Former President Donald Trump very briefly referred at a political rally to the racist shootings in Buffalo that claimed ten lives — then instantly switched in a wild non sequitur to Afghanistan, where he falsely claimed there was no loss of life.
Few details were likely verified at the time on Saturday when Trump commented on the Buffalo violence at the rally in Austin, Texas. But he was clearly aware “numerous people” had been killed and expressed no sadness nor offered condolences.
“I think they had a tragic event in Buffalo … tragic event in Buffalo with numerous people being killed,” he told the crowd. He immediately added: “In 18 months in Afghanistan, we lost nobody,” which is not true.
It was strange to compare a murderous domestic hate crime to a war zone. Trump also lied about deaths in Afghanistan. There was no 18-month period of time during the Trump administration when there was no American loss of life, according to Pentagon statistics. During Trump’s last year in office, 22 U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) denounced Trump’s comparison of Afghanistan to Buffalo as “ridiculous” and his dismissal of the deaths of U.S. servicemembers as “disrespectful.”
Trump may have been uncomfortable discussing the shootings, given his own history linked to the racist “great replacement theory” that apparently inspired the suspected gunman, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, according to his online writings. The theory claims white Americans are at risk of being replaced by people of color through immigration, interracial marriage and eventually violence.
Trump described white supremacists who embraced the theory and marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 as “very fine people.” They chanted “Jews will not replace us,” and “you will not replace us” while they marched.