So where were all the protesters four months ago, when President Trump was absolutely silent and tweetless about the arbitrary murder of a black man by a white supremacist just 15 blocks from his fabled tower?
Where was the outrage when Trump ignored news of this domestic terrorism in his hometown but tweeted on the very same day about an American victim of a terror attack in London:
“A great American, Kurt Cochran, was killed in the London terror attack. My prayers and condolences are with his family and friends.”
The victim in New York was 66-year-old Timothy Caughman. He did considerable tweeting on his own. His Twitter profile read:
“can and bottle recycler, autograph collector in new york city and i would love to visit california. Im a good businessman.”
He had posted numerous photos of himself with various celebrities. He tweeted a selfie on Election Day:
“Standing on line waiting to vote I love America,” he wrote.
On the night of March 20, Caughman paused at the corner of Ninth Avenue and West 36th Street, just down from the single room occupancy hotel where he had resided since 1998 and only a few strides from the back entrance to the Midtown South police precinct.
He was a pastor’s son and had a college degree, and he was a big time reader, and in his earlier years he had been an antipoverty worker and a concert promoter, putting on one of Earth, Wind and Fire’s early gigs. He now supplemented his Social Security check by gathering discarded bottles and cans, then collecting the deposit.
The street word for this is redeeming. Anybody who knew Caughman would have found it only fitting that he would have been termed a redeemer, for he was gracious and respectful and always ready to help those he encountered. He gave much, but asked little. He enjoyed meeting celebrities, but he possessed such a stellar spirit that it sometimes seemed it was they who had met him.
If an assailant had confronted him face to face, Caughman might have demonstrated the boxing skills that had served him well against bullies in his youth and prompted some to call him Hard Rock. But he was bent over a corner trash basket, made vulnerable by one of the rituals of redeeming, when a Caucasian figure with a sword suddenly appeared.
The police would identify the man as James Jackson, a 28-year-old veteran who had served a year in Afghanistan. He lived outside Baltimore, where he had boarded a New York-bound bus on St. Patrick’s Day. He was heading to New York not because of the big parade that goes up Fifth Avenue past Trump Tower but because, as he would later tell detectives, “Manhattan is the media center of the world.”
As it happened, Caughman tweeted a St. Patrick’s Day greeting to everyone, his Twitter handle @timrock715 apparently an amalgam of his given name, his old nickname, and his birthday. He posted People magazine’s Best St. Patrick’s Day Reading List, along with a photo of James Joyce and a retweeted picture of the Irish Special Olympics team.
Caughman could not have had any idea that this day also brought to New York a racist bent on random murder. Jackson checked into a Times Square hotel and spent the next three days and nights wandering with the purpose of killing a black man. He would subsequently say he hoped to go on to kill many more.
Surveillance video shows that he followed one man for a time. He later told detectives that he turned away because there were too many people around.
At 11:30 p.m. on March 20, Jackson came upon Caughman at a vulnerable moment in the midst of redeeming. Jackson would later tell detectives and a reporter that he repeatedly stabbed Caughman with the sword’s 18-inch blade.
“I figured they were fatal blows,” Jackson recounted.
Just after midnight on March 23, Jackson surrendered to the police for reasons that are not entirely clear. He was charged with murder and arraigned the following day.
“James Jackson prowled the streets of New York for three days in search of a black person to assassinate in order to launch a campaign of terrorism against our Manhattan community and the values we celebrate,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement.
Vance continued: “With total presence of mind, he acted on his plan, randomly selecting a beloved New Yorker solely on the basis of his skin color, and stabbing him repeatedly and publicly on a Midtown street corner. James Jackson wanted to kill black men, planned to kill black men, and then did kill a black man.”
The day of Jackson’s arrest, terrorism of the Islamic variety in London that claimed the life of an American prompted a presidential response from President Trump.
Trump said exactly nothing about the terrorism of the white supremacist variety that claimed the life of his fellow New Yorker.
