In recent days, President Donald Trump has dramatically changed the way the White House responds to terrorist attacks on our allies — from sympathy to sensationalism.
In direct response to the attack in London, Trump chose condemnation in lieu of words of sorrow and solidarity: "At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is "no reason to be alarmed!"
Rather than offer compassion, Trump used the London terrorist attack to generate support for his proposed travel ban. Early on June 5, Donald Trump tweeted:
This tweet refers to the "moderate" March version of Trump's January executive order, banning immigration and travel from several countries with predominantly Muslim populations. After being struck down, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to reconsider on June 1.
However, Trump's initial tweet quoting Khan distorted his statement. Khan merely explained that "Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. There's no reason to be alarmed."
This consolation didn't stop Trump from pursuing his attack on both London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the mainstream media:
Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. ambassador to the UK, Lewis Lukens, both implicitly defied Trump's approach, praising Khan's response to the London attack.
While Trump has a clear political agenda to advance terrorist-centric foreign policy and national security, it seems he will jump on any opportunity — or tragedy — to make that known.
Despite the worldwide backlash to Trump's response, his words hold some value. Instead of a rote response, Trump prepared an honest analysis, consistent with his beliefs, despite aggressive undertones and mischaracterizations, that resonate with his supporters.
Politicizing terror has been a key strategy for Trump to justify his other political goals. He intends cut federal funding from "sanctuary cities." Even his hometown of New York City, a pledged sanctuary city, will lose $190 million dollars from Homeland Security under his new restrictions.
Terrorists succeed if our country is divided. Rather than sensationalize tragedy, Trump's message should promote unity instead of fear. Hostile tweets may garner support from his voters, but they may strengthen divisions in the long run.
Yet Trump's recent international trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel may offer some hope. Although the President's anti-terror rhetoric is too abrasive, his foreign policy agenda indicates potential for much success.
Rather than exploit terror across the world, moving forward as a country united is critical to ensuring domestic security. And while Trump's rhetoric seems to have only divided us further, he is certainly capable of promoting peace at home and abroad.
Doug Schoen is a Democratic pollster, strategist, and best-selling author. His latest book is "Putin's Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence."
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