Mr. Trump tweets out hate

The pres­i­dent’s retweets of anti-Mus­lim videos are be­yond the pale.

The Washington Post - - POWER POST -

JAYDA FRANSEN is the deputy leader of the far-right na­tion­al­ist party Bri­tain First. In 2016, a Bri­tish court con­victed her of harassment af­ter she yelled abuse at a woman wear­ing a hi­jab. One year later, she faces new charges of in­cit­ing re­li­gious ha­tred af­ter al­legedly dis­tribut­ing racist leaflets and post­ing hate­ful videos dur­ing a rape trial. On Wed­nes­day, Pres­i­dent Trump retweeted three of her Twit­ter posts pro­mot­ing anti-Mus­lim videos.

Mr. Trump’s tweets are of­ten ab­surd and de­mean­ing — both to the tar­gets of his abuse and to those who must rit­u­ally re­spond to the lat­est in­stance of un­pres­i­den­tial con­duct. The pres­i­dent is skilled at us­ing his Twit­ter ac­count to sow con­fu­sion and anger. But we can­not ig­nore that some be­hav­ior is sim­ply be­yond the pale. The of­fice of Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May said it best: “It is wrong for the pres­i­dent to have done this.”

Mr. Trump tweeted out three videos posted by Ms. Fransen: “Mus­lim mi­grant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” “Mus­lim De­stroys a Statue of Vir­gin Mary!” “Is­lamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” The tweets would have been rep­re­hen­si­ble in any case. But Ms. Hansen’s posts were mis­lead­ing. The as­sailant in the first video is not a mi­grant: Dutch au­thor­i­ties say he was “born and raised in the Nether­lands.” And the last video shows the death of a teenager in Alexan­dria, Egypt, dur­ing un­rest fol­low­ing the 2013 coup against then-Pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Morsi.

As far as the White House is con­cerned, the truth of Mr. Trump’s tweets ap­pears to be be­side the point. Whether or not the videos are gen­uine, press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders de­clared, “The threat is real, and that’s what the pres­i­dent is talk­ing about, the need for na­tional se­cu­rity.”

Ms. San­ders is cor­rect that Mr. Trump’s tweets have drawn at­ten­tion to a press­ing na­tional prob­lem. Yet the threat in ques­tion is posed not by an imag­ined Mus­lim men­ace but by far-right and anti-Mus­lim ide­ol­ogy. FBI data shows that hate crimes against Mus­lims have risen sharply for the past two years in a row, reach­ing their high­est level since the 9/11 af­ter­math. And Mr. Trump’s pro­mo­tion of vi­cious pro­pa­ganda risks en­cour­ag­ing fur­ther vi­o­lence and em­bold­en­ing those who seek to drum up hate. That in­cludes fig­ures such as for­mer Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who crowed over Mr. Trump’s re­fusal to con­demn far-right vi­o­lence in Char­lottesville and wrote in re­sponse to the pres­i­dent’s Wed­nes­day tweets, “Thank God for Trump!”

De­cry­ing Bri­tain First, Ms. May’s of­fice stated: “Bri­tish peo­ple over­whelm­ingly re­ject the prej­u­diced rhetoric of the far-right, which is the an­tithe­sis of the val­ues that this coun­try rep­re­sents: de­cency, tol­er­ance, and re­spect.” Those val­ues should guide the be­hav­ior of the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent as well. They re­quire an apol­ogy from Mr. Trump and a de­nun­ci­a­tion of Mr. Duke, Ms. Fransen and other fig­ures of hate em­bold­ened by his ac­tions.

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