In an appearance on MSNBC Monday, a former FBI assistant director found fault with President Donald Trump’s order that flags be flown at half mast to honor victims a pair of mass shootings over the weekend.
According to Frank Figliuzzi, a regular contributor to the network, Trump sent a secret message of support to neo-Nazis by choosing to end the display of national mourning on Aug. 8. Figliuzzi explained that the the eighth day of the eighth month of the year has special significance to some lovers of Adolf Hitler.
“The president says that we will fly our flags at half-mast until August 8, that’s 8/8,” Figliuzzi told host Brian Williams on “The 11th Hour.” “Now, I’m not going to imply that he did this deliberately, but I am using it as an example of the ignorance of the adversary demonstrated by the White House. The numbers 8/8 are very significant in the neo-Nazi and the white supremacy movement.
“Why?” Figluizzi asked. “Because the letter ‘H’ is the eighth letter of the alphabet, and to them, the numbers 8/8 stand for ‘Heil Hitler.'”
American flags and various other symbols, from the OK hand gesture to clowns, have lately been declared off limits by liberal activists due to association with racists.
Whether the coded signaling was intentional or not in this case, Figliuzzi said, it deserved to be condemned.
“We have to understand the adversary and the threat we’re dealing with,” Figliuzzi warned, speaking of neo-Nazis.
Figliuzzi also complained that Trump did not do enough to condemn white supremacy in his Monday speech, because he used too much passive voice and not enough first-person language.
Trump flying flags half-mast and the narrative of Nazis
The shooting Saturday in El Paso, Texas, apparently motivated by anti-immigrant sentiment, has revived longstanding claims that Trump is enabling or even promoting white nationalism in the United States.
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke told CNN on Sunday that Trump is so clearly a “white nationalist” that the matter “cannot be open for debate.”
Major media outlets have echoed the allegations, publishing numerous op-eds in recent days with headlines like “We must call the El Paso shooting what it is: Trump-inspired terrorism” and “Republicans have avoided talking about Trump and white nationalism.”
Like Figliuizzi, such critics have tended to dismiss the president’s repeated condemnations of the El Paso shooter and white supremacy.
In ordering on Saturday that flags be lowered at the White House and all public and military facilities, Trump said that the nation mourned those lost in El Paso as well as in another shooting 14 hours later in Dayton, Ohio.
“We share in the pain and suffering of all those who were injured in these two senseless attacks. We condemn these hateful and cowardly acts,” he said. “Through our grief, America stands united with the people of El Paso and Dayton. May God be with the victims of these two horrific crimes and bring aid and comfort to their families and friends.”
Trump’s Latino base isn’t buying it
Despite the entrenchment of the white nationalist narrative about Trump, many ethnic minorities in the United States have continued to support the president. The Washington Post on Tuesday found many Latino Americans in El Paso refused to blame Trump for the shooting or American racism more broadly.
The newspaper noted that a recent Telemundo poll, found that a quarter of Texas Latinos support Trump’s reelection. That’s about the same as the president’s national approval rating among adult Hispanics, according to Gallup.
“That figure has remained largely constant since his election, with an occasional dip and rise again, suggesting there is an immovable core of Latino voters who support him, albeit a clear minority,” the Post reported.
David Callejas, 35, told the Post that the Texas shooter’s actions were the result of “an upbringing issue with the individual,” rather than a racist narrative from the White House.
“I like the business background he has. America needs that,” Callejas said. “We don’t want to go through another economic crisis. The Democrats are too radical. We don’t want to become Venezuela.”