- President Donald Trump said he does not see white nationalism as a rising threat after a mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand.
- “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess,” Trump told reporters when asked if he’s seen a rise.
- The man who claimed responsibility for the shooting wrote a manifesto espousing white nationalist beliefs.
President Donald Trump on Friday told reporters he does not believe we’re witnessing a rising threat from white nationalism around the world when answering questions about a mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand.
Trump was asked, “Do you see today white nationalism a rising threat around the world?”
“I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess,” the president replied. “If you look what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet … But it’s certainly a terrible thing.”
The man who claimed responsibility for a mass shooting at two mosques that left 49 people dead in Christchurch, New Zealand, expressed fervent white-nationalist beliefs in a manifesto, which also praised Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” The suspected shooter reportedly wanted to “avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.”
The White House has rejected the notion Trump has anything to do with the shooting, describing the implication as “outrageous.”
Statistics from the FBI, as well as recent research from various organizations, suggest that white nationalism is on the rise both in the US and abroad, contrary to Trump’s comments on Friday.
- FBI data showed hate crimes rose 17% in 2017, with a 37% spike in attacks on Jews. In October 2018, a white supremacist killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue.
- The FBI also found racially motivated incidents rose by 18%, with almost 300 more hate crimes against African-Americans in 2017 than the year prior.
- A November 2018 analysis from The Washington Post on global terrorism data found far-right violence has been on the rise since President Donald Trump entered the White House.
- Every extremist killing in the US in 2018 had a link to a right-wing extremism, according to a January 2019 report from the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.
- Meanwhile, an October 2018 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found a majority of Americans agree that Trump has “encouraged white supremacist groups” with his decisions and behavior.
Trump, who famously pushed for barring all Muslims from the US during his 2016 presidential campaign and implemented a watered-down version of that proposal as president, declared that he’s a “nationalist” in October.
“You know, they have a word, it sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist,” Trump said at the time. “You know what I am? I’m a nationalist. OK? I’m a nationalist.”
The president also continues to face criticism for blaming “many sides” for deadly neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.