- The US had a problem with right-wing extremist violence even before the Trump era.
- In 1995, terrorist Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in an attack on a government building in Oklahoma.
- The difference to the time before Trump is: Today, the slogans of America's racists are also heard in the White House.
- Trump repeatedly insults black athletes, artists and politicians as inferior.
What has the Christchurch attack to do with US President Donald Trump? A lot, say his opponents. For the assassin Trump is a "symbol of a renewed white identity". That's what his manifesto says. "Trump did not invent hatred, racism and anti-Semitism," Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand said, "but he has poured oil into a fire that is now burning harder than I've ever experienced."
The president himself does not want to know about it. Nothing has this plot to do with him. "The fake news media is working overtime to blame me on the terrible attack in New Zealand," he tweeted. People should just read the assassin's manifesto, his counselor Kellyanne Conway said, then they would see that Trump's name "only once" appears in it.
The debate that has been going on in the United States for a few days now might not have come about unless Trump reacted differently to the attack, in which a right-wing extremist shot dead 50 in two mosques. Another American president might have expressed sympathy to those Muslims in America and around the world who fear for their safety after the attack. He could have emphasized that attacks on praying people are an attack on religious freedom.
But Trump is not such a president. Following a standard condolence statement on the day of the attack, he went straight over to praising Twitter, a moderator of Fox News, who was suspended by the Conservative TV station for criticizing Islam over a Democrat MP last weekend.
When Trump talks about illegal immigrants, he talks about "animals"
That suited Trump's own history. There is the entry ban for Muslims, which he had as president. There are the scenes from his campaign when he pondered on a follower's question about how best to get rid of Muslims, falsely claiming that America's Muslims danced in the streets after the September 11 attacks. And there are all the Islamophobic tweets of right-wing extremist websites that Trump disseminates.
In reacting to Christchurch, the president fell into a pattern that his critics describe as follows: When a Muslim commits a crime, Trump plunges it with fervor. If, on the other hand, a Muslim is the victim of a crime, Trump does not say much about it. These critics are reassured by another statement made by Trump that he made to Christchurch: No, he said to a journalist's question, he did not believe that white nationalism was an increasing threat.
However, in the past few months alone there was enough illustrative material to the contrary. In October, an anti-Semite shot and punched eleven people in a Pittsburgh synagogue after declaring in a far-right forum that Jewish circles were working to replace the white population with immigrants. A self-proclaimed Trump supporter sent pipe bombs to political opponents of the president and media in the same month. And a few weeks ago, police arrested a right-wing Coast Guard officer who had prepared terrorist attacks in Washington to promote his "white state" goal.
As the Organization Anti-Defamation League recently stated in its annual report, right-wing extremists were involved in 50 killings in the US last year, an increase of 35 percent over the previous year. The number of nationalist propaganda activities has also increased from 421 events in 2017 to 1187 events last year. These include, for example, marches and demonstrations by right-wing extremists. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of active extremist groups rose to a record high.
The phenomenon is not new. The US had a problem with right-wing extremist violence even before Trump. In 1995, terrorist Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in an attack on a government building in Oklahoma. The difference to the time before Trump is: Today, the slogans of America's racists are also heard in the White House. Trump denounces black athletes, artists and politicians as inferior. He calls African countries "dirty holes". Participants in the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, he described as "very fine people". And when he talks about illegal immigrants, he talks about "animals" that "infest" the country, about an "invasion."