You can support our writing with a small donation on Patreon or PayPal! By the time this article is published, it will have been nine days since the FBI announced a successful operation to stop three white males from committing an act of terrorism in Garden City, Kansas; it will have been eight days since Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a statement praising the law enforcement for their diligent work in disrupting the terrorists:
— Laura Rosenberger (@rosenbergerlm) October 15, 2016
And it will likely be the ninth-and-counting day in which Republican Presidential Nominee Donald John Trump has refused to acknowledge this terrorist plot, despite evidence of at least one of the terrorists being a supporter of Trump's campaign:
— Casey Michel (@cjcmichel) October 14, 2016
There's certainly a possibility of Trump deciding, between the time of this writing and the time of publish, to finally release a statement condemning this domestic terrorism. A very small possibility, for sure, but a possibility nonetheless.
We can probably feel uncomfortably safe that he won't.
Donald Trump certainly cares about terrorism. During the final Presidential Debate on Wednesday, he was awfully concerned about refugees from war-torn countries entering the United States while having ties to ISIS. His foreign policy is willfully secretive due to ignorantly believing the act of openly discussing future operations—such as the plan to take Mosul back from Islamic State—ruins any chance of success for our military, but he's been very clear on making ISIS a top priority.
His disconnect seems to come from the assumption domestic terrorism doesn't exist. All terrorism, in Trump's worldview, originates from foreign locales. When he can't rely on color or religion to stoke fear, he's not interested.
The Pulse shooting? Trump was quick to the spotlight with accusations of islamic involvement:
Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
Dylann Roof murdering black congregants of a historically black church in Charleston? Trump's only mention was to give condolences:
The tragedy in South Carolina is incomprehensible. My deepest condolences to all.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2015
No condemnation of right-wing terrorism, no accusation of radical right-wing involvement—nothing like the statement about Pulse. In fact, the man who committed the tragedy at Pulse was never found by U.S. intelligence agencies to have any ties with islamic terrorist groups; Roof, by comparison, had been in contact with white supremacists for quite some time.
Willful or not, ignorance makes Trump a weak leader.
Islamic State certainly deserves focus in our foreign policy. While Trump's claim of ISIS being in 32 countries is misleading, they still remain a threatening organization committing atrocities which demand international cooperation to prevent.
However, Trump has no definitive policy on how to handle the group. When the topic was brought up in the final debate, he could only offer a recommendation to be nicer to Russia so they'll help fight ISIS. How would they fight ISIS? Nobody knows. Trump reiterated wanting to be secretive, but couldn't hint at any substantial proposals on future operations. Instead, he fell back to repeatedly accusing Hillary Clinton of helping create ISIS. At one point, he even stated the attack on Mosul was organized solely to help Clinton win the election.
This was Donald's weakest moment in the entire debate—weaker even than his repeated citation of conspiracy theories peddled by a man infamous for selectively editing videos to create the illusion of scandal. He could've appeared at least slightly better if he'd just said, "I'll do what she's doing."
That's because Clinton—who had first response to the topic raised by Chris Wallace—laid out proposals showing preparation and a strong knowledge of foreign affairs:
No U.S. troops on the ground; after taking back Mosul, move on Syria; focus on ISIS headquarters in Raqqa; a no-fly zone to halt bombing runs led by Russia and Assad; safe havens within Syria to protect citizens from the civil war; an intelligence surge which includes negating Islamic State influence online; and gaining leverage to force Assad, Russia, and other forces into non-violent negotiations.
Further positioning herself as a strong leader, Clinton did not deny her initial support for the invasion of Iraq. Contrast her ownership of a politically damaging decision with Trump's denial of his own words and his Vice President Mike Pence repeatedly claiming Trump never said the things he very much did.
In accepting responsibility for her Iraq vote, she also discussed the political landscape surrounding Mosul. Has anyone ever heard Trump use the word Sunni in describing anything, ever? Does he even know Islam has various sects in the same way Christianity does?
His ignorance is threadbare in his barely coherent responses to handling Islamic State terrorism.
The "extreme vetting" he proposes has never been outlined beyond ideological purity tests, and he doesn't seem to be aware of the ~2 years of vetting all refugees must already undergo before entering the United States. ISIS has become his most cherished buzzword because he feels we are domestically at risk of Islamic State attacks.
We're not at risk. Or, at least, we're four times as likely to be killed by far-right extremists within the United States than we are anyone tied to Islamic State and their associated groups. A strong leader would not only condemn such extremism but lay out plans on how to reduce the casualties.
On this front, Clinton hasn't been perfect—but she's done far more. She encouraged law enforcement efforts to track down such extremists, and has repeatedly pushed for protection of the people most likely to be victimized by them. Gun control has been a key feature of her campaigning as well, which would assist in flagging dangerous individuals for surveillance.
As a nation, we certainly do need to push Clinton further in counteracting the same rebirth of mainstream neo-nazism she publicly addressed in a speech about the "alt-right".
But given her willingness to put a spotlight to the dangerous elements which have long festered just beneath the surface of the United States, she seems the only one capable within this election of directing the government to find viable solutions.
Clinton shows the knowledge and compassion to be a strong leader. Donald Trump has only proven to be a weak, low-energy populist hoping you'll mistake his lack of a clue as the brilliance of a big leaguer. Nine days is long enough for a failure to condemn white nationalist-terrorism to be seen as either the absence of concern for vulnerable citizens, or the implicit support of terrorist ideology.
Or maybe he just had more pressing matters on his mind:
Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me.Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2016