Three Times Donald Trump Treated Vehicular Manslaughter as Terrorism

Donald Trump gave the weakest statement on Charlottesville today, even going so far as calling on Americans to “cherish our history,” in response to a Nazi mob responding to the removal of Confederate symbols.

[W]e’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia.  We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides.  On many sides.  It’s been going on for a long time in our country.  Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama.  This has been going on for a long, long time.

It has no place in America.  What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.  No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society, and no child should ever be afraid to go outside and play, or be with their parents, and have a good time.

[snip]

I want to salute the great work of the state and local police in Virginia — incredible people — law enforcement, incredible people — and also the National Guard.  They’ve really been working smart and working hard.  They’ve been doing a terrific job.  The federal authorities are also providing tremendous support to the governor.  He thanked me for that.  And we are here to provide whatever other assistance is needed.  We are ready, willing, and able.

Above all else, we must remember this truth:  No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first.  We love our country.  We love our God.  We love our flag.  We’re proud of our country.  We’re proud of who we are.  So we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it.  And we want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country, where things like this can happen.

My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another.  We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history and our future together.  So important.  We have to respect each other.  Ideally, we have to love each other. [my emphasis]

In spite of the attack on counter-protestors — a tactic borrowed from ISIS terrorists in Europe — Trump didn’t label this terrorism or even call out the white supremacist violence.

Which is curious, because on at least three occasions he treated vehicular manslaughter as terrorism. He did it with Nice.

He accused London Mayor Sadiq Khan of blowing off the London Bridge terrorist attack.

And he demanded the “civilized world” change its thinking in response, in part, to the Berlin truck attack.

I guess Trump has lost his interest in civilization now?

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

28 replies
  1. lefty665 says:

    One pedestrian was killed, and 19 more injured. The driver, from Ohio, has been charged with 2nd degree murder and several more offenses.  Two state cops died when they crashed their helicopter elsewhere in C’ville.

    That “mall” is unusual.  It is a closed section of a downtown city street maybe 15 blocks long. There are several places where cross streets are still open to traffic. Pedestrians and vehicles mix regularly and routinely. There are no traffic lights or pedestrian walk lights, but stop signs for cross traffic before crossing the mall.  Usually there is not much cross traffic, this is C’ville after all.  The park is a block north of the mall.

    I am trying to sort out for myself how and when causing harm, in this case murder, transitions into terrorism. Does it require intent to cause terror? Does fear caused by the infliction of injury or death constitute terrorism?  Can we fairly apply the terrorism label without knowing the driver’s intent, and more about the circumstances? Does it become terrorism when the person causing harm has been engaged in a protest?  I am reluctant to use exercise of first amendment rights to assemble, petition and speak as the basis for a charge of terrorism, even when, as here, I detest the speech.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/fights-in-advance-of-saturday-protest-in-charlottesville/2017/08/12/155fb636-7f13-11e7-83c7-5bd5460f0d7e_story.html?tid=pm_pop

    • greengiant says:

      Good to get as much information as possible.  So far it is terrorism,  taking a deadly weapon to your target and then using it as the several videos show.  The reunite the “reich” is just one of the pots that Trump Putin Bannon oligarchs stir.  Parts are staged theater with the hiring of actors to forment violence.  Useful fools and bigots are already known to be coming along for the ride.  If the police do anything it is to protect the reichists.  The police actually desire violence. Obviously this is all theater to demonize all sides but the Trump side and a prelude to takeovers using emergency powers.  Immediate responses are that he was a Bernie supporter and anti-fa but that is just Nuremberg cheerleading.  Same thing happened in Portland Oregon where a homeless felon attended a GOP officials’ sponsored group “free speech”  make Portland safe for racists rally.   After he slashed three throats,  the narrative was all Bernie Bro and ignoring the felon’s wish to be in Trump’s SS.

      Understand this in some parts of the US if you are not pro Trump you are socially and economically ostracized.

  2. Pajarito says:

    Trump has yet to denounce the cowardly bombing of a Minnesota Mosque, as well.  Guess some of his subjects are less precious than others.

  3. Bay State Librul says:

    Lefty,

    This is not a “Meaning of Life” discussion about terrorism.

    It was an act of terrorism.

    • lefty665 says:

      Read the article linked below. There was considerable violence on the part of counter-protestors, some apparently initiated by them. Does that make them terrorists too?  Or is it just people with opinions you (and I) do not like?

