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when Donald Trump believes a terrorist attack by Muslim extremists has taken place, he rarely hesitates before speaking out about it — often regardless of whether authorities have even begun to investigate what actually took place. But when it comes to anti-Muslim hate crimes, Trump’s reactions are often halfhearted, delayed, or nonexistent.
There is perhaps no starker example of this than the president’s response to the terror events of last week: one in Portland, Oregon, in which two men died protecting two Muslim women who were being harassed by a ranting white supremacist; and one in London over the weekend, in which three terrorists murdered seven and wounded dozens more, armed with a van used to mow down pedestrians on London Bridge, and knives, wielded as instruments of destruction on innocent bystanders.
Trump declined to comment on the killings in Portland for days. Yet he spoke out almost immediately about London, sending out tweet after tweet railing against political correctness and calling for a tough response.
This wasn’t just a one-off, either — rather, it’s part of a disturbing pattern of Trump’s apparent reluctance to condemn anti-Muslim violence while reflexively condemning violence purportedly carried out by Muslims.
The responses to terror of any sort from American presidents traditionally have had a certain consistency of message and of meaning. In the past, presidents have appealed to our greater humanity, to rationality, to our understanding that more unites us than divides us. Traditionally, too, presidents have appealed to communities for calm.
Trump doesn’t do any of that. He sometimes does the opposite.
Trump typically reacts immediately to reports of Muslim terror attacks
When a gunman opened fire on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016, destroying lives in the space of minutes, Trump was quick to label the incident as terrorism. Then, with 50 dead and families across the region mourning, he congratulated himself for recognizing terrorism when it had taken place.
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