On Wednesday night, President Donald Trump delivered the first joint congressional address of his presidential career ― not technically a State of the Union, but the same thing for all intents and purposes. And a certain heroic man who was injured in a recent, high-profile incident of racial hate had a message for Trump going in: Ian Grillot wanted President Trump to acknowledge the Olathe shooting in his speech. And, though Trump did begin by referencing recent anti-Semitic incidents and "the shooting in Kansas City," was it ultimately enough?
Speaking to CNN's Alisyn Camerota on Tuesday morning, Grillot ― who was shot while attempting to stop a gunman who murdered a pair of Indian men at a bar in Olathe, Kansas last week ― called on Trump to explicitly acknowledge what happened, saying it was "saddening" that it hadn't yet been addressed.
While only Grillot can answer whether he was satisfied with Trump's statement ― and make no mistake, Trump did specifically mention what happened in Olathe last week, though he didn't speak on the details with any depth ― there were at least a few potential issues with it.
Namely, while Trump did open his address by referencing and denouncing anti-Semitism and racial hatred, he didn't name any kind of specific racial hatred besides anti-Semitism ― nothing explicitly about hatred directed towards Latinos, Muslims, or people of Middle Eastern descent, in other words. That's a notable omission, because reports suggest the Olathe killings were motivated by the shooter's incorrect belief that his two Indian victims were in fact Iranian.
It also raises the question of what good it does to begin a speech with a condemnation of such hatred if you're going to advance false and misleading claims about the violent criminality of immigrants later in the same speech. Trump has done this frequently, both as a candidate and as president, and he stayed true to form on Tuesday night, announcing the creation of a Department of Homeland Security office specifically addressing victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. It's a role he teased in an executive order last month pledging to "make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens."
Considering that undocumented immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than American citizens do, this can really be seen as nothing more than scapegoating for political purposes. If Trump were aiming to create a DHS office specializing in victims of violent crimes committed by any particular group ― which is a needless and inflammatory gesture regardless ― the statistics would suggest he should sooner focus on American citizens than immigrants.
In short, while Trump did more than many observers probably thought he would, it was also far less than would've been deemed acceptable for a typical president. It's also worth noting that mere hours before delivering the speech, he suggested that the recent wave of anti-Semitic bomb threats and graveyard defilements may have been committed by people trying to make him look bad.