It’s been a little over an hour since we heard about the horror in Nice, France — a truck driver running over a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 70 people. We don’t know really anything about what happened beyond that, but Donald Trump has already fired off an I-told-you-so tweet:
Another horrific attack, this time in Nice, France. Many dead and injured. When will we learn? It is only getting worse.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2016
The tweet is quite vague, but Trump seems to be referencing his constant warnings about the threat from radical Islamist groups. The tweet is a form of taking credit: Trump warned that jihadists pose a threat to the West, and then jihadis killed Westerners.
We’ve seen this sentiment from him before, most infamously when he wrote “appreciate the congrats” after the Orlando attack:
Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
It’s important to note here that we don’t know anything about the Nice perpetrator’s motives. It’s quite possible that this is an ISIS or al-Qaeda sympathizer. It’s also possible that it’s a left-wing or right-wing extremist, committing terrorism in the name of another cause.
It’s also still possible that the attack isn’t terrorism at all. Terrorism definitionally requires the attacker to have some political objective in mind, which mass violence doesn’t always. The Aurora and Sandy Hook mass shootings in the United States are good examples.
The point, then, is that Trump is jumping the gun by suggesting that Islamists are responsible — something he’s done before.