The White House won’t comment on a white supremacist accused of terrorism

It’s been eight days since Timothy Caughman was murdered for being black. Trump is still silent.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File
CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File

A white man from Baltimore, Maryland who traveled all the way to New York to murder a black man was indicted on charges of terrorism on Monday. More than a week after the murder took place, the White House has yet to comment.

James Harris Jackson, a 28-year-old white man, stabbed Timothy Caughman, a 66-year-old black man, on March 20. Jackson told the cops that he specifically went to New York to kill black people, and that he wanted to do it for the “rush.” On Monday, he was charged with murder as an act of terror in the first and second degree.

“James Jackson prowled the streets of New York for three days in search of a black person to assassinate in order to launch a campaign of terrorism against our Manhattan community and the values we celebrate,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a statement. “James Jackson wanted to kill black men, planned to kill black men, and then did kill a black man.”

Jackson used an 18-inch-sword to kill Caughman and later told the New York Daily News that he did it to stop white women from entering relationships with black men. He traveled all the way to New York because he wanted as much media attention as possible, and court documents say that he viewed the murder as a practice run to kill even more black men.

But the White House has been silent. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about the murder, and he said he didn’t “know all the details.” American Urban Radio Networks’ White House Correspondent April Ryan also asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier in the day whether the murder was a hate crime, but he remained silent, even though an office within his department is the one pursuing terrorism charges.

It is interesting that Jackson was indicted on terrorism, given that many other white supremacist murders have avoided the charge in recent years, even when they admit their crimes were politically motivated. After the murder of Caughman, Jackson explained his views on race to the press and specifically mentioned the website Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website which Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who murdered nine people at a Charleston church in 2015, also frequently visited. Roof was never charged with terrorism, and the majority of Americans didn’t think he should be.


Similarly, Robert Rankin Doggart, a former congressional candidate who admitted to “plotting the annihilation” of a Muslim community in New York, wasn’t charged with terrorism. Stephen Hicks, the man who murdered his three Muslim neighbors in Chapel Hill, was never charged with terrorism. There are countless other examples.

Terrorism is a vague term, and its definition varies depending on who you ask, even among government agencies. The lack of clarity is why a white congressman can go on television and say that “white terrorists are different” and, in a sense, be right.

Still, Trump’s silence is concerning — and follows a long pattern of ignoring other acts of hate targeting minorities.

When former KKK grand wizard David Duke announced his support for Trump during the 2016 election, it took days for the then-candidate to condemn the endorsement. He remained silent on a weeks-long spike in anti-Semitic incidents, even when asked about it three times in one week. He didn’t say anything about the murder of two Indian men in recent weeks, one of whom was allegedly shot by someone who first yelled “get out of my country.”


And just three days after a white man who was a fan of Donald Trump shot and murdered people at a mosque in Quebec, the Trump administration called for the U.S. counterterrorism program to stop focusing on white supremacists.

Instead, the Trump administration has focused excessively on crimes by undocumented immigrants — to the point of spreading lies. As ThinkProgress has previously reported, undocumented immigrants are no more likely to commit crimes than American citizens, despite what Trump’s Department of Homeland Security would have you believe.

Last month, Trump also claimed that terrorist attacks around the world go unreported and provided the media with a list of attacks almost exclusively by Muslim extremists — but according to a ThinkProgress tally, those attacks generated over 17,400 stories. Around the same time, White House Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway made up a terrorist attack in Bowling Green, Kentucky to justify Trump’s Muslim ban.