Appearing Monday on MSNBC’s The 11th Hour, NBC News national security contributor Frank Figliuzzi told host Brian Williams that President Donald Trump was at least inadvertently sending a secret message to the “white supremacist movement” by ordering U.S. flags flown at half-mast due to the deadly shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, to be re-raised on August 8th.
A partial transcript is as follows:
Frank, what were the signs and how do we know how to navigate [white supremacist terrorism] tomorrow and the next day? This starts becoming the definition of terrorism when people develop anxiety about what should be free-flowing public places.
Exactly right. The definition of terrorism is conduct designed to co-intimidate the civilian population, and if we don’t take action quickly, then that will continue to play out. I have a piece out just tonight in the New York Times on what, sadly, I think is going to happen next if we don’t disrupt the chain of radicalization.
What were the warning signs for me, Brian, ironically, they weren’t from my experience in domestic terrorism, but rather they were from my experience in international terrorism and radicalization to Islamic jihad. You see the same things happening now in white hate groups and white supremacy groups where not only is the Internet facilitating the speed of radicalization but our leader, our chief executive is seen as almost a mentor and a radicalizer and unfortunately, today, we did not hear what we needed to hear from that person that these extremists and unstable people look to.
He spoke in the passive voice, in the collective voice. We didn’t hear first-person from him. We didn’t hear “I condemn” white hate ideology. We heard “the nation” must condemn it. Well, the nation does condemn it, but we didn`t hear what we needed to hear, so what happens is the extremists interpreted what the president read off a script today as something he needed to say, something he didn’t really want to say. So, the president is either getting really good advice and rejecting it or is getting really bad advice. And I’ll give you an example of that. We have to understand the adversary and the threat we’re dealing with. And if we don’t understand how they think, we’ll never understand how to encounter them. So it’s little things and language and messaging that matters. The president said that we will fly our flags at half-mast until August 8th. That`s 8/8. Now, I’m not going to imply that he did this deliberately but I am using it as an example of the ignorance of the adversary that`s being demonstrated by the White House.
The numbers 88 are very significant in neo-Nazi and white supremacist movement. Why? Because the letter H is the eighth letter of the alphabet and to them, the numbers 88 together stand for “Heil Hitler.” So we’re going to be raising the flag back up at dusk on 8/8. No one is thinking about this. No one is giving him advice or he’s rejecting the advice. So, understand your adversary to counter the adversary.
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