President Donald Trump left Hindus off a tweet intended to celebrate a Hindu holiday.
Trump tweeted a collection of photographs on Tuesday, of the White House’s celebration of Diwali, a five-day festival common to a number of Southeast Asian religion traditions commemorating light prevailing over darkness.
While Trump accurately referred to Buddhist, Sikhs, and Jains — three religious groups that also celebrate the holiday — he omitted Hindus, the religious group with which the holiday is most closely associated, and the largest religious group to celebrate the holiday. He also marked the holiday a week late; Diwali began on November 7.
Today, we gathered for Diwali, a holiday observed by Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains throughout the United States & around the world. Hundreds of millions of people have gathered with family & friends to light the Diya and to mark the beginning of a New Year. https://t.co/epHogpTY1A pic.twitter.com/9LUwnhngWJ— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2018
Trump initially deleted his tweet before reposting it with a different link. Neither the first nor second tweet mentioned Hindus. A follow-up tweet, sent 17 minutes later, clarified the Hindu nature of the holiday.
There are about 1 billion Hindus in the world and about 2.25 million in North America, according to the Pew Research Center.
It was my great honor to host a celebration of Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, in the Roosevelt Room at the @WhiteHouse this afternoon. Very, very special people! https://t.co/kQk7IvpSFo pic.twitter.com/tYlBABg4JF— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2018
For a different president, such an omission might be considered little more than a faux pas. But Trump has a history of ignoring or omitting significant groups and figures from commemorative speeches and tweets.
In the first month of his presidency, for example, he failed to specifically mention Jews during a speech he made on Holocaust Remembrance Day. A month later, during African-American History Month, Trump appeared to imply that Frederick Douglass, the black abolitionist and writer, was still alive, referring to him as someone “who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more.” (Douglass died in 1895.)
Within that context, Trump’s tweets on Diwali point to a much larger and far more insidious problem: his systematic lack of attention to detail when it comes to honoring the legacy of minority groups in America. Trump’s carelessness with language online is just the tip of the iceberg. It reflects his seeming wider lack of care for those Americans who are not white Christians: 57 percent of the people he governs.