Shortly after an explosion occurred in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City on Saturday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told his Colorado event's crowd about a bombing. The thing is, no official had yet confirmed that the explosion was the result of a bomb. Without confirmation, Trump rushed to judgment on the Chelsea explosion — and he's giving the U.S. a very bad habit.
At least 29 people were injured in the NYC explosion, which occurred around 8:30 p.m. on West 23rd Street. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed on Saturday night that the explosion was "an intentional act," but no motive was given. A second explosive device was found nearby, but no second explosion occurred.
On Sunday morning, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo went a step further than de Blasio. "A bomb exploding in New York is obviously an act of terrorism, but it's not linked to international terrorism," he said, according to CNN. Cuomo also said that at least one thousand additional state police officers and National Guard troops would be deployed to the Chelsea neighborhood. "When you see the amount of damage, we really were lucky there were no fatalities," Cuomo said of the Chelsea explosion scene.
Before de Blasio's and Cuomo's statements, Trump referenced the explosion at a campaign event in Colorado. "I must tell you that just before I got off the plane, a bomb went off in New York and no one knows exactly what's going on," Trump said. At the time of Trump's comments, it had not been confirmed that the explosion was the result of a bomb. Beyond the bomb comments, Trump's message to his crowd was, "We've got to get very tough."
The difference between Trump's comments and those of de Blasio and Cuomo is that Trump's were not tied to any official updates. Rather, Trump jumped to a conclusion without waiting for all of the necessary information. It's the same sort of response he gave after the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub back in June. Then, Trump used the incident to validate his proposed ban on Muslim immigration to the U.S., jumping to conclusions about the shooter's motivation.
In addition to his conclusion-jumping, the anti-Muslim rhetoric that Trump's campaign has become known for has been blamed for fueling Islamophobia. That Islamophobia — fueled by Trump or not — was apparent in the wake of the Chelsea explosion and the St. Could, Minnesota, stabbings that also occurred on Saturday. There, a suspect reportedly stabbed at least eight people in a shopping mall and he may have made references to Allah during the attack.
If Trump becomes president, he'll be able to do far more than tell a crowd about some unconfirmed news in these sorts of situations. In the case of the Chelsea explosion, Trump turned out to be right about the bomb. But what if President Trump were wrong?