Trump is 'unwilling to call this radical white nationalism': Matthew Dowd

The "This Week" Powerhouse Roundtable discusses the president's response to the New Zealand massacre.
7:47 | 03/17/19

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Transcript for Trump is 'unwilling to call this radical white nationalism': Matthew Dowd
supremacist. I'm not sure how many times I have to say that, and to ask the question every time something like this happens overseas or even domestically to say, it must somehow be the president's false, speaks to a politicization we see that undermines what's going on today. The response there from Mick Mulvaney, the president's chief of staff, talking about the attacks coming out of new Zealand this week. This is such a complicated problem. Matthew dowd, we're seeing the acceleration on social media. There is no question that we see times where terrorists echo the language of politicians in their -- in their manifestos and whatnot. The question is how do we deal with it? Well, I mean, I think -- what we have seen over the course of the last few years is we have seen this radical white supremacy, radical white nationalism that has arised. It's killed people in a mosque, it's killed people in a jewish temple. It's killed people in a church in charlottesville. It's killed people in Norway, people in France, and people in England in this. There are three things causing this, to touch on that we have to deal with. Global communications. We talked about that at the start of the show. The radicalization of people that have these feelings now being able to connect to each other in a much deeper way because of technology. Two is we don't prioritize our resources in the government in dealing with this issue. As the stats have shown, 75% of the people that have been killed by terrorism in the united States of America have been by white nationalists in this country. Not by ISIS, not by radical Islam, but we spend billions and billions and billions of dollars against radical Islam and not white nationalists and the third is the words we use and the rhetoric. When you bash immigrants and bash refugees. When you say, we want to put up a wall and when you say, we want to ban all muslims, it's not responsible for it, but it does cause this cauldron of it. This is the issue you deal with every day. Immigration reporter for "The New York Times," and it's eerie in some ways how the focus on immigration inside the manifesto of this latest killer matches the rhetoric we hear every day. It really does. It's very similar, and I think just in the same way that governor Christie before was talking about the labeling that president trump specifically does if we want to talk about him, it doesn't apply to just people. It applies to issues and it's something that he goes back to continuously. With immigration specifically, I see as an immigration reporter, him appealing to voters on their emotions about immigrants, and not on the data and not on the numbers, and in doing so, creates narratives in people's minds that for certain people, make them want to support legislation that's harsher, but for others, make them want to radicalize. It's important, and I can try my best in the newspaper to try to tug people's heels back down to the ground and make sure they really understand what we're talking about. As you pointed out, radical Islam and the impact of it, compared to radical white nationalism, they are not comparable, but it's a challenge for people like me to make that clear when we have politicians that are doing the opposite. I get why the president bristles whenever this conversation comes up. At the same time, it's hard to ignore how the rhetoric is pervasive. It's pervasive around the world. As you know, George, it was happening before Donald Trump became president, and on Matt's point, I think, you know, the reason why radical Islam is killing less people in the United States now than -- than it was well before is because we spent those resources. Because we did things. I was there as U.S. Attorney. I got nominated the day before 9/11, and so our assignment when we came in was wholly focused on that threat, analyzing that threat, putting the resources on that threat, and as a result, I think that we have diminished that threat significantly. Now we need to take a look at another threat as rising. Do we need to put similar type of resources on suppressing that threat, dealing with it from a law enforcement perspective? We can do that. We did it in the bush justice department in the post-9/11 period. We can do it in this one as well, but the president and the congress has to decide it's what they want to do. I think it's irresponsible oftentimes what we're seen as pointing fingers as a result of this. There are two people to blame for this tragedy in New Zealand. It's the gunman and the devil. I agree with secretary Johnson who says we need to lower the tone and rhetoric of the tone and dialogue we have across the country and across the world, but at the end of the day, these types of incidents are the results and the fault of the person behind the gun, and to Matt's point about white nationalism, globalism has caused a great deal of concern across this country, but I think you can say as somebody who is a person and supports my nation and this country, I can also be supportive of my nation and want to protect my boundaries. Those are not mutually exclusive and I think that needs to be considered. I don't disagree with you. I think you made some excellent points. However, the president's rhetoric when we started this campaign and throughout his presidency when he calls all muslims terrorists, Mexicans rapists, African-Americans criminals, he begins to judge people or anybody begins to judge people based on race, creed, color, sexual orientation, it creates a moment in the country when there is a rise of white nationalism that it's okay to act that way. We have a huge problem in this country that we need to focus Matt laid out clearly that in America, that has been a rise. At a minimum, the speaker of the house, and everybody in this country has to call that out for what it is and speak to it. Hit it is viral, and it will continue to get better. Let us be clear. It has been with us for a very, very long time. I want to add something with the mayor said and what he wrote, and the wonderful speech he gave in New Orleans about -- this is not new in America. It seems that every time America is changing and every time a new group gets power that -- at the start of the country. Slavery ended, blacks became citizens, women got the right to vote. When the civil rights legislation was pushed through. At every moment, there is fear in America. America changing and there is a backlash. What our leaders are responsible to do is not appeal to the fear of Americans, but the inclusiveness that really recognizes us and the love that we share together in a sense of community. We have a president today that it seems incapable. He criticized Barack Obama on a daily basis saying, how can you deal with terrorism if you call it radical Islam? He is unwilling to call this radical white nationalism. A few things. I think the thing that has made us different has been the people of this country. You haven't seen what happened in Europe when you have the rise of this any number of times over our history or the parts of the world. Americans understand how to deal with each other. They teach our leaders more than our leaders teach us. That is all the time we have today. Thanks to all of you for sharing part of your Sunday with us.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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