Trump's bigoted retweets are a national security threat

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Coronavirus hits defense contractor jobs Wake up America, your country doesn't value your life MORE went too far — again.

But this time, his reckless, bigoted Twitter activity is a national security risk to the United States.

Wednesday, Donald Trump decided to use his platform as president to spread videos from a neo-fascist account linked to the hate group Britain First.

ADVERTISEMENT

He re-tweeted Jayda Fransen, a bigot who has even appeared on the neo-Nazi radio station “Radio Aryan” and who has been arrested — and convicted — multiple times for hate crimes against Muslims or inciting religious hatred. At least one of the videos that Trump shared from her account was fake. 

 

In response, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May rightly called Trump’s Twitter activity “wrong” and said it was against British values to spread neo-fascist ideas or to validate hate mongering. (She’s absolutely right, and it’s against American values too, by the way).

Donald Trump punched back by tweeting at a random woman with a handful of followers on Twitter named Theresa Scrivener. He later corrected his mistaken tweet, directing his second outburst at the correct account of Theresa May, telling her to mind her own business and focus on radical Islamic terrorism in the U.K.. He added, “We are doing just fine!” 

For the record, the United States is not “doing just fine” when it comes to mass murder. More people were killed in the Las Vegas mass shooting that happened two months ago than have been killed by Islamist terror in the United Kingdom since at least 2005. 

Trump’s tweets may be lunacy; they may be bigoted; they may be distractions; and they may be the impulsive outbursts of an unwell person. Whatever they are, they matter. They are statements from the president, and they are the representation of the American people on the global stage, whether we like it or not.

Now, his tweets are threatening our security by alienating our most powerful ally. 

Throughout modern history, when Americans have made the call, Brits have answered. They have supported American foreign policy on virtually every front. The U.S. government coordinates with the British government on virtually every matter of international significance.

British soldiers have died alongside our soldiers in combat, from the beaches of Normandy to the most far-flung reaches of Afghanistan after we asked for their help in the wake of 9/11.

The blood spilled on the beaches of Normandy was spilled to defeat fascism. Ironically, the diplomatic "special relationship" is now being tested because the White House is promoting a neo-fascist group.

Today, the British House of Commons spent hours condemning Trump’s bigotry and debating whether or not the British government should rescind a state visit invitation to the president of the United States.

To put it plainly, our closest and most important ally isn’t even sure if they should welcome our president to the country any longer. This is an unprecedented low point.

Trump’s attempts to mainstream neo-fascist hatred and his attacks on Theresa May were on the front page of Britain’s major newspapers this morning. Trump’s bigotry isn’t a sideshow. The rest of the world — and our closest allies — are watching, and they are watching with disgust.

Trump’s "America First" foreign policy, which now includes an apparent embrace of the neo-Nazi Britain First extremists, is bringing the United States closer to an "America Alone" reality. 

This is only going to get worse, because Trump represents a political problem for the leaders of allied nations. Trump is deeply unpopular among the populations of our allies.

A June 2017 Pew Research survey found that confidence in U.S. leadership from Obama to Trump is down 75 percent in Germany, 71 percent in South Korea, 70 percent in France, 57 percent in the U.K. and 54 percent in Japan.

Those are staggering figures, and those numbers don’t reflect further erosions of support after Trump’s erratic and un-American behavior over the last several months. 

But for people like Theresa May, being seen as an ally of Donald Trump is itself politically damaging. She’s taking serious heat in domestic politics for not meaningfully distancing Britain from Trump’s America. The more that Trump behaves like Trump, the more that pressure will ratchet up.

Every leader of our close allies faces the same catch-22: Alienating Trump may be awful for the country’s strategic interests, but cozying up to Trump is certainly awful for their own political prospects. 

We cannot afford such daily damage to our global relationships.

The greatest challenges that lie ahead — difficult problems such as international terrorism, climate change, job disruption from automation and global trade, transnational civil wars and aggression from the Kremlin — cannot be solved by America alone.

We need our allies. America is stronger with them. Instead of courting their support, the president of the United States is actively pushing them away.

Brian Klaas is a fellow at the London School of Economics and author of the new book, "The Despot’s Apprentice: Donald Trump’s Attack on Democracy."