President Donald Trump has the habit of trotting out somewhat typical condemnations after acts of violence and when specifically pressed will say he does not condone its use — but that should not be mistaken as sincere.
Just one day before he spoke out against the mass shootings in two Christchurch, New Zealand mosques, during which a white supremacist took at least 49 lives, Trump was quoted by Breitbart as threatening violence against his own citizens.
“I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad,” Trump told the right-wing outlet.
The very next day, the president took to Twitter condemning the violence in New Zealand, writing, “My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”
Whether it is condoning violence at his rallies, only to later say he condemns all forms of violence, or refusing to denounce the white supremacists at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, where a young woman was killed, Trump has shown time and again that he not only approves of violence (so long as it targets people he perceives as enemies) but has also spouted rhetoric that encourages such violent behavior.
Trump might not have pulled the trigger inside the New Zealand mosques but he surely has contributed to the sociopolitical environment that radicalizes people like the alleged shooter.
The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin noted in a Friday op-ed that Trump has taken a prominent role in furthering far-right conspiracy theories and provoking irrational fears.
In the third year of Trump’s presidency we’ve witnessed the president stoke irrational and baseless fears of Muslim invaders (hence the travel ban and the lies about Middle East terrorists mixed into the caravan). We’ve seen him declare that there were “very fine” people were among the neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville, who chanted the white nationalist theme (“Jews will not replace us”) — the same “replacement” ideology apparently at the heart of the New Zealand attacks.
Trump has hired advisers who believe the United States is in a life-and-death struggle with Islam, blurring the distinction between members of a worldwide religion and fundamentalists responsible for terrorism attacks. He has falsely labeled acts of terrorism from radicalized people in the United States as evidence of the Muslim threat he tells his followers they should fear. He has virtually ignored right-wing domestic terror — despite its rise in the United States and around the world:
Rubin goes on to quote part of a speech President George W. Bush gave following the terrorist attacks of November 11, 2001:
“Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don’t represent the best of America, they represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior.” He never conceived that such a person would occupy the Oval Office.