A Burned Down Black Church Shows President Trump Wouldn’t Condemn His Own Terrorists

The stakes of the election couldn’t be clearer from Greenville, Mississippi where “Vote Trump” was spray painted on the charred remains of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church.

Handout / Reuters

Editor's Note: Six weeks after the fire, 45-year-old Andrew McClinton, a member of the church, was charged with burning it down.

GREENVILLE, Mississippi — The latest instance of the insanity this election has wrought took place on a dead-end street in a black neighborhood, where someone burned a 111-year-old baptist church and wrote “Vote Trump” on the side.Hillary Clinton immediately took to Twitter to condemn the act, saying, “This kind of hate has no place in America.” It was signed “H” to show it was from Clinton herself. But when it came to the burning of a black church in his own name, Trump’s little fingers didn’t touch his favorite means of reaching millions of supporters, Twitter. Instead, his campaign issued a boilerplate statement.So these are stakes of this election: a potential president who would not even condemn in his own words terrorism done in his own name.The inside of the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church looked like a deranged modern art exhibit when viewed on Friday afternoon. Pews, an organ, the podium for the Bible—all covered in what looked black paint. It was instead soot from the flames that licked up the walls and busted out the windows, burning so hot that firefighters at first had to watch it burn before finally being able to approach the building to try to save it.They failed.“We will rebuild,” said Marshall Wilson, a Greenville native and a deacon at the church for the last 38 years. The church will have the help of more than $200,000 raised online in the last few days.“It’s overwhelming,” Wilson told The Daily Beast on Friday afternoon.Whether the arsonist was a Trump supporter, someone hoping to throw off the authorities—although Wilson noted no one in the community that he knows of has every had a problem with church, especially not enough of one to spark flames—or someone else hoping to wreak some havoc of their own, is now up to authorities to find out.“What the Devil do, whoever did this, his plan’s not gonna work,” Wilson said. “God’s got a plan for everything.”So do a lot of other people.They include the three men who are accused of planning to bomb a Somali mosque in Kansas, a crime that has federal authorities referring to the men as domestic terrorists. “The only way to turn around this country is a bloodbath,” one member of the group said in a phone call recorded by law enforcement.The men were arrested in October after an eight-month long investigation.Somali immigrants, a largely Muslim community, were targeted in North Dakota as well. Police eventually arrested a man for firebombing a Somali cafe there in December, writing “Go home” in spray paint on a window.But the string of violence against minorities this election season may have begun in August 2015, when two men in Boston beat and urinated on a homeless Hispanic man simply because of his race, allegedly invoking Trump in the attack.“Donald Trump was right; all of these illegals need to be deported,” one of the men said after he was arrested, according to police.The GOP presidential candidate, in characteristically spineless fashion, said then he “would never condone violence” from his supporters. Our possible next president did not say, unequivocally, that he did not condone this specific act, because that wouldn’t fit into the dog whistle nature of his candidacy. During a press conference following the attack, Trump took his non-condemnation a step further, saying his supporters are “very passionate,” and that they “just want this country to be great again.”For some of those supporters, that greatness is best shown by beating the hell out of someone who is a different color than you.But the Trump-related violence didn’t stop there. The Daily Beast in March compiled a list of violent confrontations between Trump supporters and protesters at the GOP candidate’s rallies. At that time, Trump’s mostly white gang of thugs had roughed up men and women in at least six incidents, including one that month in which a white man cold-cocked a black protester. Trump at the time pledged to pay the attacker’s defense fees.Like virtually everything that Trump promises, that ended up not happening. Some protesters, however, have taken legal action and are seeking $1 million in damages for the violence inflicted on them at Trump rallies.Finally, and most ironically for the “law and order candidate,” is the man who killed two Iowa police officers in early November. A Trump-Pence lawn sign was planted in the front yard of the home where Scott Greene lived and we know that he is angry enough at blacks to record himself waving a Confederate flag in the faces of African-Americans at a high school football game. Police escorted Greene out following the incident. The Trump tweet came first, then one from Clinton, expressing condolences for the families of the two fallen officers.Clinton’s tweet condemning the arson at the Greenville church compared to Trump’s silence on his chosen platform is an important distinction to make. Twitter is the place where Trump is at his most “unshackled” where he regularly berates and bullies opponents, reporters, citizens, foreign leaders and whomever else chooses to question his manhood, sanity, or bonafides as a presidential candidate or basic human being. It’s also where he pushes conspiracy theories and fake news, where he utilizes plagiarism as a campaign tactic, and where he occasionally blames interns of questionable existence for insulting the entire state of Iowa.That Trump had nothing to say on his own about the church doesn’t bother Deacon Wilson.“The church was still smoking when the firemen brought out the Bible,” he said as investigators continued to comb through the wreckage on Friday afternoon. “It hadn’t been touched. You can’t burn God’s word.”