Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Terror Here and There: Trump's Situational Silence

A traumatized woman after last night's terror
attack in London
This morning as I lay in bed reading the latest updates on the terror attack that hit the city of London last night, it was hard to fathom the depths of depravity to which some individuals will sink to inflict suffering and death upon the innocent.

According to a recap of the incident and its aftermath published in the Telegraph earlier today, at least seven people lost their lives and 48 people were injured in the course of the nightmare that unfolded on a busy Saturday night in London.

As the Telegraph reported, witnesses heard at least one of the three men who exited the van that struck at least five people on London Bridge shout"This is for Allah!" (ISIS claimed responsibility) before they began racing into pubs and restaurants in the crowded Borough Market section of London slashing and stabbing innocent people with large hunting knives and machetes.

One can only wonder what's going on in the minds of the relatives and friends of the victims of these attacks, certainly for those who knew someone who died, but also for the dozens of people who remain in critical condition in three area hospitals.

As someone who lived in Manhattan on September 11, 2001, I can understand the feelings of trauma, fear, anxiety, helplessness, anger and sadness that the residents of London, and indeed the entire UK, are now experiencing - and people in other countries where some of the victims are from as well.

As an American I'm embarrassed, outraged and simply baffled at the dimwitted comments Donald Trump released about the terror attack via his Twitter account.

It's remarkable, with each day and each tweet, this delusional narcissist seems to further demonstrate just how totally unqualified he his to hold the office that some members of the Russian government and former FBI director James Comey helped him win.

It was just a couple weeks ago when a 22-year old British Muslim named Salman Ramadan Abedi detonated a shrapnel bomb at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, taking the lives of twenty-three children and adults and leaving 119 people injured.

Sean Urbanski and victim Richard W. Collins
With the people of the United Kingdom still reeling from that heinous act of terrorism, at a time when people need leadership and strength, Trump offered his usual mix of divisiveness, uninformed drivel and outright buffoonery.

He drew widespread condemnation from political leaders both here and around the globe today for using the attacks to attack political correctness and disrespect the mayor of London Sadiq Khan by totally mischaracterizing the words of a statement he'd released.

What's interesting is that while Trump was quick to take to Twitter to make a moronic attempt to criticize advocates of gun control because UK police shot and killed all three attackers who used a van and knives to slaughter innocent people, he's been virtually silent on the death of African-American Bowie State University student Richard Collins, III.

It was about 3:05am just a few weeks ago back on Saturday May 20th that Collins was stabbed in the chest and killed by a white student named Sean Christopher Urbanski on the campus of the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland while waiting for an Uber driver to come pick him and two friends up.

Urbanski is a resident of Severna Park, Maryland who was a University of Maryland student and a member of a Facebook group called 'Alt-Reich: Nation' (which has since been deleted) where members posted a mix of offensive racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim content.

He didn't know Collins, or the two friends who were with him when the attack occurred, a white male and a young woman of Asian descent.

Like 28-year-old James Harris Jackson who stabbed 68-year-old Timothy Caughman with a sword on a New York City street back in March, Urbanski targeted and attacked Collins because of his race and skin color.

Collins was a graduate of the Bowie State School of Business and the school's ROTC program and had been commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army two days before he was killed.

Graduation gown placed in memory of Richard Collins
at the University of Maryland commencement
Trump, who campaigned on divisiveness, intolerance and bigotry, and counts known white supremacists among his top White House advisors, said virtually nothing about the killing.

But the silence from the federal government, particularly the Department of Justice is particularly deafening.

As NPR reported Collins' killing is being investigated as a hate crime, but how much solace does that give to the family and friends of Richard Collins?

There is little doubt about what kind of crime it was.

The University of Maryland, which was rocked by the unprovoked attack, also placed a cap and gown in honor of Collins at it's commencement ceremony as well, where they observed a moment of silence in his honor.

As Colin Campbell reported in an article in the Baltimore Sun back on May 23rd, Collins' family received a lengthy and emotional standing ovation as they came to accept his degree which was awarded posthumously at Bowie State University's commencement ceremony.

Given the widespread increase in hate crimes and hate activity across the United States in the wake of Trump's election and a resurgence in white supremacist activity, the manner of Collins' death took on a larger meaning in a historical context as Bowie State was the first Historically Black College / University (HBCU) founded in the state of Maryland back in 1865 as a teachers college.

It's one of the ten oldest HBCU's in America.

During the ceremony Bowie State President Mickey Burnim noted that:

"one of our graduates - in the prime of his life - has fallen victim to an unprovoked assault, in yet one more manifestation of the senseless violence permeating our society."  

A violence fueled, in no small part, by the divisive rhetoric and cultural intolerance cultivated by the man who would be president and many of the advisers who surround him.

Jeremy Joseph Christian ranting at his arraignment
in a Portland courtroom last week 
For a man who assured the nation that he wanted to represent all Americans at his inauguration, Trump's inability to offer at least some kind of substantive or meaningful statement on Collins' killing is inexcusable.

And evidence of his administration's undivided loyalty to the radical alt-right base whose support helped propel him into the White House last fall.

Trump's silence was also evident in Portland last week.

As the entire globe expressed shock and outrage after known white supremacist Jeremy Joseph Christian boarded a crowded light rail train car in Portland and began loudly berating two young Muslim women before stabbing and killing two people (and seriously wounding another) who attempted to come to intervene and come to their aid - Trump said nothing.  

As Renee Graham observed in an article in the Boston Globe, Trump finally released a terse, generic cookie-cutter comment about the incident via Twitter a full three days after the attack.

And then only after being widely criticized by millions of people on social media, including former CBS anchorman and journalist Dan Rather.

Equally disturbing, as noted by Williamette Week reporter Corey Pein during a recent interview on NPR's On the Media, are efforts by right wing media to attempt to characterize Christian as some kind of leftist radical and deny the fact that not only was he a white supremacist with Neo Nazi beliefs - and that he specifically targeted two innocent women because of their faith and skin color.

A kind of bizarre knee-jerk, ostrich head-in-the-sand reaction from right wing media pundits attempting to shield Trump from the responsibility he faces in openly courting fringe extremists and mainstreaming bigotry and intolerance.

Mississippi State Rep. Karl Oliver
Did you hear about Mississippi State Representative Karl Oliver calling for people who supported the removal of Confederate statues to be "lynched" on his Facebook page?

He wrote that on the very same day that Richard Collins was killed in by Sean Urbanski in Maryland.

Trump's unwillingness to even acknowledge the numerous incidents of domestic terrorism against victims who are people of color or Muslim is also evidence that he views terrorism solely through the narrow prism of brown-skinned attackers who commit heinous acts in the name of a warped interpretation of Islam against mostly white victims.

It's also evidence that his outrage over terrorism is based solely on the skin color, ethnicity and religion of the victims.

Trump's views on terrorism, much like his ethics, are situational at best.

Like I said, it's difficult to try and fathom the depths of depravity to which some people in this world will sink to kill or harm innocent people in the name of their own ideology.

It's even harder to fathom a sitting president who chooses to ignore heinous terrorist acts simply because they don't fit into the narrative of the ideology that he and those around him adhere to.

Whether it be in London, Portland or Kabul, terror is terror - except, apparently, to Donald Trump.

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