Earlier today, a vehicle plowed into a group of French soldiers as they left their barracks in a town near Paris. While it appears none of the targets were killed, the local mayor described it as a “terrorist” incident, and the suspect was apprehended soon after.
Soon after U.S. media took note of what happened, there was Donald Trump, retweeting a Fox News report on the apparent attack. That’s not especially surprising, of course, since the American president routinely makes note of suspected terrorist incidents.
This does, however, make it all the more curious that Trump has had literally nothing to say about a makeshift bomb that was detonated early Saturday morning at a Minnesota mosque. Fortunately, no one was injured, but local officials suspect this was an anti-Muslim terrorist incident.
So, why has Trump said nothing about a bombing targeting Americans on American soil? Sebastian Gorka, one of the president’s more controversial national security advisers, appeared on MSNBC yesterday, and shed some light on the White House’s thinking.
[Gorka] suggested the attack could have been a “fake” hate crime.
“There’s a great rule: All initial reports are false,″ Gorka said. “You have to check them and find out who the perpetrators are. We’ve had a series of crimes committed, alleged hate crimes, by right-wing individuals in the last six months, that turned out to actually have been propagated by the left.”
He added, in reference to the bombing at the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, “People fake hate crimes.”
Look, I’m not going to pretend to have special insights into the motivation of the attacker in Minnesota. If the White House wants to wait until it’s absolutely certain the president has all the facts about what happened, fine. Trump could still denounce the bombing, regardless of why the device was detonated, but if officials in the West Wing believe it’s better to say absolutely nothing until every question has a firm answer, they can certainly do that.
But let’s not play games. When Trump learns of a suspected terrorist incident, and he believes the attacker is Muslim, he pounces without a whole lot of thought or information. In June, in the immediate aftermath of a deadly attack in London, Trump not only exploited the incident to advance his political agenda, his public reaction drew conclusions before British officials had provided details to the public.
Trump’s rhetoric in response to suspected terrorism has been so profoundly irresponsible that the Associated Press published a fact-checking piece in June that said the president “can’t be counted on to give accurate information to Americans when violent acts are unfolding abroad.”
It’s against this backdrop that Sebastian Gorka wants us to believe Trump is simply being cautious, taking his time before saying anything about the Minnesota bombing. It’s far easier to believe there’s something pernicious about the president’s attitudes.