UPDATE: How President Trump Is Redefining Terrorism and Terrorists

terrorism image of CharlottesvilleUPDATE: President Trump’s flip-flopping on NOT  to call #Charlottesville, VA incidence over the weekend an act of terrorism and focus on calling out white supremacists sends the message to the rest of us  that in order to be labeled terrorism, the violence must be committed by Muslims against Non Muslims. Additionally, if the victims are Muslims, regardless of who the culprits are, it also is not an act of terrorism.

Therefore if a white supremacist Christian kills others in a clearly hate-inspired violence, it does not fit the bill. Apparently it is not an act of terrorism if a white supremacist commits an act of terrorism against those who were protesting anti-Semitism and racism.

President Trump’s initial statement read:

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides.

Many openly questioned as to why he did not clearly condemn the white supremacists, KKK and white nationalists who were marching at the rally, who have clearly supported Trump candidacy. After his initial statement, he later issued a statement calling out white supremacists and Neo-Nazi groups that resulted horrible violence, many injuries and the death of Heather Heyer. But then that was followed by Tuesday’s press conference, in which Trump retracted and doubled down on blaming many sides, calling out the “alt-Left” and again blaming “both sides.” He stated that he waited to call out the white supremacists because he wanted to “wait for the facts”.

Wait for the facts? Are you kidding me? When did he wait for the facts before tweeting almost impulsively?

He also praised the white supremacists saying “there were fine people on both sides”.

Fine people on both sides???

This brought praise from David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, who praised Trump on Twitter for his “honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottestville and condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa” (Black Lives Matter and anti-fascist movements). So consider that

When I first wrote this post, I wrote that even though the circumstances indicate that this was a hate-inspired act of terrorism by a right wing white supremacist when he ran his car over the protestors, we should hold off on our “final judgment” until the authorities investigate this further. Well, we now have confirmation.

Also to be fair, the threat from right wing extremists has been rising even before the election campaign and when President Trump took office. Charles Kurzman and David Schanzer had reported this in an op-ed in NY Times on June 16, 2015 titled, “The Growing Right-Wing Terror Threat”, when they remarked[1]:

But headlines can mislead. The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists. Just ask the police.

In a survey we conducted with the Police Executive Research Forum last year of 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction; 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations. And only 3 percent identified the threat from Muslim extremists as severe, compared with 7 percent for anti-government and other forms of extremism.

President Trump did initially respond relatively quickly, denouncing the incident.

But he wanted to wait for the investigations to be complete. He did not call this an act of terrorism.

Last week, a mosque in #Bloomington, MN was fire-bombed. Governor Dayton immediately called it an act of terrorism. There was silence from the Trump tweet world. When the word eventually did come out of the White House, it was not called terrorism.

He wanted to wait for the investigations to be complete. He did not call this an act of terrorism.

The White House wanted to take a “wait and see approach”

Few months ago, another white supremacist terror attack occurred in Portland, Oregon. Jeremy Christian, a 35-year-old white man, was on a local train spewing anti-Muslim and other racist remarks. When three good Samaritans stood up to Christian’s hateful comments, he stabbed them, killing Nakai Meche and Ricky John Best. Jeremy Christian’s anti-Semitic and racist views were well documented in media reports and his facebook activities.

How did President Trump respond?

He waited three full days to tweet- from his presidential account.

“The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them.”

He wanted to wait for the investigations to be complete. He did not call this an act of terrorism.

Compare his lack of willingness to call these acts of terrorism committed by white supremacists, to when similar acts were committed by Muslims.

On June 3, 2017 a van ran into the pedestrian on London Bridge. Eventually eight innocents people were killed in the terror attack. Within hours, President Trump tweeted:

At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is “no reason to be alarmed!”4:31 AM – Jun 4, 2017

Note the time of the tweet. He did not wait for America to wake up!

He did not wait for the investigation to be complete (or even for America to wake up). He called this an act of terrorism.

In July 2016, a truck plowed into a crowd in Nice, France that was celebrating Bastille Day, killing 86 innocent people in a terror attack. President Trump called a war on ISIS as the news came out.

He did not wait for the investigation to be complete. 

terrorism stopDuring the election campaign, candidate Trump repeatedly clashed with candidate Clinton (and President Obama), accusing them of not calling it what it is- radical Islamic terrorism. He emphasized that in order to combat the enemy, they had to name the enemy-the enemy being radical Islamic terrorists.

When it comes to fighting the domestic terrorism, he has trouble naming Christian white supremacist terrorism as the enemy — enemy of America and American people. Can you imagine what he would have tweeted if the same Charlottesville attack was conducted by a man with Muslim sounding name? And, what are we to think when the likes of David Duke praises the president and claims him as one of his own?

As long as we have racism, hate and fear running amok (and some would argue encouraged/inspired by the current environment in the White House), he cannot make America great again.

America is great when we respect, and work with each other regardless of our color, the language we speak, the color of our skin, the religion we practice(or not) and our ethnic origin.

Our hearts go out to the victim and the family of Heather Heyer, who was killed in this terrorist attack, along with the two troopers, Berke Bates and Jay Cullen, who died when their helicopter crashed while assisting public safety resources.

Let’s keep America great. Let’s call spades, spades. Let’s call acts of terrorism what they are regardless of who the culprits are and regardless of who the victims are.

Lets admit it. Our country is deeply divided. There is a need for bringing people together. It is clear this is not going to come from the White House.

Let the healing begin. But let’s identify the disease before we can start the process of healing- the disease being hate and bigotry. In this case neo-Nazism, anti-Semitism and racism( white supremacy).

We must unite against anti-Semitism and racism. We must be united against hate. We are United States of America, NOT United Hates of America.

The healing needs to start from within us. It starts from me- the individual I have the most control over.

We all need to take that approach and not with for someone else to start the healing process.

 

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[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/16/opinion/the-other-terror-threat.html?_r=2

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