Tuesday marked yet another senseless act of killing by a murderer, this time in New York. The suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, was a Florida resident from Uzbekistan, a double-landlocked country in Central Asia that once was part of the Soviet Union.
Rather than talking about what you should do in the event of this kind of situation, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t do in the wake of a tragedy like this.
You shouldn’t hate everyone from Uzbekistan. You shouldn’t hate everyone from Florida. You shouldn’t be afraid to go outside in New York City, or your own city. You shouldn’t talk about how fewer people might have died if someone nearby had a gun — if this attacker had been able to purchase semiautomatic weapons, the death toll would have been much, much higher. Thanks, New York!
Also, you shouldn’t try to scare the crap out of the country you’re in charge of by rekindling fear of “others” and “outsiders” or blaming the attack on a group that you don’t know had anything to do with it.
That seems like a no-brainer, but unfortunately, that’s exactly what Donald Trump did after Saipov plowed a rented van into a crowd and killed and injured nearly two dozen people. During the attack, Saipov brandished guns that for some reason the media keeps calling “fake guns,” but which were actually a pellet gun and a paintball gun. He reportedly shouted an Arabic phrase that roughly translates to “God is great.” Those facts, apparently, were enough for Donald Trump to declare that ISIS had returned to America.
Trump tweeted almost immediately following the attack:
We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2017
This kind of jingoistic, nationalist rhetoric is the kind of garbage we’ve had to endure on Fox News for the past two decades. Now it flows like wine directly from the White House.
Never mind the fact that Saipov came to the United States in 2010.
Never mind that the country he comes from isn’t even on Trump’s racist-vaunted travel ban list.
No, for Donald Trump, one Muslim killer means we must demonize an entire religion — but when a Nazi murderer runs over someone in a crowd, there are still “very fine people” on that man’s side. A country of origin that ends in -stan means that the murderer must have been ISIS, even if all he had were non-lethal guns used for games — but an arsenal of dozens of semiautomatic and fully automatic weapons found in the home of a white man who shoots 600 people in Las Vegas are clearly the hallmark of a “very, very sick individual” who had a “lot of problems, I guess.”
We can’t let our xenophobic, white nationalist president dictate the terms of our fear.
Featured image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images