Trump says he does not think white nationalism is a rising global threat, this coming days after the massacre at 2 mosques in New Zealand. The shooter left a manifesto praising Trump for his views and taking inspiration from him.
Trump had a chance to boldly condemn white supremacy and Islamophobia on Friday morning. Instead, after issuing a muffled statement of sympathy for the victims of murderous attacks on mosques in New Zealand, the president of the United States went back to complaining, in great and extended detail, that special counsel Robert Mueller “should never have been appointed and there should be no Mueller Report.”
On one of the darkest days in history for Muslims worldwide, the president’s initial response to the New Zealand killings failed to mention Muslims, Islam, Islamophobia, white supremacy, racism, bigotry or violent hatred that targets people based on their religion.
Trump will, hopefully, come around to more explicitly and effectively condemning the latest acts of mass violence directed at places of worship by white supremacists. But his every action reminds us that we have a president whose priorities are so warped that he cannot bring himself to lead in the moment when leadership is most needed.
Even the president’s supporters, who make excuses for what they tell us are his “lapses,” and who so ardently reject any suggestion that he encourages or tolerates bigotry, have to recognize that Trump is failing miserably as a leader. The United States is a powerful, influential country. But the measures of American leadership on the global stage are fluid. They depend on the quality of the individuals who occupy positions of public trust and authority.
Yet, whenever the moment demands more, Trump offers less. After the killing of at least 49 people in mass shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, it was immediately clear that this was what New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern identified it as: “a terrorist attack” committed by “people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact have no place in the world.”
By Friday morning in the United States, Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League was telling NPR that the Christchurch attack “clearly was motivated by white supremacy.”
“We’ve got a big problem on our hands and we need to recognize that social media allows white supremacy, much like other forms of hate, to travel across borders, and we’ve got to recognize it for the global terror threat that it really is,” warned Greenblatt, who noted that the killer in Christchurch had referenced white supremacists and white nationalists who had engaged in mass murder in the United States and other countries.
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