That was quick.
After being widely criticized for his reticence to quickly condemn the neo-Nazis and other white-hate groups that rallied in Charlottesville last weekend, it took President Donald Trump less than three hours after a van rammed through a crowd of people in Barcelona to condemn the attack as an act of Islamic terrorism on his Twitter feed.
On Thursday, at about 5 p.m. local time, a Fiat box van plowed through Barcelona’s La Rambla pedestrian mall, a popular tourist location, killing at least 13 people and injuring dozens, the BBC reported. One suspect was killed in a shootout with police. Reuters reported that the Islamic State terrorist organization has claimed responsibility.
As he has done in the past, Trump showed no hesitancy to condemn Tuesday's act of terror committed by extremists claiming to be Muslim -- likely in a cynical pander to the anti-Muslim bigots that helped him win last year’s presidential election.
On Saturday in Charlottesville, a Nazi sympathizer was arrested on charges of being the man who drove a car through a crowd of people protesting the “United the Right” white-power rally, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring 19, including five seriously. Virginia officials, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others have called the car-ramming incident an attack of domestic terror; the president has not.
Trump followed through about an hour later with a tweet referencing a long-discredited story involving U.S. General John J. Pershing who, during the U.S. invasion and occupation of the Philippines from 1899 to 1902, was rumored to have ordered dead Muslim rebels to be buried with pigs to discourage other Muslims from attacking. In some versions of this apocryphal story, Pershing orders his men to dip bullets in pig’s blood. Practicing Muslims and Jews are prohibited from eating or handling pork.
The fact-checking website Snopes debunked this as an internet-created rumor that picked up steam after the attack on September 11, 2001. Trump used this fake news repeatedly during his presidential campaign, to the applause of the anti-Muslim bigots in the audience. It’s unclear what event took place 35 years later. When he recited this false historical incident on the campaign trail, he would claim it solved the problem of Islamic terrorism for 25 years.
“It’s just not what happened, but there’s the presidential input for the day,” Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said on Thursday.
Trump has proven to be quick to unleash lies his hardcore supporters believe. What he’s not quick to do is anger the racists and bigots that make up a sizeable portion of his base by disparaging them even when they deserve it.