A Victory Lap in Blood

Forty-nine people die in Orlando, Florida, and Donald Trump wants a pat on the back.

Chris O'Meara / AP

Congratulations, Donald Trump.

To be clear, congratulations are not in order because you’re tough and vigilant. You are late to that party: President George W. Bush declared war on terrorism in 2002 and handed it over to President Barack Obama, who tweaked the rhetoric and strategy but nonetheless kept up the fight. Together, the Bush and Obama regimes have killed tens of thousands of Islamic extremists, along with countless innocents.

You were not right on radical Islamic terrorism. But you are doing right by radical Islamic terrorism.

You are giving legitimacy to ISIS’s nefarious interpretation of a peaceful religion.

You are helping ISIS recruit terrorists.

You are dividing Americans at a time when all Americans most need to be united.

So congratulations.

A lot to unpack in that tweet:

  • What happened in Orlando is not the beginning. It is the latest in a series of attacks on U.S. interests that began in the Clinton administration, if not sooner.
  • You didn’t call it. You didn’t warn that an American man named Omar Mateen, a well-educated security guard investigated by the FBI for suspected ties to terrorism, would legally purchase a weapon made for warfare and use it to slaughter 49 people at a popular gay nightclub.
  • You did demand a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” But the proposal was so constitutionally suspect and poorly considered that you abandoned “total and complete” and called the ban “temporary.” Then you completed the full flip-flop, saying the ban was “only a suggestion.”

Now, apparently, you’re for the ban again—despite the fact that Mateen was a U.S.-born son of Afghan immigrants. Or does “the ban” now extend to Muslim-Americans? Will ethnic cleansing be a hallmark of your presidency?

Obama won’t mention the phrase because he thinks doing so would embolden ISIS and alienate the 3.3 million Muslims in America, a patriotic and largely assimilated community that is a bulwark against domestic terrorism.

Obama shouldn’t resign, but you should consider a different line of work after suggesting today that the president might somehow be involved in the Orlando massacre. A baseless, disgraceful lie.

You could argue that it’s important to give the enemy a name. OK, let’s do that:

Islamic extremism. Islamic extremism. Islamic extremism.

Radical Islam. Radical Islam. Radical Islam.

Wait for it… No, ISIS didn’t crumble.

You’re wrong, Donald Trump. Words don’t win wars.

But your words do undermine the commander-in-chief. Your words do exploit fears, stir prejudices, and divide Americans. Your words might even win you the election.

Which is the point, right? In March, you said talk about terrorist attacks “is probably why I’m number one in the polls.”

Forty-nine innocent people dead and you took a victory lap in their blood.