On Tuesday, a man in a rented Home Depot truck plowed into bicyclists and pedestrians just blocks away from the World Trade Center, killing eight people and injuring more than a dozen. The man was Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, 29, a Uzbekistan native who came to the US legally in 2010. It is said today that he had been planning this attack for weeks, and that he said he carried it out under the name of Daesh (aka ISIS). Donald Trump, predictably, wasted no time politicizing the tragedy to further his own agenda with the following tweets:
“Senator Chuck Schumer helping to import Europes problems” said Col.Tony Shaffer. We will stop this craziness! @foxandfriends
We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter). @foxandfriends
The terrorist came into our country through what is called the “Diversity Visa Lottery Program,” a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.
I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!
We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!
There is much that could be said here, such as that Trump has no understanding of the root causes of terrorism, causes to which the United States has contributed. But my point today is that this is not a time to politicize such an event, further adding to the divisiveness of this nation at a time when unity should be called for.
We should not be surprised by his inappropriate behaviour, however. Remember back in June, immediately following a terrorist attack in London, when Trump then attacked London Mayor Sadiq Khan, tweeting …
At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is “no reason to be alarmed!”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio both say they have not been contacted directly by Trump, and both are quite content to leave it that way. Cuomo said, of Trump’s tweets …
“The president’s tweets, I think, were not helpful. I don’t think they were factual. They tended to point fingers and politicize the situation. His tweet wasn’t even accurate, as far as I’m concerned. That was a bipartisan law that was passed that had basically no relevance to the facts of this situation. … As I said before, you play into the terrorists to the extent you disrupt and divide and frighten people in this society. The tone now should be the exact opposite.”
I couldn’t have said it better. What do terrorists want? They want attention and they want to create an atmosphere of fear. Trump certainly gives them both.
It is wrong to politicize this situation. Trump’s job, if only he would do it, is to bring unity, to express compassion and concern, but not to jump to conclusions without having information, not to further divide the nation by turning it into a partisan issue, attacking a well-respected senator. Is “attack” the only mode this ‘man’ knows?
I keep thinking of how President Obama, were he still in office, would be responding. I think he would have personally called both Cuomo and De Blasio, and I think his speech would be much more moderated, more calming rather than trying to stir fear. After the aforementioned London attack, here is how President Obama reacted:
“My heart goes out to the victims and their families in London. No act of terror can shake the strength and resilience of our British ally.”
That, my friends, is how a president should respond. I miss Barack Obama, especially at times like this. That said, my heart goes out to the good people of New York City and the family & friends of the victims of this tragedy. But we must not allow the event nor the rhetoric to instill fear in us. No nationality, no religion, no single group of people can be blamed nor held to account for the actions of one individual. This man did what he did for reasons we may never understand, but his actions are not representative of the religion Islam, nor are they representative of people from the Middle East. Our only reaction must be empathy, humanity and kindness. Anything else lowers us to the standard of those who prefer hate to love. Give someone a special hug today. Practice strength, not fear; love, not hate.