in the Trump statements that they actually not – don`t just incite people, but they actually get in the way of the government trying to deal with this?

SCHANZER: Well, I have a lot of faith in the integrity of the FBI that they`re going to follow the facts and the evidence where they go. The question is resources. And some of your prior guests spoke to that. If you don`t have the resources and your people aren`t allocated to work on these issues, then you`re just not going to be looking at the intelligence, gathering the information, following the leads with as much vigor.

So it`s the government that allocates the resources, even the Congress can`t really do that so much internally. It`s really a FBI function, and it`s very, very possible that because of Trump`s inclinations it`s the resources that aren`t being dedicated to this problem that really need to be.

O`DONNELL: Duke University Professor David Schanzer gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Professor.

SCHANZER: Thanks you for having me.