This column about the acts of terror in El Paso and Dayton is not going to mention President Donald Trump, other than to explain why I won't be mentioning him.
It's because his followers and supporters would become upset.
They told me so this week, in letters to the editor and emails. Readers who otherwise found agreement with some of my columns, asked that I stop criticizing, nay, even mentioning President Donald Trump.
It turns them off, they said. It makes them want to stop reading the Post-Dispatch, they said. It upsets them.
It bothers them when I mention President Donald Trump's overt racism, I suppose, because it makes them question their own hearts. It bothers them when I mention his thousands upon thousands of lies, because, well, what about Hillary Clinton?
It upsets them when I mention that President Donald Trump has waged a nonstop attack on the free press by calling them the “enemy of the people” and “fake news,” so I won't get into that.
I won't mention that the raging racist who killed 22 people in and around an El Paso, Texas, Walmart specifically mentioned those words in his manifesto and saw President Donald Trump as a hero figure, guiding him to wage a war on brown people.
I won't mention that domestic terrorism experts — those on the right and the left — have been warning for months now that President Donald Trump's dangerous rhetoric — from “send her back” to labeling Mexicans as rapists and criminals — is actually making horrific events like what happened in El Paso more likely.
“I think it’s laughable that people are trying to separate the two things in saying there is no relationship between what the president urges his supporters to do and what his supporters then do,” one such expert told Vanity Fair late last year. “A fourth grader could see the connection. … Anybody who says there is no connection, I think is saying it for political or ideological reasons.”
I won't mention that at a Florida rally in May for President Donald Trump, after the president said, “How do you stop these people? You can't,” that a member of the crowd shouted, “Shoot them.”
Mentioning that the president shrugged off the comments might be upsetting to some of my readers.
“Only in the (Florida) Panhandle can you get away with that statement,” President Donald Trump said.
Add El Paso to the list.
And less than 24-hours later, another shooter with an assault weapon, this one fed by a 100-round drum of death, struck in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine innocents.
Surely, my readers who still support President Donald Trump will back the new straw man put forth by his Republican enablers this weekend: that America has a cultural problem, and a mental health problem. Not a gun problem. Not a white supremacy problem. So I should not mention that among President Donald Trump's first actions was to revoke a regulation from the President Barack Obama era that made it more difficult for the mentally ill to obtain guns.
Nor should I mention that states like Missouri — where much of the mental health work is actually done — have dismantled and underfunded state programs to serve the mentally ill over decades, and that states like Missouri and Texas, with the weakest of gun laws, are statistically more likely to have people die at the hands of gun violence because it is so easy to obtain weapons of mass destruction.
And, of course, I won't mention that the Affordable Care Act for the first time in our nation's history treated mental health just like other health problems, making it treatable under the nation's insurance policies, and not avoidable like a preexisting condition.
This would be a bad time to mention that President Donald Trump and his friends in the Republican-controlled Senate are trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act.
I won't talk about any of these easily verifiable facts in this column because if I do, some of Trump's supporters will stop reading the Post-Dispatch. They'll spend even more of their time on Fox News, or the sort of Internet chat boards that feed their conspiracy theories. They'll weaken a press that has already fed the beast by slowly pulling out of rural areas expensive to serve, leaving folks there with limited access to the free press.
A weakened nation in the middle of an assault-weapon-fueled attack on its own people needs the press to speak to the truth on the ground. It needs the El Paso Times to quote Sheriff Richard Wiles, who said of that city's white supremacist terrorist: “This Anglo man came here to kill Hispanics. I'm outraged and you should be too. This entire nation should be outraged. In this day and age, with all the serious issues we face, we are still confronted with people who will kill another for the sole reason of the color of their skin. I fear things will not get better. Not pointing out anyone in particular, but I'm sick of people jumping in front of the cameras offering prayers and condolences as things just keep getting worse.”