Hours before he delivered his first nationally televised speech before a joint session of Congress, Donald Trump let it be known that he would take an opportunity to forcefully denounce the recent wave of hate crimes that have erupted across the country.
Instead, viewers got an abridged version of the same cookie-cutter statement that the White House has used repeatedly for weeks in an attempt to distance themselves from the same far-right extremists who got him elected in the first place.
The Trump administration caught flak for their failure to condemn—or even acknowledge—a recent shooting in Olathe, Kansas in which a white man shot two Indian-American immigrants and a third good Samaritan after allegedly shouting “get out of my country.” The White House remained similarly silent following dozens of threats made against Jewish community centers and attacks on Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia, and after a mass shooting by an anti-immigrant extremist at a mosque in Quebec.
On Tuesday evening, Trump appended a brief paragraph to the very beginning of his remarks, offering up the same broad platitudes his administration has issued since Inauguration Day.
“Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms,” he said. That was the entirety of his comments about either incident.
Compare that to his remarks about equally-violent attacks committed by immigrants. For seven paragraphs in the heart of his speech, Trump attempted to justify his proposal for a border wall with xenophobic fear-mongering.
His comments also come just hours after Trump reportedly tried to blame the latest wave of anti-Semitic attacks on liberals, suggesting to a group of state attorneys general that the bomb threats were part of a false flag operation to make Trump’s supporters look bad. It’s a theory popularized by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard (and Trump supporter) David Duke.
Since Election Day, there have been hundreds of incidents of hate directed toward Muslims, Jews, the LGBTQ community, and other populations by right-wing extremists emboldened by the rise of Donald Trump’s brand of white nationalism. But the White House remains more willing to condemn imaginary attacks committed by immigrants than condemn very real attacks committed against them.