Early in the morning of 5 August, an assailant hurled a bomb through a window at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minneapolis. The device detonated, causing extensive damage to the building. Fortunately, no one was injured in the blast.
What would a caring society do after such a frightful event? A caring society would investigate the attack, as the FBI currently is. The chance that this was an act of terrorism in a Minneapolis suburb remains high. A week earlier, swastikas and other hate-filled graffiti (“leave you R Dead”) had been found scrawled at a Muslim cemetery in a nearby township.
This is important because, according to law enforcement officials in Minnesota, there were already a record 14 anti-Muslim bias incidents in the state last year. This rise follows a national disturbing national trend.
Last month, the Council on American-Islamic Relations released a report that found that, nationally, “the number of hate crimes in the first half of 2017 spiked 91% compared to the same period in 2016,” which had previously been a record-breaking year.
In a caring society, elected leaders would bring people together after such an attack. The Minnesota governor, Mark Dayton, condemned the bombing, calling it “an act of terrorism” and vowing to do all he could to put a stop to such things. The Minnesota senator Al Franken told a crowd of hundreds who had gathered to support their Muslim American neighbors: “What happened Saturday morning was an attack on all of us.”
In a caring society, fellow citizens would show each other support. Since the bombing, the congregation in Bloomington has received an inspiring outpouring of support from the surrounding community. Such support is enormously important, because that’s how you take a crime that seeks to divide people from each other and transform it into a movement that unites people in opposition to violence and hatred.
Now, guess what? The caring society stops there. The Trump administration doesn’t want unity. In fact, doctrinally, it aspires to division.
It should come as no surprise that Donald Trump has said nothing about the attack, though he is notoriously quick to comment on attacks perpetrated by Muslims. But his silence is hardly the worst of it.
On MSNBC, Sebastian Gorka, a White House adviser and former Breitbart contributor, suggested that the attack was actually a fake. “We’ve had a series of crimes committed, alleged hate crimes, by rightwing individuals in the last six months that turned out to actually have been propagated by the left,” he said.
This is insanity.
Never mind that the number of false reports of hate crimes in the wave of violence following the election of Donald Trump was just over a measly 1% (13 out of 1,094). There is another, larger problem with Gorka’s logic.
Why should it even matter if the perpetrator was from the “left”, the “right”, or even from Mars? When a president weighs in on such matters, he is not adjudicating guilt or innocence. He is speaking for a country concerned about the welfare and security of everyone in the nation. He is reiterating our common destiny as Americans.
Not so with Trump. While Gorka suggested that the president may issue such a statement in the future, I’m certainly not holding my breath. Why? Because Gorka’s comments reflect something deeper and much more insidious about this administration.
What’s long been clear from this White House is that Donald Trump has absolutely no interest in being the president of all Americans. His statements and actions are always calculated to appeal narrowly to his core constituency in order to further the divisions and hatreds in our society, thereby reinforcing his base.
In the past couple of weeks alone, this administration has been telling us that immigrants are criminals, that white people are discriminated against in college admissions and that only English speakers should be admitted to the country.
Gorka’s comments and Trump’s actions show that this administration is more than willing to sacrifice different segments of the American public to keep itself in power. They seek no other way.
The situation is bigger than a bomb in Minnesota. Will we permit this administration to treat the security of individual minorities as simply disposable? How could we? To do so would be to surrender not only our own individual futures, but also all our possibilities as a unified nation.