An improvised explosive device was thrown through the window of a mosque in Bloomington, Minnesota, while Muslim-Americans worshipped in the building. The attack occurred on Aug. 5. Just about a week later, the so-called president of all the people has refused to utter or tweet a single word of condemnation.
On election night last November, Trump said that his “movement” is “comprised of Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds and beliefs, who want and expect our government to serve the people, and serve the people it will.” Really? He would serve the people of all races and religions? The fraudulent promises began long before the beginning.
Trump has tweeted dozens of times since Aug. 5 - sliming a Democratic senator as a crybaby (note the psychological projection), taking credit for the economy (which has long been recovering thanks to Obama), insisting that his Trumpkin base is “bigger & stronger than ever before” (new polls show that it’s shrinking), and all sorts of other flotsam and jetsam - but somehow his thumbs have been incapable of crafting sympathy for American worshippers under attack.
A volunteer who’s helping to rebuild the damaged Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center said Tuesday that if Trump would only voice his support, it would demonstrate “that he isn’t the president of a certain group of people, but the whole United States.” But ah, there’s the rub.
The problem is, Trump is president of only a certain group of people - at this point, it’s roughly one-third of the citizenry and disproportionately white, downscale, and lacking college degrees - and that certain group of people is more hostile to Muslims than the general population. Trump’s base has felt that way for years, and he needs to keep nurturing what’s left of his constituency. One way is to keep feeding his narrative that Muslims are an existential threat; tweeting support for the victimized Minnesotans would breach that narrative.
It’s part of a pattern. Back in May, when a white-supremacist Trump-lover harassed a hijab-wearing girl on a Portland, Oregon, commuter train, and then killed a military vet who tried to intercede, Trump tweeted nothing on his personal account (the account he routinely uses). Back in January, when a Canadian white racist killed six Muslim worshippers at a mosque in Quebec City, again Trump tweeted nothing. Sean Spicer provided comic relief, insisting that the six Muslim deaths in Quebec City was proof that America needed a Muslim travel ban. Feel free to puzzle out his logic.
Officially, the White House says that Trump doesn’t want to rush to judgment about the Minnesota bombing until all the facts are in. A spokesman suggested Tuesday that perhaps somebody on “the left” bombed the mosque, for the purpose of pinning a hate crime on conservatives. He said, “Let’s wait and see and allow local authorities to provide their assessment. And then the White House will make its comments.”
Well. Three quick points:
1. Trump has no problem rushing to judgment when the whim strikes. In June, he instantly declared that a report of violence at a gambling casino in Manila was a “terrorist attack” and that “our thoughts and our prayers are with all of those affected.” If he’d waited literally a few minutes, he would’ve learned the factual truth, courtesy of police in the Philippines, that a lone thief had tried to rob the place.
2. The Department of Homeland Security and a slew of researchers have long concluded that the vast majority of terror incidents in America are committed by right-wing extremists. The latest study, released this summer, says that between 2008 and 2016, right-wingers committed twice as many violent acts as those who identify with Islamic extremism. All told, “This project quantifies just how irrational Trump and the GOP’s fixation on ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ as the greatest security threat is.”
3. The White House spokesman who suggested that the Minnesota mosque bombing might’ve been plotted by “the left” is none other than Sebastian Gorka. Yup, the flack who’s defending Trump’s silence is a sworn member of a far-right Hungarian extremist group that’s listed by the State Department as a “criminal organization,” in part because the group was once allied with Nazi Germany. It’s quite perverse - and a tad weak on the credibility front - that Gorka, of all people, is the guy playing point on the mosque story.
If only Trump could find the time to tweet sympathy for the Muslims in Minnesota, it might at least distract him from riffing apocalyptically about North Korea. That would indeed be a two-fer.
Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia (newsworks.org/polman) and a “Writer in Residence” at the University of Pennsylvania. Email him at email@example.com.