POTUS Donald Trump could have gone one of two ways today:
He could have used the murders in New Zealand to provide comfort to American Muslims and to remind them that they are United States citizens who have every right to worship freely and participate in the life of American society. I am imagining that many American Muslims are anxious today after the attacks on the Christchurch mosques. Trump, as their president, could have calmed their fears, but this would not have played well with his base.
Instead, Trump denied that white supremacy and Islamophobia is a problem. Here is a piece at CNN.Com:
President Donald Trump said Friday he does not regard white nationalism as a rising global threat in the aftermath of mosque terror attacks in New Zealand that left at least 49 people dead.
“I don’t really,” Trump said in the Oval Office after being questioned about whether he views white nationalism as growing. “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess.”
Three people were arrested in connection with the shootings. They include a 28-year-old man who was charged with murder and was due to appear in court Saturday. The other two remain in custody. New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said authorities were investigating their ties to shootings that occurred as Muslims convened for Friday prayers, the busiest time for many mosques around the world. The suspected shooter livestreamed video of the attack and posted a manifesto online. In the manifesto, he identifies himself as a white man, born in Australia, and lists the white nationalists who have inspired him.
“If you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case,” Trump said on white nationalism. “I don’t know enough about it yet. They’re just learning about the person and the people involved.”
Calling the attack “terrible thing,” Trump said he’d not yet seen the manifesto the mosque shooter wrote.
“I did not see it. I did not see it, but I think it’s a horrible event, it’s a horrible thing,” he said, adding he was first updated on the attack early Friday morning.
Trump referred to the attacks at a pair of New Zealand mosques as “terror attacks” during remarks, the first time the President had done so himself publicly.
Earlier Friday, Trump expressed over Twitter his condolences to the people of New Zealand.
“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!” Trump tweeted.
As I type this I am watching an imam on CNN calling Muslim moderates around the world to condemn the extremism and terrorism. Despite the blanket statements about moderation being made by some American progressives, sometimes moderation is needed. In other words, moderates are not always “meh.”