This weekend, individuals placed four sets of bombs in public places, two of them in New Jersey and two in New York City. By Monday morning, law enforcement officials had put out a request for sightings of Ahmad Khan Rahami, a naturalized American citizen from Afghanistan, in connection with the attacks.
A separate terrorist attack took place in a mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where a man reportedly asked shoppers if they were Muslim before lunging at them with a knife. Eight people were injured before he was shot and killed by an ex-cop who’s now an NRA-certified full-time concealed carry instructor. He happened to be at the mall.
All of these attacks took place on Saturday and Sunday. Shortly after the first New York City bomb exploded, injuring dozens, Donald Trump spoke at a campaign rally where he said, “I must tell you that just before I got off the plane, a bomb went off in New York and nobody knows exactly what’s going on.”
This was a true statement, but it greatly alarmed the media on account of local law enforcement officials not yet explicitly saying the explosion that injured dozens was a “bomb.” They did that later.
Here are three things more terrifying than Donald Trump calling a bomb a bomb before local law enforcement officials called it a bomb.
1) Our Media Obsessing More About Trump Calling A Bomb A Bomb Too Early
The first New Jersey bomb went off in a garbage bin while no runners were around. A Marine race was scheduled to pass by during that time but had been rescheduled. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Less than an hour after a second bomb exploded in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, Trump made his statement.
With little other information to go on, and a media that has more or less lost its collective mind as it relates to covering Trump, here’s a small sample of what followed:
Trump, without confirmation of anything, tells CO crowd that a bomb went off in New York.
Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) September 18, 2016
Imagine what would happen if a president said something was a bomb that turned out to be not a bomb.
Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) September 18, 2016
Then Trump announced to a crowd in Colorado that "a bomb went off in New York"
Now imagine roughly 3,000 groupthinking journalists all tweeting that in unison. This turned into headline after headline about how the major problem about a bomb going off in Chelse was that someone called it one before some agreed-upon approved time:
Esquire published a piece headlined “Last Night, Trump Casually Told Everyone That a Bomb Went Off in New York“:
Last night, in a hangar in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Trump took 13 minutes to go on stage to address his supporters. He then decided to construct his own reality, as he so often does, by telling his supporters that a bomb went off in New York—before it was even confirmed that the explosion in Chelsea was a bomb.
CNN made an entire story out of “Trump says ‘bomb went off in New York'”:
Trump made the statement before local officials had publicly confirmed details of the incident or what caused the explosion. Typically, national political figures use caution when describing unfolding situations and law enforcement actions.
Let’s first note that Trump specifically said “a bomb went off in New York and nobody knows exactly what’s going on.” And let’s go ahead and also note that Hillary Clinton used the word “bombings” shortly thereafter:
After flying to NY, Clinton tells reporters she has been briefed on the "bombings in New York and New Jersey and the attack in Minnesota."
Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) September 18, 2016
The media asked her, moments after she said that word, whether she thought Trump was wrong to say it was a bomb. Because that’s a good question.
Now I don’t know if Trump was speaking rashly, as is his wont. Maybe he learned about the bombing in the briefing he received before he got off his plane. Maybe he has better sources in the NYPD than most media outlets do.
And if he was speaking rashly, as he did with the still unexplained crash of an EgyptAir flight in May, it’s worth the media mentioning it.
But as I wrote last night:
Y’all realize that freaking out over Trump calling it a bomb is more alarming to many Americans than calling a bomb a bomb too early, right?
Mollie (@MZHemingway) September 19, 2016
These headlines about Trump calling it a bomb are blatant press attempts to delegitimize him but they really come off like ads for him.
Mollie (@MZHemingway) September 19, 2016
Trump’s appeal to his supporters is based partly in his willingness to say obvious things, such as that a bomb went off in Chelsea and we don’t know exactly what’s going on. We have a political and media class that downplays the motivation for domestic terror attacks unless they are unrelated to Islamism. We have a political and media class unwilling to host substantive or meaningful debates about how to mitigate or prevent these attacks beyond fever dreams regarding removing the natural right of self defense.
A media that keeps telling people to calm down, a media that obsesses over whether someone called a bomb a bomb too early, a media that would focus on the timing of such a claim rather than, oh I don’t know, an ISIS attack at a mall in Minnesota, is one that produces far more anxiety than a presidential candidate saying something too early.
Also, a media establishment that immediately carried so much water for an administration that immediately blamed a Coptic YouTube filmmaker for Islamist attacks in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere is in no position to say a word about someone calling a bomb a bomb before some unknown agreed-upon time. Grow up.
