Former white supremacist calls on Trump to stop using fear to motivate people

A former white supremacist turned anti-hate activist is calling on the Trump administration to stop using fear to motivate people following a pair of mass shootings that shocked the nation over the weekend, saying the rhetoric is similar to that used among white nationalists.

“What’s really important for the government to do, first of all, is to stop espousing rhetoric that strikes chords with people who are afraid of immigrants,” Arno Michaelis said in an appearance on Hill.TV on Tuesday.

“It’s a really bad policy to use fear to motivate people, to try to get policy passed,” Michaelis continued. “I don’t think we want to be a society that’s driven by fear and when there’s constant talk of our country being ‘invaded’ — and even the word ‘infested’ has been used — those are word-for-word what [was] in the manifesto of this El Paso shooter.”

"There has to be some responsibility in that regard," he added. 

Michaelis said the government also needs to start taking firearms more seriously, saying there needs to be some federal laws in place to "stop people who are unbalanced from obtaining assault rifles." 

More than 30 people have died as a result of this weekend's mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

Following the shootings, President TrumpDonald TrumpVirginia GOP gubernatorial nominee acknowledges Biden was 'legitimately' elected Biden meets with DACA recipients on immigration reform Overnight Health Care: States begin lifting mask mandates after new CDC guidance | Walmart, Trader Joe's will no longer require customers to wear masks | CDC finds Pfizer, Moderna vaccines 94 percent effective in health workers MORE called on the nation to condemn white nationalism and used a 10-minute address on Monday to call for action against “mental illness and hatred.” He also said he was in favor of capital punishment for mass shooters and maintained that guns are not the problem. 

“In one voice, our nation must condemn bigotry, hatred and white supremacy,” Trump said in a nationally televised address from the White House. "These sinister ideologies must be defeated.”

However, Trump’s own rhetoric has come under renewed scrutiny following the weekend rampages, which took place less than 24 hours apart.

The El Paso shooter allegedly wrote a white nationalist manifesto ahead of his attack at a local Walmart warning of a Latino “invasion.” Federal authorities are now considering whether to charge him with hate crimes.

Trump has also used the word “invasion” when talking about immigrants coming through the U.S. southern border, and many Democrats have pointed to the president’s rhetoric as encouraging such violence.

“He is a racist, and he stokes racism in this country,” former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a presidential candidate who previously represented El Paso in Congress, said of Trump a day after the shooting.

Even though some local officials have said that the president is not welcome, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo (R) announced Monday evening that Trump will visit the city on Wednesday.

Trump also plans to visit Dayton, Ohio the same day.

— Tess Bonn