In the wake of the horrific mosque shooting in New Zealand, freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) has taken issue with the response of President Donald Trump, saying that she finds his reaction to be indicative of a tendency to “look the other way” when it comes to white supremacism. According to a report in The Hill, the progressive firebrand wasn’t happy with Trump’s comments regarding whether he sees an upsurge in white supremacism around the world and whether it poses a growing threat.
“I don’t really, I think it’s a small group of that have very serious problems,” Trump said in response to the question of whether white nationalism is rising globally. “I guess, if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet.”
Ocasio-Cortez highlighted a tweet from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a venerable nonprofit legal advocacy group that specializes in civil rights, noting that white supremacists were responsible for the majority of mass killings in the U.S. in 2017.
“What the President is saying here: ‘if you engage in violent acts of white supremacy, I will look the other way,'” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Understand that this is deliberate. This is why we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines.”
Ocasio-Cortez joins a chorus of voices on both the left and right that have been critical of Trump’s rather tepid responses when incidents involving white supremacists and even neo-Nazis erupt into the national and world consciousness. Particularly egregious to many on the Democrat side was Trump’s reaction to the neo-Nazi and white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 in which a counter-protester was struck and killed by a car driven by a supporter of the marchers.
Trump’s response at the time was to avoid condemning the white supremacists, and even to suggest that there are “good people on both sides” when it came to that protest.
But others in government are not so sanguine about the potential threat of a white supremacist movement gaining traction. Following the New Zealand massacre, the House Judiciary Committee, led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, announced that it will be holding hearings to investigate the threat of white nationalist violence in the U.S. Rep. Nadler signaled the committee intends to question figures with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI and to delve into current agency protocols and efforts to stay on top of the matter.
And Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) told a CNN town hall on Monday night that white nationalist groups “pose a threat to the United States like any other terrorist group.”