Politicians react to New York City attack with sweeping generalizations against Muslims

Politicians and pundits were quick to blame Muslims.

A bicycle lies on a bike path at the crime scene where investigators work after a motorist earlier Tuesday drove onto the path, striking and killing several people. (CREDIT: AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
A bicycle lies on a bike path at the crime scene where investigators work after a motorist earlier Tuesday drove onto the path, striking and killing several people. (CREDIT: AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

In the hours following Tuesday’s deadly truck attack in New York City, which left eight people dead and nearly a dozen injured, many politicians and pundits were quick to blame Muslims and Islam for the violence.

The suspect, 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant Sayfullo Saipov, allegedly drove a rented pickup truck down a busy bike path in lower Manhattan Tuesday afternoon. Saipov exited the truck brandishing fake firearms and left a note in which he claimed to be affiliated with ISIS. According to New York City law enforcement, he shouted “Allahu Akbar,” a common phrase used by Muslims and Arabic speakers of all Abrahamic faiths, meaning “God is great.”

Authorities and government officials, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), have called the incident an “act of terror,” but there have been no official connections made to ISIS or other extremist groups. The FBI is actively looking into the attack as a terrorism investigation. 

The motivation behind the attack is still not clear and sweeping generalizations are dangerous, counterterrorism experts say, because they serve as a powerful recruiting tool for extremist groups. Still, that hasn’t stopped conservative politicians and commentators alike from painting the world’s nearly 2 billion Muslims with the same violent brush.

In an interview with Fox News following the attack, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) used the attack to generalize Islam as the source of the problem, referring to the situation as a “religious war.” Graham added, “We are fighting people who are compelled by their religious views to kill us all.”

Fox News host Laura Ingraham said Tuesday evening that the attack “makes me think of the mass Islamic resettlement in Europe” and touted President Donald Trump’s travel ban against majority-Muslim countries as a way to keep the country safe.

“Though Uzbekistan was not on the list, it should be,” Ingraham said. “9/11 should have made it obvious to everyone that Islam has a hideous radicalization problem.”

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) peddled similar generalizations of the Muslim community, arguing on Wednesday morning for “extensive surveillance of the Muslim community because that’s where the threat is coming from.”

NBC News reported on Wednesday that Saipov’s wife cooperated with law enforcement and said she was unaware of the attack. Despite this, former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) told Fox News that Saipov’s “entire family should be deported.”

Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) drew a nonsensical parallel between the rate of immigration from Middle Eastern countries and the New York attacker, who immigrated from Uzbekistan, a country in Central Asia.

https://twitter.com/RepDaveBrat/status/925744324914053121