2) President Obama’s Lack Of Interest In Domestic Terror
Presumably President Obama will get around to discussing the coordinated series of attacks that hit the United States this weekend, even if those attacks didn’t result in the carnage they could have. (Update: He got around to a few brief, detached remarks early Monday afternoon.)
Perhaps he’ll get around to it on Monday, more than 48 hours after the first attack on the Marine Corps race. It will be after I had my first nightmare that Islamist terrorists bombed the street near my house, putting the lives of those I love at risk. It makes me feel weird that I’m seemingly more concerned about a terror campaign than people actually elected to deal with national defense.
3) The Obama Administration’s Belief That The Battle Against ISIS Is A War Of Words
During a Monday morning television appearance on CNN, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the United States is engaged in a “narrative fight” with ISIS. This matches terminology we’ve heard from President Obama.
It’s true that battles with enemies willing to blow people up in the streets of Boston, Paris, Nice, and New York aren’t just waged with bullets and bombs, but the Obama administration’s unwillingness to take a murderous ideology seriously is deeply alarming.
4) Team Obama’s Longtime Downplaying of Islamist Terrorism
A year and a half ago, Byron York astutely noted that the Obama administration’s avoidance of a unity rally following horrific attacks on Charlie Hebdo was not surprising:
The uproar over whether President Obama or another top administration official should have attended the massive unity rally in Paris has obscured an important point about the White House’s reaction to the latest terror attacks in Europe. The administration no-shows were not a failure of optics, or a diplomatic misstep, but were instead the logical result of the president’s years-long effort to downgrade the threat of terrorism and move on to other things.
Whatever Obama’s actual strategy to counter Islamist terror is, the messaging from his administration sounds a lot like, “Calm down about ISIS.” And telling people to calm down about something is almost never a good way to get them to do so. Next time someone is upset about a legitimate problem, try telling them to calm down and report back what happens.
The last eight years have seen a plethora of Islamist attacks in this and many other countries. This administration has pooh-poohed concerns about the growing problem, no matter how gruesome or gory it may be. Every attack is done by a lone wolf who we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads about. Nevermind that they rarely are lone wolves or that the “calm down” demand is never applied to actual lone wolf nuts who go on shooting sprees.
It’s a not particularly elegant form of gaslighting, and it is one of the main reasons people are questioning political elites’ ability to comprehend, much less manage or confront, the actual threat of Islamist terrorism.
Here are a few other things more terrifying than Donald Trump calling a bomb a bomb earlier than newsrooms would prefer.
5) A Coordinated Series Of Terror Attacks
Like the ones that happened this weekend in New York and New Jersey, involving a group of, uh, “lone wolves” targeting public spaces including race routes, neighborhoods, and rail lines.
6) Getting Stabbed By Terrorists In A Mall
Like the one that took place this weekend in St. Cloud, where the attacker reportedly asked if people were Muslim before stabbing them.
7) Getting Shot By Terrorists At A Nightclub
Like what happened to dozens of Floridians out for a night of fun at a gay club before dying at the hands of a heavily armed ISIS fighter in … Orlando.
8) Getting Gunned Down by an Islamist Colleague
Like what happened to 36 injured and murdered people in a terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California.
9) Being Maimed and Murdered by Terrorists While Running a Marathon
Like what happened to hundreds of runners and observers at the Boston Marathon a couple of years ago when Islamist terrorists used pressure cookers to kill and maim as many people as possible. Six people died and 280 were injured, some extremely seriously.
10) Getting Run Down On Holiday By A Terrorist Driving A Truck
Like what happened to more than 500 people celebrating Bastille Day on the promenade in Nice. Some 86 people were murdered and another 434 were injured.
11) Being Killed For What You Publish
Like what happened to the cartoonists and other employees at Charlie Hebdo, when two Islamist terrorists forced their way into the heavily fortified offices of the satirical publication and used assault rifles to murder 11 and injure another 11.
12) Being Killed On A Terrorist-Hijacked Plane
Like what happened to passengers of four passenger aircraft that were used by Islamist terrorists to crash into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and what was supposed to be the U.S. Capitol.
13) Being Killed By Terrorists Using A Hijacked Plane
Like what happened to more than 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001.
14) Being Targeted By Terrorists In Foiled Plots
15) Being Told By Your President And His Secretary Of State That A YouTube Video Caused Widespread Violence
Like what happened just four years ago when this administration repeatedly threw the First Amendment and an American practitioner of it under the bus to excuse violence and mislead Americans about an orchestrated and well-planned terror attack that killed four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador.
We could go on and on.
Donald Trump speaking more quickly than the media would like is certainly worth noting. It speaks to how he would handle himself as president. But a media class unable to see real threats while histrionically responding to every word Trump utters is doing little but helping his campaign succeed.