On Friday, New York University students confronted Chelsea Clinton at a vigil for victims of the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, which claimed the lives of 49 people.
The shooting took place at two mosques. The killer deliberately targeted Muslims, and was motivated by the delusional concerns typical of the far-right white nationalist fringe: Islam invading the West, immigrants replacing the white race, etc.
If you’re wondering what this has to do with Chelsea Clinton, you’re not alone. And yet, a leftwing activist wearing a t-shirt bearing the slogans “Jobs for all, Medicare for all, college for all, and justice for all” screamed at the former president’s daughter.
“This [vigil] right here is the result of a massacre stoked by people like you and the words that you put out into the world,” said the activist, a young woman. “I want you to know that and I want you to feel that deep inside—49 people died because of the rhetoric that you put out there.”
The young woman’s friends—most of whom are not visible in the video footage of the encounter—snap their fingers in solidarity.
So, what’s going on? Clinton, you may recall, had joined with many in the Democratic Party to criticize Rep. Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.) for perceived anti-Semitic remarks. Omar is Muslim, and calling her out has emboldened anti-Islamic sentiment, according to some on the far left. That’s the causal chain: Chelsea Clinton urged Omar to be more careful with her rhetoric, this contributed in some way to Islamophobia, and then Christchurch happened.
Needless to say, this is absurd. I’m all for holding the Clinton family accountable, and it’s perfectly legitimate to criticize Hillary Clinton for her foreign policies. As a U.S. senator and secretary of state, Clinton was a major proponent of the Iraq War and the intervention in Libya, both of which destabilized the Middle East and caused the deaths of millions of Muslims. But Chelsea Clinton isn’t responsible for that, and she certainly isn’t responsible for the actions of a deranged white nationalist in New Zealand.