In President Donald Trump’s America, only certain crimes fit the bill to be denounced by the White House. The rest either do not matter to them or just do not fall in line with the new administration’s blatantly racist and xenophobic agenda.
Case in point: When Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks April Ryan, the African-American journalist whom Trump once asked if members of the Congressional Black Congress were “friends of hers,” asked Press Secretary Sean Spicer if the White House had anything to say about the hate crime murder of Timothy Caughman, he gave her a very vague response.
Instead of using the opportunity to strongly denounce the brutal crime, Spicer, in his usual bumbling fashion, began talking about how he was not going to reference any specific case that was before the Justice Department at the given time.
“I will say that the president has recognized that we need to bring the country together. He wants to unite this country,” he continued. “He wants to bring this country together. He had a very long conversation with respect to race in itself, which I think is somewhat, if I’m not correct, [sic] in your question.”
James Harris Jackson, a 28-year-old self-identified white supremacist, admitted to fatally stabbing 66-year-old Caughman with a sword on a pavement in Manhattan. The Army vet had traveled to New York City from Baltimore with the sole intention to murder black men.
Although the authorities have now charged Jackson with terrorism, the innocent black man’s murder still did not seem to warrant any condemnation from the White House.
Spicer followed that up by going on a bizarre tangent.
“Two issues, number one, I think hate crimes, anti-Semitic crimes, should be called out in the most reprehensible way. There is no room for that in our country,” he continued. “I think that there’s one other piece to this, April. While we unequivocally, no doubt about it, need to call out hate, anti-Semitism where it exists, where’s another thing we have to do.”
His comments were in reference to the recent arrest of a 19-year-old Jewish Israeli teen suspected of calling in bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers and other Jewish institutions in the United States.
However, when Ryan pushed him to speak specifically about Jackson’s case and the apparent uptick in hate crimes, Spicer went on to say something quite outrageous.
“I do think there has been a rush to judgment in a lot of other cases, in particular, the anti-Semitic discussion where people have jumped to the conclusion of denouncing people on the right,” he opined, still talking about the bomb threats. “In that particular case, we saw that the president was right and this rush to judgment by a lot of folks on the left was wrong and none of them have been held to account on that.”
Couldn’t he just condemn the atrocity and sympathize with the victim? Why did he have to make it all about conservatives being unfairly blamed?
In the same press conference, Ryan also asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to comment on the NYC murder.
“What about the Eric Garner case, and the white supremacist that killed the black man in New York? Is that a hate crime, sir?” she asked.
Sessions not only ignored the question, he wrapped up and left the podium.
It was particularly strange, considering Sessions had earlier discussed these two incidents:
“We all remember the tragic case of Kate Steinle, the 32-year-old woman who was shot and killed two years ago in San Francisco as she walked along a pier with her father. The shooter, Francisco Sanchez, was an illegal immigrant who had already been deported five times and had seven felony convictions.”
“A similar story unfolded just last week when Ever Valles, an illegal immigrant and a Mexican national, was charged with murder and armed robbery of a man in a light rail station. Valles was released from a Denver jail in late December despite the fact that ICE had lodged a detainer for his removal.”
The reason is pretty clear: In both of these cases, the alleged perpetrators were both undocumented immigrants. Whereas in Timothy Caughman’s case, the murderer was not just an American citizen and, he was a white guy who had served in the U.S. Army.
The racism and bigotry being displayed by the Trump administration is a frightening reminder of the times we are currently living in.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Kevin Lamarque