Give credit where credit is due. President Donald Trump’s first response to Tuesday’s deadly attacks in New York City was fine. “In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person,” Trump tweeted. “Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!” Sure, it’s weird to declare “NOT IN THE U.S.A.!” after an attack has just occurred in the U.S.A. But Trump didn’t incite hatred and he didn’t lie. His second and third tweets were comparatively mild too.
Can he keep it up? It’s unlikely Trump will stay silent. When the terrorists aren’t Muslim, he’s quite capable of holding his tongue. He said nothing about the six people killed at mosque in Quebec City in January. He was similarly quiet when an African American man was stabbed in a racially motivated attack in New York in March, and when a white supremacist stabbed another African American man in College Park, Maryland, in May. He took six days to address the murder of an Indian American outside Kansas City in February and three after a white supremacist murdered two people on a Portland, Oregon, train in May.
But when the killers are Muslim, Trump grows voluble. And his theme is usually: Muslims have too many rights. After an attack in Paris in November 2015, he told MSNBC that if elected, he’d “strongly consider” closing mosques. That December, after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, he proposed a temporary ban on Muslim immigration to the United States. The following June, after Omar Mateen killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub, Trump called the Obama administration’s plan to admit Syrian refugees a “better, bigger, more horrible version than the legendary Trojan Horse ever was.” He also claimed that American “Muslims … know what’s going on. They know that he was bad. They knew the people in San Bernardino were bad. But you know what? They didn’t turn them in.”