Donald Trump has given varying responses to terror attacks in the USFlickr

On 1st October, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of 22,000 on the Las Vegas Strip, leaving 58 people dead and 546 injured. In that hour Stephen Paddock, a white male from Mesquite, Nevada, fired hundreds of rifle rounds into a crowd at a country music festival. Of those killed, 6 were from Nevada, 35 from California, 13 from other states, and 4 were from Canada. The attack is, to date, the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States.

Nearly a month later, on 31st October, Sayfullo Habibullaevich Saipov, an Uzbek immigrant, drove a pickup truck into cyclists and runners in Lower Manhattan, killing eight people and injuring eleven others. A flag and a document indicating allegiance to Islamic State were found in the truck. Of the victims, two were from America, whilst the others were foreign nationals; five from Argentina and one from Belgium.

The day after the Las Vegas attack Donald Trump sent two tweets, one about the US golf team winning the President Cup, another which simply read: “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!” Uncharacteristically, he did not make another tweet until the following day, which stated: “I am so proud of our great Country. God bless America!” Oh the irony. One of the most vocal presidents in US history, after the deadliest gun attack his nation had ever seen, had 19 words to say on the subject.

Contrast this with his activity after the New York attack. In the 48 hours that followed the attack, Trump posted 11 tweets relating to the event, in which he called the assailant “deranged”, saying he “SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!”, the attack “horrifying” and that he had reached out to the New York mayor and governor to offer them federal support. He also launched a political attack on the system that had allowed the perpetrator into the country and made a public statement on the events of the day. If you don’t think this was an even-handed response, neither did he, saying: “Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”

“His response to a situation sets the mood of the nation, and right now that mood is a divisive one”

The difference in reaction from the president over these two attacks only reminds us of the crooked ideology and startling isolationist sentiment occupying the US administration at the moment. I’m not saying that one attack should be taken more seriously than another, but they can be compared quantitatively: 58 people dead is a lot more than 8. The Las Vegas attack showed in stark terms that an act of terrorism can be perpetrated by a white man; it doesn’t necessarily have to be a foreigner or Muslim person and doesn’t have to be in allegiance to any Islamic extremist group, doing away with the very rhetoric and policy that got Trump elected. The New York attack showed that, yes, Islamic State still poses a threat, but it is a threat that is so undermined that their lone wolves are having to resort to pick-up trucks and vans to knock down a few people.

The administrative consequences are obvious. Like it or not, Trump is the authoritative voice of executive leadership and power. His response to a situation sets the mood of the nation, and right now that mood is a divisive one. It’s not Trump’s overwhelming response, fuelled by Islamophobia, to the New York attack that is the problem; it’s his underwhelming response to the Las Vegas attack. It’s that, because it was perpetrated by a white man, it should be on a governmental level taken less seriously than one done in the name of IS.


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Behaving with such obvious bias at an executive level will likely continue to galvanise support for terrorist organisations from those already disenfranchised and dissatisfied with the politics of America. This is not to say marginalisation always leads to terror, or that Trump is causing people to become terrorists, just that he typifies the attitude in America and on a wider scale in the West right now.

I’m not saying to counteract Trump’s prejudice we should pacify ourselves to ethnic terrorists – although I don’t believe they should be put to death, and should instead stand fair trial – but the president should accept responsibility as a commanding voice for the nation and treat all terrorism with the same even-handed justice that separates us from totalitarianism

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