One day after denouncing ‘hate-motivated violence,’ Spicer refuses to denounce Islamophobia

The administration is now cherry-picking hate crime victims.

People carry posters during a rally against President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. CREDIT: AP Photo/Andres Kudacki
People carry posters during a rally against President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. CREDIT: AP Photo/Andres Kudacki

During a press briefing on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer deflected a question about the president denouncing Islamophobia. Asked whether or not the administration has been “forceful” in speaking out against Islamophobia, Spicer responded with a pivot to “radical Islamic terrorism.”

“If you come here or want to express views that seek to do our country or people harm, he’s going to fight it aggressively,” he said of President Donald Trump. “So there’s a big difference between preventing attacks and making sure that we keep this country safe, so that there is no loss of life.”

The remarks came just one day after Spicer criticized “hatred and hate-motivated violence,” after more than 10 Jewish community centers (JCC) received bomb threats and approximately 200 tombstones at a Jewish cemetery were destroyed in St. Louis. But even then, the administration has dragged its feet in commenting on the spike in violence and threats against Jewish people. Trump also refused to condemn anti-Semitism three times last week.

According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Corey Saylor, the director of the Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia, Trump’s relative silence on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia go hand in hand.

“There’s been a wave of anti-Semitism going on since his election, and it took him until now to respond, which is profoundly troubling,” he said. “The President of the United States isn’t willing to speak out against such bigotry.”

There have been four rounds of bomb threats against JCCs this year, and at least 70 hate crimes committed against Jews since Election Day. There has been a similar increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric and attacks — which Trump has refused to condemn. The Southern Poverty Law Center recently discovered that the number of anti-Muslim hate groups nearly tripled between 2015 and 2016. Between November 9 and February 9, ThinkProgress recorded 31 hate crimes against Muslims, and not just “vague but unmistakably hateful speech.” Trump is ignoring these incidents— in the same way that he ignored a mosque attack, which led to six deaths, in Quebec City earlier this month.

The FBI is currently investigating the latest round of JCC bomb threats, and Saylor said that CAIR will push for additional probes as necessary.

“This is just an administration that’s not overly friendly to minorities in general,” Saylor added. “We’ll continue to ask them to investigate all forms of hate crimes, equally.”

This piece previously said eight people died in the Quebec City shooting. The correct number is six people.