The Trump administration has consistently demonstrated a shocking lack of concern in its handling of terror acts perpetrated by white, home-grown assailants.
The term “war on terror” was first employed in a public audience by President George W. Bush on September 20th, 2001 in the wake of horrific attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center towers. In the years since, the term has been applied to refer to a plethora of conflicts, large and small. The common thread between these conflicts is that they exist between the United States and an unsovereign organization.
While it might be comfortable for some to subscribe to racial stereotypes about where these threats emanate from, history gives plenty of examples of terrorist acts borne and bred on native soil. The Trump administration, however, doesn’t seem to agree with this concept — in fact, it has demonstrated a shocking lack of concern in its handling of terror acts perpetrated by white, home-grown assailants.
Trump’s Diatribe on Islam
When we have seen the Trump administration up in arms, it has come in reaction to threats of Islamic terrorism. Quelling the uprising of groups like ISIS has been at the forefront of the Trump administration’s foreign policy since early in the electoral race. Trump even went as far as to propose forcing Muslim Americans to register with the government during his campaign, a move frighteningly reminiscent of measures taken by Nazi Germany.
Despite seeing his “travel ban” — a measure proposed to combat Islamic terrorism by denying access for foreigners from Islamic nations — struck down by US courts, Trump continues to promote a hard-line Islamophobic attitude via his favorite medium, Twitter.
Why Manchester is a Great Example
The new president, who repeatedly criticized Barack Obama for showing tolerance to the Muslim world during his administration, is particularly chatty when there are political points to be scored following events that involve Muslim terrorism.
One example of this exact behavior is the tweetstorm Trump unleashed following the Manchester, England attack that killed seven. Trump’s initial tweet was a message of solidarity, but within 24-hours of the events, Trump sought to use the attack as a political football by chastising the (first-ever Muslim) mayor of London and attempted to use the opportunity as a case against gun control.
In one tweet, Trump suggests that “We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people.” But is that really his agenda? His administration’s failure to act in domestic situations would suggest otherwise.
White Supremacy Goes Undeterred
During the tumultuous election year that was 2016, the Trump campaign repeatedly juggled the tricky topic of its popularity with white supremacist groups organizing under the banner of the “Alt-right”.
Bringing on Steve Bannon, former executive chair of ultra-right wing publication Breitbart, as a top advisor only fanned the flames of rumors that the administration was unequivocally racist, but Trump insisted that his team be judged by their actions, not their past.
A lack of action is really what has characterized Trump’s stance on the touchy subject. As compared to his opus on Islam following Manchester, violent attacks carried out by white supremacists in Portland evoked hardly a whimper. He also chose not to get involved in the controversy swirling around the removal of confederate monuments that clearly promote racist ideals in the city of New Orleans.
The Two Faces of Trump
In any presidential campaign you might expect there to be issues where an anecdote from the past raises questions about a candidate’s moral compass. Yet, never before has such thinly veiled racism been allowed to go unchecked in the White House.
As with any topic, it seems that Trump’s matter-of-fact approach and selective ignorance to issues of terrorism taking place inside the country he was elected to govern are too sensitive for him to approach. With his administration setting record lows for approval ratings early in its tenure, Trump can’t afford to take risks with his least congenial supporters.
What a telling sign of our failure to entrust the right people with power it is that our chief policymaker has no choice but to pander to bigots.
Make America White Again
This type of behavior might be expected in the dialog that takes place inside of congressional chambers. In the course of debate over complex issues like climate change or finance reform, you might expect to see a statesman contradict himself once or twice. But race?
If — as Trump asserted in his campaign slogan — America needs to be made great again, how exactly does endorsing such archaic and ugly values accomplish that?