There’s a growing deadly threat in America but Donald Trump refuses to call it by its name: white supremacist terrorism. In the last three months alone we’ve seen four Americans killed by white supremacists. Now if Muslim extremists had killed four Americans in that time period we all know Trump would be ranting about “radical Islamic terrorism”—a phrase he loves to use except when in Saudi Arabia.
We saw another white supremacist terror attack over the weekend in Portland, Oregon. There, Jeremy Joseph Christian, a 35-year-old white man, was on a local train spewing anti-Muslim and other racist remarks. When three good Samaritans stood up to Christian’s hateful comments, he stabbed them, killing two people who truly represented the best of America: Namkai Meche and Ricky John Best.
Christian’s history of white supremacist views are well-documented. As the media reported, he had been a “vocal participant” in a recent alt-right rally in Portland where he was seen giving a Nazi salute. And he had posted on Facebook Neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic material, including catchphrases used by well-known white supremacist Richard Spencer.
How did Trump respond to this attack? Well, finally on Monday, three days after the stabbing, the official White House Twitter account for POTUS tweeted: “The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them.”
At least someone in the White House thought this issue was important to tweet about—although it was unlikely Trump himself. Trump didn’t mention the attack on his personal Twitter account, nor did he event retweet the POTUS tweet there, although he did tweet a great deal about “fake news” and Russiagate.
Yet the threat of white supremacist terror in the time of Trump appears to be growing. Just last week another young white man who had joined the “Alt-Reich” Facebook group that spewed hate of African Americans, Jews, and others, stabbed and killed 23-year-old African-American Richard Collins, a recently commissioned U.S. Army second lieutenant. The judge presiding over the case denied bail calling the attacker “an absolute danger to the community,” and the FBI is looking into whether this unprovoked murder of Collins was a hate crime.
And in March we saw another murder by a young white male who had espoused white supremacist views. James Jackson, 28, had traveled from his home in Baltimore to New York City for the express purpose of killing black men because their dating of white women disgusted him. And Jackson did just that, randomly killing 66-year-old Timothy Caughman on a New York City street corner. Thankfully the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office charged Jackson with not just a hate crime but also with terrorism, noting that Jackson’s goal was to “launch a campaign of terrorism.”
Despite these attacks, one of which has been formally charged as terrorism, Trump refuses to call these acts what they are: white supremacist terrorism. The hypocrisy is especially laughable given that during the campaign Trump slammed Hillary Clinton constantly for refusing to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” to describe ISIS inspired attacks. As Trump repeated during the campaign while going after Hillary, “Now, to solve a problem, you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least say the name. She won’t say the name.” But interestingly, now Trump refuses to say “the name” when it comes to white terrorists.
If you think the attacks over the last few months are the only violent white supremacists out there you are dangerously kidding yourself. In September, three white men who called themselves “The Crusaders” were arrested for plotting to commit a terrorist attack in Kansas to slaughter Muslim-Somali immigrants living there. These men, per the FBI, had espoused “anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant extremist beliefs.”
In December, self-professed white supremacist Glendon Scott Crawford was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for planning to build a radioactive bomb to kill Muslim Americans in upstate New York. And in February, Robert Doggart was convicted in federal court for planning to attack Muslim Americans and burn down mosques. Although it appears that Doggart, a Christian minister, was more of a radical Christian terrorist than a white supremacist. (You can forget Trump ever saying the words “radical Christian terrorist.”)
Will Trump remain silent on the threat of white supremacist terrorism until we see another Dylann Roof-type attack where nine African Americans are murdered in the hopes of starting a race war? Or until we see an American version of the February terrorist attack in Canada where yet another young white man who had expressed anti-immigrant views walked into a mosque and murdered six Muslims simply because of their faith?
I’m in no way suggesting we should ignore the threat of ISIS-inspired terrorism and just focus on white supremacist terror. After all it was just one year ago in June that we saw the horrific Orlando terrorist attack that left 49 dead at the Pulse nightclub.
But there’s clearly a threat from the right that Trump refuses to call out by name. As the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented, the list of white national groups is alarmingly long with hubs in almost every state. If these extremists go unchecked, I can assure you that more Americans will die at the hands of these racists. The question is how many more innocent Americans have to be killed by white supremacist terrorism before Trump will call it what it is?!