These tragic incidents have felt all too common recently, as the Orlando shooting occurred less than a month ago.
In the wake of terror attacks, the best thing for people to do is exhibit solidarity, as the goal of terrorism is to incite fear and division.
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, has done the complete opposite in response to a series of major terror attacks. He is writing the manual on what not to do in response to terrorism.
After the awful events in Istanbul, Turkey, Trump reiterated a call for waterboarding, a deplorable kind of torture that is not only inhumane and illegal (and a violation of everything the US purports to stand for), but completely ineffective.
Torture is not who we are, it's not right and it doesn't work.
Donald Trump's response to this terror attack is precisely the kind of mentality that incites more terror. It paints a corrupt and evil picture of the US and the West, a narrative that is central to the recruiting efforts of terror organizations like ISIS.
Trump is a walking piece of terrorist propaganda.
Correspondingly, Michael Hayden, the former head of both the CIA and the NSA, said in a recent interview with The Guardian,
The jihadist narrative is that there is undying enmity between Islam and the modern world so when Trump says they all hate us, he's using their narrative… he's feeding their recruitment video.
From Paris to Istanbul, Donald Trump has responded to acts of terror in the worst ways possible.
Paris attacks -- November 13, 2015
After the Paris attacks, Donald Trump suggested that bombing the oil fields ISIS controlled could've helped prevent the attack. But, there's just one thing about Trump's I-told-you-so tweet -- the US was already doing that.
In essence, Trump made an unnecessary and misleading remark in order to paint himself as tougher on terrorism than the Obama administration. He attempted to use a terror attack to further his political agenda.
Trump also suggested the victims of the Paris attacks would've been better off if they'd had guns.
But the notion that a "good guy with a gun" can save the day in an active shooter situation is a complete myth. Perhaps someone should inform him guns are very rarely used to prevent crimes or kill criminals. The numbers don't lie: Where there are more guns, there is more death.
Not to mention, many of the deaths in Paris were a consequence of suicide bombers, not guns.
San Bernardino shooting -- December 2, 2015
In the wake of the San Bernardino shooting, Donald Trump proposed banning all Muslim immigration to the US. This is not only contrary to American values, it's precisely the kind of rhetoric that aids terrorist propaganda.
He also suggested the Muslim community in San Bernardino knew about the attack before it happened, in spite of no evidence to support this assertion whatsoever. It's yet another example of the real estate mogul inciting unfounded fear against Muslims.
With individuals like Trump around, is it any surprise hate crimes against Muslims in the US tripled after San Bernardino?
Brussels attacks -- March 22, 2016
After the tragic attacks in Brussels in March, Donald Trump took to Twitter to congratulate himself for being "correct about terrorism." Concurrently, he attempted to remind voters to support him (how admirable and selfless).
This is yet another example of what not to do after a terror attack: Don't make it about you, and don't spread fear.
Orlando shooting -- June 12, 2016
The attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June was the worst mass shooting in US history. Instead of focusing on the victims, Trump once again made a tragedy about himself and furthered the regressive narrative surrounding "radical Islamic terrorism" or "radical Islam" -- a talking point certain conservatives continue to hark on in spite of its overall irrelevance.
Emile Nakhleh, who worked in the CIA during the George W. Bush administration, recently stated,
The recent verbal attacks by the Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump and his supporters on President Barack Obama for avoiding the phrase 'radical Islam' in his public pronouncements are simplistic, racially inflammatory — and flatly misinformed. Settling upon accurate and strategically nuanced terms to describe the post-9/11 enemy is not the product of 'political correctness' (contra Trump)... The Bush administration understood the power of words, too. It concluded that distinctions that may seem small to Christian-American ears make a big difference to the mainstream Muslims we need on our side... To Muslims, or for anyone familiar with the many strands of Islam, the phrase connotes a direct link between the mainstream of the Muslim faith and the violent acts of a few.
Indeed, Donald Trump's rhetoric surrounding terrorism, and Muslims, is not only bigoted, it's dangerous.
If you're not sure how to respond to a terror attack, that's perfectly understandable. These events are extremely disheartening and scary, and it can be hard to find the right words to truly express how one feels in the aftermath.
But, if nothing else, avoid what Donald Trump does: Don't spread hate, division and fear, as these are the primary goals of terrorists.
Citations: Istanbul Ataturk airport attack: 41 dead and more than 230 hurt (BBC), The 5 Most Damning Revelations From The CIA's Report On Bush-Era Torture (ThinkProgress), A New ISIS Recruitment Video Stars Donald Trump (Mother Jones), Al-Shabaab recruit video with Trump excerpt: U.S. is racist, anti-Muslim (CNN), CIA ex-boss: secretive spooks tolerated in UK more than in US (The Guardian), Memo to Trump: Bombing Those Oilfields? Check (Bloomberg), No, Donald Trump, The Paris Victims Would Not Have Been 'Better Off' With Guns (ThinkProgress), Trump Repeats False Claim That Muslims Knew In Advance Of San Bernardino Shooting (BuzzFeed), Hillary Clinton says anti-Muslim hate crimes tripled after Paris, San Bernardino (PolitiFact), I worked in the CIA under Bush. Obama is right to not say "radical Islam." (Vox)