Trump Reaction to London Attack Boosts His Political Agenda…and Aids Terrorists
In the first few hours of the London terror attack, President Trump communicated to the nation via Twitter in a curious way. As live reports of dead civilians streamed in, Trump almost immediately pushed for his own Travel Ban — which some critics understandably saw as far too soon to politicize the tragedy — before offering support for the city of London. On the very next day, he also openly mocked the Mayor of London for telling his constituents “not to be alarmed.”
In these two communications, Trump actually aided and abetted the terrorist efforts by stoking more fear, and showed his craven priority of scoring political points before showing empathy or support for America’s oldest and dearest ally.
If the definition of terrorism is to destabilize a society through fear, then Trump’s alarmist reaction irresponsibly plays into that tactic and must be called out. Trump is not, of course, intentionally seeking to aid and abet the jihadists who are brutally aiming to disrupt Western civilization through random acts of violent death and there is zero equivalency between the two. But that doesn’t make Trump’s behavior any less worthy of critique.
Perhaps we should first consider the shifting definition of “terrorist.” Not long ago the I.R.A were considered terrorists, as were the Ku Klux Klan and the Weather Underground. Why? Because of the fear they sought to bring through random acts of violence. But now, the casual definition of terrorism is almost exclusively synonymous with radical Islamist extremism, over the traditional “random acts of violence” designed to inspire fear and unsettle a society.
It is within this context that we must view the recent tete-a-tete between London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan and President Donald Trump. Both are elected officials of unique background; Kahn is the son of first generation British-Muslims parents, while Trump is the heir to his father’s empire. But one showed true leadership while the other actively sought to fan the flames of hate and fear only to promote his own political agenda. Further, if the sitting president is actively suggesting to people to “be alarmed” he is actually aiding and abetting the goal of the terrorists: freak people out.
Another, smaller, example of this phenomenon is the example of British columnist Katie Hopkins, who mocked a Tweet of Owen Jones, a writer for The Guardian. It seems that in the hour after the attacks happened in London, Jones let the world know via Twitter that he, and his fellow compatriots at the pub where he was drinking, were actively keeping calm and carrying on. Hopkins saw that tweet (which has since been deleted) and instead of understanding the calm advocated by Jones, she turned it into a moment of bullying, criticizing Smith for smiling and drinking while people bled out on the streets. Whether you agree with Jones’s tactic or not, I believe Hopkins herself became her own version of an enabler of terrorism by actively chastising someone for boasting that he wouldn’t let terrorist behavior change his life.
The story above is a micro-metaphor for the current relationship between Kahn and Trump. Kahn showed true leadership in calming a potentially freaked out populace. Trump’s reaction was to mock that very idea, ostensibly telling us that instead of defiantly going about our business, we ought to be afraid. And a fearful society, of course, is a much easier one to pass restrictive policies — like a travel ban.
None of what is written above is news to anyone. But it wasn’t that long ago when leaders of both parties consistently took a calming role during national distress and attack. Trump is not be a radical Islamist extremist, but his scare tactics are playing right into the terror playbook. And that can have explosive results of a very different nature.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.