Barack Obama appeared to take a thinly veiled jab at President Trump on Monday, calling on Americans to “soundly reject” any leader who “normalizes racist sentiments” in the wake of a horrific mass shooting in Texas.
The former president issued the rare rebuke in a statement released as authorities in the Lone Star State said the suspect in Saturday’s El Paso shooting likely posted a racist manifesto online that mirrored some of Trump’s rhetoric, including the claim that the U.S. is under “invasion” by Hispanic immigrants.
“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.
The 44th commander-in-chief said the El Paso shooter’s motives “may not yet be fully known,” but stressed that the massacre “follows a dangerous trend: Troubled individuals who embrace racist ideologies and see themselves obligated to act violently to preserve white supremacy.”
The suspect, 21-year-old Patrick Crucius, is believed to have posted a rambling and racist screed on the 8chan message board before storming into a Walmart with an AK-47 military-style rifle and killing at least 21 people and wounding dozens more. Many of the victims were Hispanic, and federal prosecutors are considering whether to charge Crucius with a hate crime.
Crucius’ alleged manifesto didn’t have any explicit references to Trump, but echoed some of the president’s most controversial statements.
“They are the instigators, not me,” the document says. “I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.”
Over Twitter and at campaign rallies, Trump frequently decries an “invasion” of undocumented immigrants.