Donald Trump, like most Republicans, is unafraid to use the national tragedy that was 9/11 as a political prop. This is hardly news, as he did it during his presidential campaign back in 2016, imagining he saw hordes of Muslims cheering in the streets in Hoboken celebrating that day of infamy. And on the day of the attack itself, he falsely declared Trump Tower to be the tallest building in New York. In other words, he can only think of these events in terms of how they affect him directly. So when Rep. Ilhan Omar spoke about 9/11 during an event hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to question her patriotism and her motives. Fox News and House Republicans quickly followed suit – but they may not have made the wisest move in doing so.
Donald Trump’s own actions on 9/11 go beyond any of his rhetoric – and beyond any statements that Omar or the Democrats have made regarding that day – something revealed on Sunday by House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler. Even though his business at 40 Wall Street was over a mile away from Ground Zero and sustained no damage in the attacks, Donald Trump accepted $150,000 in federal disaster relief funds.
The funds were intended for small businesses impacted by the disaster, and by no federal standard did Trump’s development at that address fall into the category of a small business, but he was reimbursed through a state agency that didn’t comply with those guidelines. He also wasn’t the first to receive federal funds by using this loophole – depriving small businesses of money needed to stay afloat. Not surprisingly, Trump and most Republicans in general, love to pretend they’re on the side of small business – but rarely is the reality more blatantly obvious than this.
The more you look, the clearer it is that Donald Trump is desperate to find a new cover for his Islamophobic views, and the GOP is quietly testing the waters behind him to see how much of it they can get away with themselves. Considering his appalling responses to Charlottesville, Hurricane Maria, Ground Zero and the Great Recession which he openly prayed for so he could make more money, every national crisis is another opportunity for Donald Trump to prove he’s exactly the opposite of the leader we need.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making