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Domestic Terror and Trump’s Failure of Leadership

Leadership means Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage.
- Richard N. Ojeda

If leaders are born out of a crisis, then once again the Trump presidency has been stillborn. Even though bombs were still in circulation and the perpetrator was still on the loose, Tweets from the President of the United States revolved around an unsubstantiated complaint that Twitter was limiting the number of his followers and the fact that the news was covering assassination attempts against his political foes instead of “talking politics”. Even worse, he fed right-wing conspiracy theorists by framing the word “bomb” in quotes, contradicting his FBI Director who directly stated that they were “not hoax devices”. Leaders put the common good above their own. Donald Trump is a narcissist who cannot stand a storyline that does not advance his own interests.

It is understandable that Trump was so heavily invested in conspiracy theories as they helped deflect attention away from his responsibility for this act of domestic terrorism. With less than two weeks to go before the midterms, it was a little inconvenient to have someone sending bombs through the mail using a list of targets that appears to have been taken from the teleprompter at one of his rallies. Pretending that all signs pointed to a false flag operation by the Democrats at least delayed having to deal with the issue for a couple of days.

Once the world got a peek at the MAGA Van, it was a little harder to claim that the man charged with “mailing of explosives and threats against former presidents” was acting in the interests of the Democratic party. After seeing the rolling ode to right-wing Twitter trolling, complete with targets placed over Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Michael Moore, even Candace Owens had to delete her Tweet claiming that there was “a 0% chance that these ‘suspicious packages’ were sent out by conservatives.” Pictures of MAGA Bomber Cesar Altier Sayoc at Trump’s poorly attended inauguration and at a campaign rally showed his longtime support for the current President. Rush Limbaugh remained unconvinced. After all, the bumper stickers did not look “faded”.

The next line of defense was to play the game of false equivalence; Trump is “certainly not responsible for sending suspicious packages to someone, no more than Bernie Sanders was responsible for a supporter of his shooting up a Republican baseball field practice last year.” In reality, certain elements of the Right DID blame Sanders. Despite the fact that Sanders never called for violence during his campaign, the “American Spectator” described him as “a man who spent an entire year barnstorming America demanding a “political revolution in this country.” A revolution necessitates assassinations, does it not?” Apparently, they chose to ignore the fact that Sanders was not calling for a coup but a revolution held at the ballot box.

Sanders showed what it takes to be a leader when he took to the floor of the Senate and declared:

Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through non-violent actions and anything else runs counter to our most deeply held American values. I know I speak for the entire country in saying that my hopes and prayers are that Representative Scalice, Congressional staff and the Capital Police Officers who were wounded make a quick and full recovery.

Compare this to Trump, who has a history of encouraging violence at his rallies. He has avoided using the names of the targeted officials and will “probably pass” on calling either of the two former presidents who were targeted. Throughout the ordeal, he had continued to hold his hyperpartisan rallies, employing his usual “fear-mongering and falsehoods” and doing nothing to quell chants of “lock her up” and “CNN Sucks”. Instead of toning down the rhetoric, he has threatened that he “could tone up.” Showing his tone-deafness to the terror experienced by former public officials, their staff, law enforcement officers and ordinary citizens, he did take the opportunity to complain about the “very unfair” press coverage of the Republicans. Can the Right-Wing please explain how the POTUS is not easily offended, and unable to deal with opposing opinions? Isn’t that the definition of a snowflake?

As a candidate, Trump called on President Obama to “step down” for not using the words “Radical Islam” to describe the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. He called “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”. However, he provided no outrage when his Islamic allies, and possible business partners, in Saudi Arabia killed journalist and American resident Jamal Khashoggi in cold blood. Furthermore, in the past decade, “274 of the 387 Americans murdered by extremists” were victims of radicals on the right-wing. Yet Trump will not name this problem. Could this be because these same extremists helped put him in power?

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Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate, elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.” His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.