Chris Matthews Suggests Connection Between Trump’s Migrant Caravan Rhetoric, Synagogue Shooting

• October 30, 2018 10:19 am


MSNBC host Chris Matthews suggested Monday night that the link between President Donald Trump and Saturday’s synagogue shooting need not be explicit to exist.

During the closing minutes of "Hardball," Matthews, speaking into the camera, argued that, though there is no definitive proof of Trump’s responsibility, his rhetoric may have influenced a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. In particular, he linked Trump’s critical comments about the migrant "caravan," a group of thousands moving through Mexico, to the gunman’s decision to murder Jews.

On Saturday, the Dor Hadash congregation's weekly Shabbat services were just getting underway at Tree of Life synagogue when a gunman opened fire and killed 11 congregants. The gunman yelled out "all Jews must die" during the attack, according to officials. He had previously criticized Trump for his publicly warm relationship with American Jews.

Trump strongly condemned the shooting as an "assault on humanity" and anti-Semitism in America as "evil." He plans to visit the grieving Jewish community in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood on Tuesday.

During his closing segment Monday, Matthews recounted a stranger who urged him to "think about the St. Louis," the refugee-laden ship refused safe harbor in 1939 by Cuba, the United States, and Canada. The ship returned to Germany, after which 254 of the ship’s passengers died in the Holocaust. Matthews said the stranger did not need to explain he was invoking the St. Louis in reference to the thousands of Latin Americans traveling in a caravan towards the U.S.-Mexico border. "He didn't have to make a connection," Matthews said. "It was clear."

"It's about turning away people in need, treating strangers as if they're enemies, not welcoming them but repelling them," Matthews said.

Likewise, Matthews argued, Trump’s comments about the caravan said enough on their own. He suggested a potential link between Trump's stance on Honduran migrants and the synagogue shooter's rhetoric and action against Jews. He specifically pointed to the shooter saying the "Jewish people were aiding ‘invaders.'"

In his final post before the shooting, the suspected gunman blamed the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society for the migration, and decided he was "going in."

Matthews recognized that "no one can safely assert a connection" between the president’s comments about migration and the gunman’s decision to murder Jews, "but then who can say there was no connection?"

Matthews’s full comments:

I have been struck in recent days, long before the horror of this weekend in Pittsburgh, by how Jewish people have been affected by the negative attitudes towards immigration. One man confronted me in an airport last week and demanded that i think about the St. Louis, that ship carrying over 900 jewish refugees that was refused admission here in the united states in 1939 on the eve of WWII. that man who stopped me didn't say there was a connection between the Holocaust and the migrants coming north from Honduras, that President Trump warns of so vociferously and so obsessively. He didn't have to make a connection. It was clear. 

It's about turning away people in need, treating strangers as if they're enemies, not welcoming them but repelling them. So much of life is about a simple choice between two words: yes or no. That man who shot the 11 people on Saturday in Pittsburgh would say ‘no’ to their very existence. ‘No’ to the very people being instructed by their faith to say ‘yes.’ 

No one can safely assert a connection between the preaching of an American president against migrants of Central America and Saturday's killings by a man who spoke maniacally of how Jewish people were aiding "invaders." That was his word. But then who can say there was no connection? And that's "Hardball" for now. Thanks for being with us. 

Published under: Anti-Semitism, Donald Trump