US President Donald Trump’s first address to Congress barely touched touched upon the critical issue of hate crimes in the US, their rise and his plans to curb them. Instead of addressing the issue, he chose to stay silent on most parts with a simple broad condemnation of hate crimes. He, instead, said that strictly imposed immigration laws were crucial to making America safer.
Last Wednesday, 51-year-old US navy veteran Adam Purinton opened fire on two Indians in Kansas, killing one and injuring another. Indian techie Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed in the incident and his friend Alok Madasani, 32, was injured. A 24-year-old US citizen Ian Grillot tried to save both but he was injured too.
Reportedly, Purinton shouted “terrorists… get out of my country” before opening fire on the two Indians and mistaken both to be Muslims or immigrants from the Middle East. Speaking on hate crimes in his joint address on Wednesday, Trump stated: “We condemn hate in all its ugly forms, the threats targeting Jewish centres and the Kansas shooting”
His America First tagline also reappeared in his address and he stated, “America must put its own citizens first, because only then can we truly make America great again… We are going to move away from lower-skilled immigration and adopt a merit-based system. By finally enforcing immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions of dollars and make our communities safer.”
Even before the attacks on Indian citizens, hate crimes spiked in the US. Trump has ordered strict immigration restrictions, imposed anti-Muslim and xenophobic policies and stayed in denial of the attacks on minorities.
The fact that it was American citizens who have been carrying out hate attacks should have ideally found mention in Trump’s speech. By staying mum on that subject, he has again brushed the issue under the carpet and sort of blamed immigrants and minorities for the crimes that are being perpetrated against them.
His silence speaks volumes about the priorities of his regime. He has been shockingly quiet on incidents of hate crimes and his administration has been brushing away these incidents as acts of misguided individuals. However, he chooses to brush whole communities with the same brush when such an act is done by someone from a minority community or a foreign national.
His campaign was filled with inflammatory rhetoric and this administration’s policies seem no different. Hate crimes like the Kansas attacks have followed a wave of racist attacks and this wave continues unabated. White House stayed in denial and refused to link the two. Though he mustered up the courage to speak up against hate crimes and anti-semitism emerging again in the country, he didn’t promise any action against the perpetrators.