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Joanita Wibowo

“Absence of empathy”: Donald and Melania Trump under fire over photo with El Paso shooting victim

“Absence of empathy”: Donald and Melania Trump under fire over photo with El Paso shooting victim

A backlash is building over Donald and Melania Trump after the US first lady posted a photo on Twitter showing the couple smiling broadly while holding a two-month-old baby whose parents were killed in the El Paso mass shooting.

On a visit to the Texan city last week, the president could be seen flashing a thumbs-up when posing with the infant as well as hospital staff and first responders.

The child, named Paul, lost his parents Jordan and Andre Anchondo after they attempted to shield him from the bullets in the August 3 shooting. The boy was discharged from University Medical Center, but reportedly brought back at the request of White House for Trump’s visit.

The pictures have been widely slammed, with many people describing the Trumps’ gesture as insensitive. “Your husband is grinning like a game show contestant and giving a ‘thumbs up’ next to a baby orphaned during another mass murder,” one wrote in response to the first lady’s post. “If you had normal human empathy you’d realize how horribly odd this is.”

A hospital official told CNN there was a general assessment among patients that the president acted with “an absence of empathy” during the visit. “Some people didn’t want any visitors. Some didn’t want to meet [Trump],” the official said.

The president did not meet with any of the eight survivors still receiving treatment in the hospital. Five declined to see Trump, while three were in poor condition or do not speak English.

According to the Guardian, doctors at the Del Sol medical center also said Trump appeared to “lack empathy” after he boasted about drawing a larger crowd at a January rally in the city than “crazy” 2020 Democratic presidential contender Beto O’Rourke.

Tito Anchondo, the uncle of the baby, told The Associated Press on Friday that Trump “was just there to give his condolences and he was just being a human being”. He told the El Paso Times that his late brother supported Trump.

He said, “We should be coming together as a country at this time instead of threatening each other with hate messages.”