On Sunday evening, a man allegedly planted two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at the Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales, Florida. The police are looking for a person of interest in connection with the incident, but he remains on the loose Monday morning.
The device — described in local reports as “some type of flare inside of a PVC pipe that was wrapped in electrical tape” — caused an explosion near a loading dock. While nobody was injured, you might think that the detonation of IEDs at a shopping mall would be a significant story, especially among right-wing voices who are usually quick to politicize attempted acts of violence in public places.
You’d be wrong. On Monday morning, Breitbart’s homepage featured a story about “knife-wielding jihadist inmates” who attacked a prison guard in France, but not a single word about the IEDs in Florida. A brief write-up was featured toward the bottom of Fox News’ homepage. President Trump — reliably quick to politicize act of violence committed by Muslims, even when they happen overseas — hasn’t said anything about the incident as this is published.
What explains their relative silence? A clue can be found in CNN’s description of the person of interest.
“Based on descriptions from witnesses, police say they’re looking for a middle-aged white man with a heavy build who was wearing a gray shirt and hat, as a person of interest,” it reads.
While Trump and his supporters in the media are quick to politicize acts of violence committed by people they want to marginalize politically, they tend to view violence committed by white people as isolated incidents. Consider the difference between Trump’s muted response to the Las Vegas shooting, which was perpetrated by a white man — “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!” he tweeted” — and his response less than a month later when an Uzbek national drove a pickup truck into pedestrians in New York City, killing eight people.
In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2017
Americans are much more likely to be harmed by a right-wing extremist than a Muslim extremist or an undocumented immigrant. Nevertheless, the Trump administration has repeatedly overlooked the threat posed by the former while relentlessly fear-mongering about the latter.