In questioning by detectives, Jackson said he had hated black people since he was 3 but had only connected with people who shared his views years later online.
“The white race is being eroded,” he said.
Jackson seemed particularly fond of The Daily Stormer, a website also frequented by James Fields, who was arraigned Monday on a murder charge for driving his Dodge Charger into a crowd of demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. She seems to have been as stellar a spirit as was Caughman.
The horror in Charlottesville was national news, an instance of domestic terrorism Trump could not just ignore.
But no politically correct liberal was ever more careful not to offend than was Trump when he delivered a statement from his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey.
The difference is that a liberal would worry about bruising the feelings of minorities or women or gays. Trump seems to have been worried about bruising the feelings of Nazis and the alt-right and other white supremacists.
He started out fine enough, reading from the teleprompter:
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence…”
He then raised his eyes, and it is not clear whether what followed was in the prepared text or impromptu:
“… on many sides…”
He repeated the words that seemed intended to ensure he was blaming everyone and therefore not in particular the folks who were actually to blame.
“… on many sides...”
His obvious concern was not to offend supporters from whom he once sought votes and now periodically seeks affirmation in boisterous rallies where he can say things such as, “Anybody see any Russians here?”
Trump very well might not have actually colluded with the Russians. But he certainly did collude with the white supremacists and racists and Islamophobes among the majority of his supporters, who are generally decent working people simply disaffected with the way the country has been going.
The statement from Bedminster pleased The Daily Stormer, the favored website not just of Jackson and Fields but also of Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who gunned down nine black people in the South Carolina church in 2015.
“No condemnation at all,” The Daily Stormer rejoiced. “When asked to condemn, [Trump] just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”
But his “many sides… many sides” statement displeased even a number of top Republican and business leaders and several CEOs. Trump flew to Washington on Monday and finally denounced the poisonous haters he could and should have separated himself from long ago.
“Racism is evil,” Trump declared. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
He of course could not refrain from tweeting that the press was reprehensible for suggesting he was two days late and had spoken out of expediency, not conviction.
“Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied...truly bad people!”
Trump then headed for New York, where thousands of protesters were gathered outside the tower by which he had marked his ascension from Queens to Manhattan, which he also knew to be the media center of the world.
“New York hates you! New York hates you!” the protesters chanted, knowing Trump was on the way.
They then took up a chant that would have been even more appropriate had they been out protesting after the killing of Caughman in March.
“Black lives matter! Black lives matter!”
As the big moment neared, a pair of black unmarked cars with flashing lights blocked Fifth Avenue. The crowd kept on with chants about the alt-right and Nazis and white supremacists, who had spent six months organizing their big rally in Charlottesville on Saturday and collectively managed to gather a crowd less than a fifth the size of the one that appeared almost spontaneously outside Trump Tower on Monday night.
Yet however paltry its numbers, the alt-right is a good foe to oppose. That saves the ult-left from having to do the real work, which is to appeal to the many Trump supporters who are not deplorables but regular working people who felt so abandoned by the system that they were willing to back a compulsively dishonest and ultimately dangerous narcissist. Their continuing support for him is a continuing measure of the Democrats’ failure, which includes attitudes that made the emails hacked by the Russians so damaging.
At 8:51 p.m., the presidential motorcade approached. A HUGE boo went up as a gleaming black limousine carried Trump up to his tower. He had come back to a New York that is in truth more the city of Timothy Caughman than the city of Donald Trump.
He rode an elevator up to the penthouse he says is on the 68th floor but is really on the 58th.
“Feels good to be home after seven months, but the White House is very special, there is no place like it... and the U.S. is really my home!” Trump tweeted from on high.
He had still not tweeted or said anything about the murder of Caughman, whose name seemed to mean nothing to the protesters who continued to chant in the street, many waving signs made from file folders or sheets of papers as they came directly from work.
“Shame!” they chanted. “Shame!”