Last Friday (26 October), the FBI surrounded a Trump sticker-adorned van (pictured) and arrested Cesar Sayoc Jr., the man who mailed at least 13 pipe bombs to the homes and offices of prominent critics of U.S. President Donald Trump. He has since been dubbed the “MAGAbomber” after Trump’s mantra of “Make America Great Again”.
The first bomb was mailed to George Soros, a wealthy liberal political donor and target of various right-wing conspiracy theories. The other bombs were discovered throughout the week, having been delivered to former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, former Vice-President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other Democrat-leaning political figures. Fortunately, all the explosives were intercepted before they could detonate.
Sayoc, a convicted felon and fervent right-wing extremist, had posted racists memes and sent abusive messages to his left-leaning critics on Twitter. His former boss also revealed that Sayoc had kept disembodied dolls in his van, and verbalised his desire to “eradicate the Jews” and “these gays or these blacks”. He now faces up to 48 years in prison for the crime.
A good week for extremism
In the same week, a black man and woman were killed in a racially motivated shooting at a grocery store in Kentucky, and 11 people were killed in a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, the perpetrator shouting “All Jews must die!” before the slaughter. With a double whammy of terror and grief bombarding the country, all eyes were on the nation’s leaders to guide them through the storm. However, Trump responded to the domestic terrorism in characteristic fashion, complaining that the bomb threats were slowing Republican momentum for the upcoming midterm elections, deflecting blame from himself, and accusing the media of causing the societal “Anger” (sic.) that motivated the crime.
The MAGAbomber and aforementioned shootings are only the most recent of a long string of hate crimes that have swept the nation following Trump’s electoral victory. If Trump continues his violent and anti-semitic rhetoric, we can expect a lot more grieving families in the near future.