President Trump spent his first morning back from his overseas trip catching up on all the Tweeting he restrained from doing while he was abroad. He congratulated himself for all of his “big successes” in Europe, bragged about the Republican victory in Montana’s special election, and railed against the “fake news” media for the latest round of damaging leaks.
Entirely absent from his rant, however, was any mention of the vicious terrorist attack in Portland, Oregon, by a white supremacist who killed two men and grievously injured a third man who were defending a pair of Muslim women against his harassment.
Respected journalist Dan Rather took to Facebook to pen this powerful letter to the President, demanding that he recognize the sacrifice those two brave men made in standing up to the hate that the President’s rhetoric and policies has inflamed across the nation.
Dear President Trump,
Their names were Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Ricky John Best. One was a recent college graduate. The other was an army veteran and father of four. I wish we would hear you say these names, or even just tweet them. They were brave Americans who died at the hands of someone who, when all the facts are collected, we may have every right to call a terrorist. A third brave man, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, was wounded in the knife attack.
This story may not neatly fit into a narrative you pushed on the campaign trail and that has followed you into the White House. They were not killed by an undocumented immigrant or a “radical Islamic terrorist.” They were killed in an act of civic love, facing down a man allegedly spewing hate speech directed at two teenage girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab. That man seems to have a public record of “extremist ideology” – a term issued by the Portland Police Bureau.
This “extremism” may be of a different type than gets most of your attention, or even the attention in the press. But that doesn’t make it any less serious, or deadly. And this kind of “extremism” is on the rise, especially in the wake of your political ascendency. Most people who study these sorts of things do not think that is a coincidence. I do not blame you directly for this incident. Nor do I think other people should. But what a President says, who he has around him, and the tone he sets can set the tone for the nation at large.
Perhaps Portland, Oregon is off your radar. It is, after all, a rather liberal place. It’s even a “sanctuary city.” But it is still an American city. And you are its President. Two Americans have died leaving family and friends behind. They are mourned by millions more who are also deeply worried about what might come next.
I hope you can find it worthy of your time to take notice.
It, unfortunately, is little surprise that Trump has failed to acknowledge the shocking killings – unless it serves his narrative, it doesn’t exist for Trump, who fails on a daily basis to fulfill his duty to the American nation and behaves not so much as a leader but as a petty tyrant.
This high-profile right-wing terror attack was a crucial test for Trump, a chance for him to demonstrate that he represents all Americans and shares our grief in these troubled times. He failed it miserably.