Crime is out of control, and rapidly getting worse. Look what is going on in Chicago and our inner cities. Not good!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2016
Just released that international gangs are all over our cities. This will end when I am President!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2016
Many Americans in these major cities resented the depiction of them as primarily places of criminal activity and blight that don't contribute to the fabric of America. The majority of those living in major cities — especially on the coasts — overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton.
This tension resurfaced in the moments after the largest terrorist attack in New York City since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as some conservatives began to send their “thoughts and prayers” to people in New York City, despite spending much of the campaign and the following months criticizing them.
And some used the opportunity to focus on Muslims and immigration policy.
NYC suspect yelled “Allah Akbar” when he excited the vehicle. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Manhattan. ❤️🙏❤️— Shastina Sandman (@Shastina_Eloff) October 31, 2017
But many New Yorkers weren't having it.
“If you dislike New York and New Yorkers except when something bad happens that could serve a narrative you peddle, kindly f--- off forever,” tweeted Amos Posner, a writer and director.
"The same Republicans who criticize New York as a city of coastal elitist and extreme left liberals, now want to offer their thoughts and prayers. As someone who lives in the New York area, we don’t want their thoughts and prayers,” said attorney Michael Starr Hopkins, an alum of the Obama and Clinton campaign. “We want an end to the type of politicization that puts New Yorkers lives at risk. We want an end to the irresponsible rhetoric that makes it easier for these murderers to self-radicalize.”
Others, like Patrick Blanchfield, a faculty member at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, bemoaned the generalizations some conservatives make about Americans in cities while supporting Republican leaders who hold the same “coastal elite” values.
“Various GOP luminaries will bash ‘New York values’ only to promptly travel to the Waldorf or Wall Street to fundraise, or how the same WH talking heads who condemn the city and coast elites more generally frequently are New Yorkers themselves and Ivy-League grads at that,” Blanchfield told The Fix.
And Dorian Warren, a New York City-based activist focused on issues impacting low-income communities, said the latest response is consistent with how many conservatives respond when a tragedy impacts a major city. But he told The Fix that's not how many New Yorkers respond.
“There is also the disconnect in terms of the real dangers those of us in big cities deal with every day,” Warren said. "Our response, like most of the elected officials from [New York] stated this morning, is to keep living our lives in an open way in very diverse places, as opposed to the reflex to exclude others, especially immigrants and those that look different from us.”
The moments following terrorist attacks are opportunities for the country to unify, but that is increasingly harder for many to do when so much time is otherwise spent being divisive. Despite not winning a lot of support from city centers, Trump's team often reminds critics that he is the president of all of the United States. Some in more liberal, urban centers want the rest of the country to know that they too are valuable citizens of this country, and not just when it works to further their political agendas.