New Zealand mosque shooting: Piers Morgan asks Donald Trump to denounce white supremacists or "be damned by his silence"
The journalist said the US president's failure to condemn white supremacists after the 2017 Charlottesville attack emboldened them further
The mass shootings at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch in New Zealand by suspected gunman Brenton Tarrant, 27, left 49 dead and at least another 20 injured. The suspect has been charged for murder and appeared in court on Saturday over them.
Before carrying out the shooting, Tarrant uploaded a 74-page, 16,500-word manifesto onto social media websites such as 8chan and Twitter in which he explained his motivations and reasoning behind the attack, including as revenge for "the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders in European lands," "the enslavement of millions of Europeans taken from their lands by Islamic slavers," and "the thousands of European lives lost to terror attacks."
Slamming Tarrant, Piers Morgan called the attack "an act of terrorism by a white supremacist that hates people not like him," pointing to a line in the manifesto where the 27-year-old had written he wanted to "ensure the existence of our people, and a future for white children’ and to ‘directly reduce immigration rates to European lands" as proof for his assertion.
Morgan wrote in the Daily Mail that while Tarrant had claimed he got the idea for targeting a mosque after watching a video on Facebook, his motivation "lay in very old-fashioned white supremacist values" and that President Donald Trump — who Tarrant described in his manifesto as a "symbol of white identity and common purpose" — is partly responsible for the gunman's actions.
He said that while he didn't hold Trump personally responsible, the president was responsible for "his abject failure to properly denounce these kind of white supremacists and make it crystal clear that he holds them in nothing but absolute contempt."
Morgan criticized Trump's words after the Charlottesville attack in 2017 when a white supremacist had plowed a car into a car of counterprotesters, killing activist Heather Heyer. Instead of denouncing the white supremacists, Trump had said there were "very fine people on both sides."
"He should have understood that his words, as the most powerful man on earth, have huge impact around the world, and that every far-right white supremacist will have taken succor from his failure to properly denounce them that day," Morgan wrote.
He also brought up the fact that Trump had, time and again, encouraged the white supremacists with his behavior, including when he retweeted a series of Islamophobic videos uploaded by British far-right group Britain First — which has since been banned — in 2017.
Trump did express his condolences to the people of Christchurch following the attacks, but Morgan insisted it was not enough. "When far-right white supremacist names you as one of his inspirations for one of the worst terrorist attacks ever perpetrated, you need to come out and denounce him with the full force of your presidency," he wrote, adding, "Speak up against them, Mr President, or be rightly damned by your silence."
On being asked whether he saw white nationalism as a rising global threat during a meeting in the Oval office, Trump is reported to have said, “I don’t. I don’t really. It’s a small group of people...But it is a terrible thing."