Dear Commons Community,
Donald Trump again embarrassed the Office of the Presidency by retweeting three videos from an ultranationalist British organization showing Muslims committing acts of violence. Reaction from within the United States and abroad was swift and critical of Trump’s action. As reported by the New York Times:
“President Trump touched off another racially charged furor on Wednesday by sharing videos from a fringe British ultranationalist group purportedly showing Muslims committing acts of violence, a move that was swiftly condemned by Britain’s prime minister as well as politicians across the spectrum.
The videos Mr. Trump retweeted were titled: “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” and “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” But the assailant in one of them was not a “Muslim migrant” and the other two showed four-year-old events with no explanation.
No modern American president has promoted inflammatory content of this sort from an extremist organization. Mr. Trump’s two most recent predecessors, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both made a point of avoiding public messages that were likely to be seen as anti-Muslim and could exacerbate racial and religious animosities, arguing that the war against terrorism was not a war against Islam.
But Mr. Trump has shown little such restraint, targeting Muslims with a broad brush, including when he claimed on the campaign trail last year that “Islam hates us” and when he called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims coming to the United States. Since taking office, he has sought to block visitors from select Muslim-majority nations and engaged in a long-distance feud with the Muslim mayor of London, whom he branded weak on terrorism.
The messages came at a time when Mr. Trump has been lashing out at an array of perceived adversaries, including the National Football League, CNN, NBC and Democratic leaders. He referred to a senator as “Pocahontas” this week in front of Navajo veterans he was honoring. In a meandering speech in St. Charles, Mo., on Wednesday, Mr. Trump labeled North Korea’s leader a “sick puppy,” asserted that welfare recipients lived better than some people with jobs, noted that his wealthy friends “love their children” and insisted that he did not like some bankers even though he was making their job “easy for them.”
Mr. Trump’s unbridled talk of Muslim violence thrilled some conservative supporters who see him as a truthteller breaking from the shackles of political correctness, but it alarmed mainstream political leaders in the United States and Britain, who deemed it reckless and counterproductive.
Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, who has broken with Mr. Trump, called the postings “highly inappropriate” and added, “I hope he takes them down and doesn’t do it again.”
Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who lately has been an ally of the president, said Mr. Trump was “legitimizing religious bigotry” with the Twitter posts. “We need Muslim allies in the war on terror,” he said. “I can only imagine how some of our Muslim allies must feel when the president gives legitimacy to it.”
The reaction was sharp in London, where Prime Minister Theresa May, the leader of the Conservative Party, denounced the president for sharing material posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, the ultranationalist group. “It is wrong for the president to have done this,” Mrs. May’s office said in a statement. “Britain First seeks to divide communities by their use of hateful narratives that peddle lies and stoke tensions. They cause anxiety to law-abiding people.”
David Lammy, a Labour Party member of Parliament, echoed that on Twitter. “Trump sharing Britain First,” he wrote. “Let that sink in. The President of the United States is promoting a fascist, racist, extremist hate group whose leaders have been arrested and convicted. He is no ally or friend of ours.”
The American presidency continues to sink to new depths during the current administration. More seriously, as was stated today on the MSNBC Morning Joe program, we have to question whether Trump has “the intellect or emotion to carry out his responsibilities.”