A suicide bombing in Manchester Arena on the 22nd of May, 2017 resulted in 23 dead (including the bomber) and around 119 more injured. The aftermath, as with any tragedy, would cause panic among the populace who will genuinely fear the possibility of it occurring closer to where they live. It is after an event like this that a leader should rise to condemn the act of terrorism and assure his people that there was no need for widespread panic – this is precisely what London Mayor Sadiq Khan said when he spoke to the BBC following the bombing.
The mayor stated that he was furious with the fact that terrorists would target the innocent and that there was no justification for acts of terrorism – and to ensure his people were safe – increasing presence of policemen in the following days. He concluded by saying that there was no reason for alarm, which in conjunction with the police; it was their duty to remain as safe as possible.
On Sunday morning, the 4th of June, President Trump began a debate on Twitter that has sparked mixed reactions – more so people that object his misinterpretation of the London Mayor’s speech. Trump started with a tweet that put the blame on political correctness rather than a violent attack. He continued with a sarcastic retort on the mayor’s assertion that there was no reason to be alarmed.
Mayor Khan had made it abundantly clear in his message to the public that the increased police president was to prevent any possibility of further attacks, and that the populace should not add to their concern. In a deeper sense, he was making it a point that anger and sadness are normal, but we should be brave and not give in to fear and intimidation – which is the intention of a terror attack.
Trump had apparently opposed the London Mayor’s message, ridiculing his call for calm, and saying that fear should be acceptable – and necessary – when such events take place. It is astonishing to see a leader of a democracy embracing, and even calling for, panic. Announcements like this are not a new tendency for the U.S. president.
Upon his, upon the announcement of his candidacy, he made an unsubstantiated claim that unauthorized immigrants were bringing crime to the United States. This was an integral part of his speech from his candidacy all the way to his inaugural address in Cleveland – a repetitive monolog claiming that his was a nation enslaved to crime. Among these declarations was an announcement to stop terrorism in the U.S. by cutting off the immigration of Muslims, to which multiple political figures and institutions forced him to repeal that promise.
People who had read Trump’s Twitter outburst affirmed that it was not coincidental, as Mayor Khan and he has interchanged arguments before. This was specifically when the president had announced his ban on Muslim immigration when he was elected, to which the Mayor, who is a Muslim, had criticized his alienation of mainstream Muslims.
Trump has used his embrace of panic to accomplish a specific objective: To prove that he is a solution – that he alone can fix it. As an ally of the United Kingdom, many had expected aid from the U.S., although that may be hoping for too much as his State Department in its current state remains understaffed.
Many surmise that the feud between Khan and Trump will continue, as the mayor stands as a contradictory testament to what Trump desires. The mayor appeals to a more calm and composed way of dealing with terror attacks – which is the direct opposite of the president’s panic-fuelled approach. Khan is also a Muslim, who has proven himself a strong democratic leader which threatens Trump’s claim that Muslims are a threat to Western society.