      The protestors were exercising their constitutional rights with permits issued by the city.  Many of them were armed. Despite assaults by counter protesters no one was shot. That makes a pretty convincing argument that the intent of the demonstration was protected free speech not terror. Making the leap from protected speech to terrorist is a slippery slope.  Seems to me that the charge of murder,  not terrorism, for the jerk kid who apparently used his car as a weapon is a good call by the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

      During the Vietnam era I was sure I was exercising my rights and obligations as a citizen by assembling and petitioning the Government to help it see the error of its ways. That was not a popular position with the USG or “Moral Majority”. While “terrorist” was not the epithet of the day back then, there were plenty of ugly characterizations coming out of the establishment. “Dirty Commie Hippie” being among the mildest.  My memory of that time informs my unwillingness today to leap to ugly name calling, even of people I detest. YMMV.

  4. lefty665 says:

    Here is the reporting from the local C’ville newspaper.

    http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/ohio-man-charged-with-second-degree-murder-after-car-plows/article_ef4ba358-7f6a-11e7-84cf-8f840f442510.html

    Correction to my original comment, the downtown mall is closer to 8 blocks long than 15.  Also, the side streets crossing the mall are narrow.  That makes the combination of a crowd and a vehicle bent on hurting people especially dangerous. There is not much room to escape.

     

  5. bmaz says:

    Yeah. That guy barreled down a corridor, and then backed up at the high speed of James Garner in the Rockford Files (are you here Jim White?), it was totally freaking mad.

  6. earlofhfuntingdon says:

    I’m surprised the charge is only murder #2.  The driver certainly intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm; it’s not like he was busy looking for a place to parallel park.  I hope the police obtained a full tox screen on this guy.

    As has been said elsewhere, Trump’s aversion to calling out white racists’ terrorism on US soil is because he agrees with their politics, if not their actions, and is afraid of losing their support.  In spirit, he’s one of them.  That is, until some racist criticizes the Donald.  Then he’ll be agin ’em.  It’s always all about Donald.

    • bmaz says:

      Earl, I can guarantee you those were only what are called “holding charges”  that there can not be a question about for detention purposes. It gives the state time to firm up the intent elements for capital crimes and other intent factors. If what we “think” we know maintains, this will be a capital homicide case, and the other direct victims will be considered attempted homicides and there will be aggravated assault counts backing up those.

      Don’t be fooled about the nature of smartly played holding charges.

  7. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Anthony Scaramucci: Trump needed to be ‘much harsher’ to white supremacy.

    [He also says he stills supports the president]

    http://www.bostonherald.com/news/us_politics/2017/08/anthony_scaramucci_trump_needed_to_be_much_harsher_to_white_supremacy

    NSA McMaster on Charlottesville: ‘Of Course It Was Terrorism’

    [But he tried to spin it in trump’s favor]

    http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/nsa-mcmaster-charlottesville-course-it-was-terrorism-n792196

    [Neither Scaramucci or McMaster support Bannon per above links. The following link may explain why they imply so]

    https://www.axios.com/steve-bannons-job-in-jeopardy-trump-suspects-him-of-leaking-2472208484.html

  8. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Alleged driver of car that plowed into Charlottesville crowd was a Nazi sympathizer, former teacher says

    [Even Jeffbo weighs in, and ignores trumps wishy-washy lack of concern]

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/one-dead-as-car-strikes-crowds-amid-protests-of-white-nationalist-gathering-in-charlottesville-two-police-die-in-helicopter-crash/2017/08/13/3590b3ce-8021-11e7-902a-2a9f2d808496_story.html

    Brian Moran, Virginia secretary of public safety, said this of Fields: “He was a terrorist to do what he did.”

    The FBI field office in Richmond and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Virginia said late Saturday that they have opened a civil rights investigation.

    “The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”

    [Of course trump wants his ‘base’ for 2020 run]

    • bmaz says:

      Those quotes are lovely. Exactly what are you suggesting?? You think YOU can determine how a state should charge the matter?

      Do YOU think your opinion ought supersede a by the book intelligent criminal processing by the appropriate state of jurisdiction doing their jobs as they should?

      You think your feelz are more important than actual due process common procedure that seems to be taking place?

      If so, why?

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mr. Trump hasn’t a clue what to do as president, he just wants to be president.  That’s why all he can do is run for it, and keep running.  The problem Mr. Trump has is the one every other pathological personality has: wherever he goes, he’s always there.

