On Wednesday, President Donald Trump re-tweeted three videos depicting Muslims carrying out various acts of violence, which were originally tweeted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the Britain First group in the UK.
Britain First is regarded by many as an extremist right-wing organization, and describes itself as “a patriotic political party and street movement” that is opposed to immigration and to Muslim immigration in particular.
CNN described Fransen as a “convicted racist,” which is somewhat confusing for an American audience, since the activities that Fransen was convicted for in Britain would likely be protected by the First Amendment in the U.S.
Still, even without knowing more about Fransen or Britain First, the president was wrong to retweet what she had posted. There is no way of knowing whether the videos are authentic, and — most important — when and where they were made.
The caption for the first tweet describes an “Islamist mob” allegedly pushing a teenager off the building. Franzen at least uses the term “Islamist,” which refers to a political ideology. However, her second tweet simply refers to a “Muslim” shown destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary, and her third tweet refers to a “Muslim migrant.” These references seem intended to conflate the misdeeds of one person with the behavior of a group as a whole.
That is not only provocative, but risky, as it encourages prejudice and hatred and could also provoke retaliation. At best, the tweets are sloppy. At worst, they are hate speech — not illegal, but not what an American leader should condone.
It is true that there is some support for radical Islam in the Muslim world, and among Muslim immigrants. But that is the view of a small minority, albeit a vocal and visible one that intimidates more moderate Muslim voices.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended President Trump’s tweets by arguing that “these are real threats that we have to talk about.”
That is certainly true, but there are more reputable sources to cite, and there are better ways to talk about it than to promote videos that blur the line between the innocent and the guilty.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.