Blake Masters, the far-right Senate candidate in Arizona backed by former President Donald Trump, is staking his political career on a not-so-novel conservative idea: Blame nonwhite people for the world’s ills.
Masters, a venture capitalist whose campaign is largely financed by extremist tech billionaire Peter Thiel, launched his campaign while backing Trump’s baseless allegation that districts with large nonwhite populations stole the 2020 election. Time and again, that claim has been disproven — multiple times, even, in Masters’ own state of Arizona.
Nevertheless, conservatives like Masters haven’t stopped targeting nonwhite groups with baseless and biased invective.
Take this April interview, newly reported by The Daily Beast on Sunday, in which Masters blames America’s gun violence problem on “Black people, frankly.”
Appearing on the obscure "Jeff Oravitz Show," a conservative podcast, Masters said of America’s gun problem: "It’s gangs. It’s people in Chicago [and] St. Louis shooting each other. Very often, you know, Black people, frankly." Masters added that "Democrats don’t want to do anything about that."
A statement this overtly racist is worthy of fact-checking.
To start, let’s be very clear: Masters has no idea what percentage of the country’s shootings are committed by Black people — because the country doesn’t know either. Years of reporting has exposed the widespread failure of police departments to prosecute the perpetrators of gun crime.
What we know with more certainty is that Black people — including some in the cities Masters mentioned — are disproportionately victimized by gun violence. But contrary to Masters’ claim, responsibility for this violence doesn’t solely fall on the communities afflicted by it — and it certainly isn't the responsibility of any general racial group. That’s a fact.
As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote in a gun violence report released last month, “longstanding systemic inequities and structural racism have resulted in limited economic, housing, and educational opportunities associated with inequities in risk for violence and other health conditions among various racial and ethnic groups.” In other words, several factors contribute to a community's rate of gun violence.
That dovetails nicely into another lie Masters told: That “Democrats don’t want to do anything” about this scourge. In fact, it’s Republicans — mostly white Republicans at the national level, I might add — who support policies we know contribute to rampant gun violence domestically and abroad.
As I wrote last month, lax, conservative-backed policies — like the gun show loophole that allows for a proliferation of guns that feeds gun violence not only in the U.S., but throughout the Western hemisphere.
Masters’ definition of gun violence is also absurdly narrow. Effectively reducing gun violence to Black people “shooting each other” ignores the crisis of gun suicide occurring nationwide. For example, a report released by John Hopkins University this year found “elderly white men are at increased risk for gun suicide because this demographic is most likely to live in more rural communities with limited availability of mental health services and easy access to firearms.”
The things that would help curb gun violence — broadening health care access, curbing gun access and funding social programs — are literally tenets of the Democratic agenda that Republicans vehemently oppose. If Blake Masters is looking to blame someone for gun violence, he should start with the old, white guys running the GOP before opening his mouth to slander Black people.