  10. Bay State Librul says:

    Finally, a person with balls……

    Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier is resigning from President Donald Trump’s manufacturing council.

    “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” Frazier said in a statement.

    “As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

  11. Rugger9 says:

    Given how in deep Caesar Disgustus with the supremacists (and Ivanka didn’t help here, either), his options are very limited. David Dukkke pointed it out in his tweet responding to Trump (‘You are where you are because you owe us’, more or less) which is nothing new. See also John Oliver’s YouTube report of the rally (DD is at 2:00). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07tMQs-5SD8
    Add in the infamous Central Park Five ad demanding their execution (DNA proved them innocent) and it is clear this failure to call out domestic terrorism is a feature, not a bug. I’m wondering who JeffBo will really target on his crackdown.

    There are people identified in the photos including ones from Berkeley who lost his job at Top Dog (a local icon) and the now-famous kid from UNR. What it means that while these vermin are small in number, they are everywhere.

    There is a call for Pence to take over, but I would speculate that the GOP wants to hold things together with baling wire and chewing gum until January 21, 2019 when Pence could be in power for two full terms plus the rest of Trump’s term (ten years’ worth of mismanagement). C.D. may make it impossible, but I would think this may explain how stuff that would have gotten HRC barbecued long ago.

  12. Evangelista says:

    Marcie,

    The problem in such cases as of those removing Confederate symbols, that you write in regard to, and in others where the destructions of historic elements are less “organized”, such as the ADL/JDL arson of the Historical Review offices, now some decades ago (to destroy Third Reich Era records the arsonists found offensive), along with all other destructions of historical monuments and records, to ‘revise’ histories, or “make the world safe for reinterpretations”, is that the destructions are destructions of historical records.

    Histories should never be destroyed. They should be preserved, and explained.

    Destructions of historical records, especially for political and preference reasons, are always self-defeating. They are ultimately destructive for the destroyers, and those condoning; They cause them to show, and provide history of their being, more prejudiced and bigoted than the creators of the historical records, if those were prejudiced and bigoted, which creators of historical records are not in many cases.

    Destructions of historical records says, very loudly and very clearly, “We are liars who are afraid for our lies being revealed.” This because those who do not have lies to cover are able to use historical records. They are able to use them to initiate explanations. Explanations reveal perspectives which may explain errors. They may also reveal viewpoints and provide additional explanations, which may lead to comprehensions and understandings, in depths instead of in shallow glosses and superficial slogans.

    Real histories are explanations of depths. Glosses and slogans add dimensions through initiating reactions which contribute to creating succeeding historical events. The current removal of components of Confederate history is a shallow political activity, which is going to contribute to events which will add further depths to effected histories.

      • lefty665 says:

        Maybe they’re in a warehouse in Brooklyn waiting for spaces in the south to become vacant. :)

        Adding annotation to provide context to monuments seems a better to do it. In C’ville it might be along the lines of Lee was fighting to preserve slavery, a practice that local god Jefferson thrived on.

        Jefferson’s advocacy of states rights was largely to protect slavery and sowed the seeds of the civil war.  Under current logic the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument in D.C. should come down too. Congress has pretty much disassembled itself already.

    • Duncan says:

      “Destructions of historical records, especially for political and preference reasons, are always self-defeating.”  This and “components of Confederate history” are lies.  The statues and other memorials you are referring to are not components of Confederate history.  Confederate history ended with Lee’s surrender at Appomatox.  These objects are not historical records, not relics of the war, which are plentiful enough; they were erected after the Confederacy ceased to exist. They are propaganda, intended to <i>falsify</i> history by turning racist insurgents into heroes.  The resistance to their removal, whether by neo-Nazi mobs or by apologists like yourself, is not based on any devotion to history, but to its continued falsification.

  13. Evangelista says:

    Apparently nobody studies REAL United States history anymore.

    All that everything is based on that everyone here is basing their beliefs on is made-up stuff. Revival Narrative preached as Truth with insistence that it be Truth and The Only Truth and The Ordained Word.

    Even though it is as simplistic as “Little Georgie Washington chopped down a cherry tree— .”

    And no more that about equally true (George Washington did, after all, cut down some trees…).

    It is no wonder there are so many today who seem to believe they can make any narrative true just by preaching and preaching and preaching the narrative, and believing and believing and believing it has to be true…

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