Dear Mr. President: get your terms straight

Yes, Mr. President. Time for some precise language.

“Two days ago,” you said on Monday, referring to last Saturday’s riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, “a young American woman, Heather Heyer, was tragically killed.”

But in 2015, Kathryn Michelle Steinle, whom you labeled “beautiful Kate in San Francisco” was shot to death by a Mexican immigrant whom you quickly labeled an “animal.”

Why was the death in Charlottesville tragic and that in San Francisco an animalistic murder? Isn’t the truth that last Saturday Ms. Heyer wasn’t merely “killed” but was run down by a deranged bigot who had spent a lifetime cultivating an admiration for Hitler and a belief in white supremacy? If the death of Ms. Steinle in 2015 was an animalistic act, how is the brutal death of Ms. Heyer, who incidentally opposed your core beliefs, any different?

The answer, I’m afraid, further underscores your cynicism and callousness.

In 2015 when you were just another face in the ranks of Republican hopefuls, the story of Kate Steinle’s murder provided a rallying point, the inception of a xenophobic nationalistic policy that would carry you through the primaries and into the White House. No position unified your base more than the promise to keep Mexican murderers and rapists out of this country, and no single incident defined that position more than the murder of Ms. Steinle. She became merely a branding opportunity for you, sir, nothing more.

Now, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate did indeed shoot Kathryn Steinle. Of course your buddy, former Fox News mainstay Bill O’Reilly, pushed the story hard, claimed that President Obama was complicit in her death, even urged Congress to pass “Kate’s Law,” which would impose a five-year prison sentence on anyone recrossing the border. Zarate claims the shooting was accidental, that he found the gun and that it misfired. He will be tried for second-degree murder, but most experts feel it may end up as manslaughter. Either way, he will be in prison for a long time.

But James Alex Fields, with deliberate malice, drove his car into a crowd of people and killed Heather Heyer—whom you could have labeled “beautiful Heather from Charlottesburg” but didn’t. Why didn’t you? Mr. Fields, whether murderer or terrorist, deserves the same opprobrium from you that Zarate suffered when he also murdered a young white woman. Instead you diluted Fields’ guilt by claiming many were to blame on all sides. No, sir, only he is to blame for that woman’s death—he and the hatred that you continue to engender and wink at for fear that your ignorant base will abandon you.

If only you understood irony you would marvel at the fact that the death of a young innocent propelled you into the presidency, and the death of another innocent may propel you out. You, sir, are complicit in the death of Heather Heyer, and although you take responsibility for nothing and understand neither shame nor mortification, the rest of us do. Americans who believe in the Constitution far outnumber the Nazi torch-bearers who would write their own.

Something to think about as your presidency comes to an inglorious end.

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