I have said it before and I will say it again, Donald Trump has to remember that he is not a reality television star anymore and he is not a political pundit, he is the President of the United States. However, Trump keeps acting completely inappropriate at the most inopportune and delicate times.
The last example follows a terrorist attack in New York that left eight people dead and more than a dozen injured. Trump was quick to blame the Democrats and immigrants in relation to the crime. Taking to Twitter as always, to spew out his thoughts in real time, without getting all of the facts, and later, as per usual, finding a way not to apologize for it.
The alleged terrorist, Sayfullo Saipov, 29, a father of three and Uzbeki national who lived in New Jersey with his wife, used a rented Home Depot pickup truck to mow down bicyclists and pedestrians on a bike path in lower Manhattan on Halloween. The victims had no idea what was about to happen to them. A note claiming the attack was made in the name of the terrorist group ISIS was found near the truck, according to media reports.
How did Trump handle the situation? The next day he took to Twitter to blame U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer who authored legislation in 1990 called the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which created a green card lottery that allowed Saipov to enter the United States seven years ago.
Trump was quick in his decision to blame Democrats and neglected to mention that Schumer’s bill was passed under a larger immigration package by former Republican President George H. W. Bush and that Schumer tried to repeal the legislation in 2013, but the Republican controlled House refused to take up the matter. Firing back, Schumer aptly noted that Trump’s budget proposal makes cuts to anti-terrorism funding.
I agree with Governor Cuomo who said of Trump’s tweets, “I think they tended to point fingers and politicize the situation.”
In addition, following the NYC incident, Trump tweeted that immigration regulations need to be strengthened including his policy of extreme vetting, a stringent immigration test, which attempts to establish whether an applicant’s beliefs are in line with US values on issues like gay rights, gender equality and religious freedom. It also excludes applicants from countries where proper screenings cannot take place, but Trump has not named what those places are. Also, keep in mind that Trump’s so-called Muslim Ban did not include Uzbekistan, the country Saipov comes from.
Although there is no question that swift action needs to be taken against Saipov, if he is convicted, Trump went a step further, making himself judge and jury in the case and tweeting that Saipov deserves the death penalty. He said this even before the suspect was formally charged with providing support to ISIS and violence and destruction of motor vehicles. Nowhere in the Commander-in-Chief’s official job duties does it say he should be adjudicating criminal cases, and the fact that he thinks it’s ok for him to do so, even via tweet, is alarming.
As usual President Trump is setting a terrible example for the country. He is pandering to his right wing base and keeping with the message that it’s OK to rush to judgement without all the facts; that all Muslims are probably terrorists and therefore the right to a fair and speedy trial can be tossed out the window; and, of course, always use tragedies as opportunities to point the finger of blame at your opposing political party. In a diverse city such as New York City, and in Queens, the city’s most diverse borough, this is not the message we should be conveying to adults and it is certainly not something we want infecting the minds of our children.