Yesterday, April 3rd, there was a shooting at the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California. While details are still being uncovered, police have identified the shooter as San Diego resident Nasim Aghdam. And last night, Donald Trump Jr. used reports about Aghdam’s ideology to criticize liberals in the wake of the shooting.
Trump alleged that Aghdam had been behind “hateful Instagram and YouTube channels” that were pulled down in the wake of the shooting. He also implied that, had the shooter belonged to the NRA, such measures would not have been taken.
Aghdam has been linked to PETA. In 2009, the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote that she had participated in a local PETA protest against the use of pigs in military training. The newspaper quoted her as saying, “For me, animal rights equal human rights.” However, Aghdam’s motive for the YouTube shooting is still under investigation.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Aghdam did indeed have a YouTube channel that has since been deleted. The news outlet described her videos as focusing on “a mix of topics, from vegan cooking to workouts to parodies of music videos.” The Chronicle also wrote that, on what appeared to be her personal website, Aghdam claimed that her videos had been “filtered” by YouTube, causing them to receive fewer views.
Trump’s tweet implies that Aghdam’s social media channels were removed in order to cover up her “liberal” ideology, but this idea is incoherent and misleading. For example, after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, the social media pages of gunman Nikolas Cruz were also taken down. Several news outlets reported that Cruz often posted about his gun collection on Instagram and Facebook, so Trump’s speculation that a mass shooter’s social media accounts would not be pulled if they were pro-gun doesn’t make sense. And, as some pointed out, Aghdam’s ideology (which is unclear apart from her animal rights activism) is less important than the fact that she was able to open fire on the YouTube headquarters.
These latest tweets from Trump only detract from the matter at hand. We need to end gun violence now.