Last night a crowd of hundreds in South Carolina stood and cheered for a leading American politician calling for the banning of an entire religious group from entering the United States. It will likely stand (for at least a week) as the low point of the 2016 election cycle and seemed like a frightening moment in American history as a whole.
How on earth have we gotten here? That question, actually, is easily answerable and was fully predictable. For weeks Donald Trump has tried to convince the world that American Muslims were celebrating on 9/11, making arguments you typically only hear from a hate group. He’s denigrated and demonized immigrants since his campaign launch, and promoted false statistics on his Twitter feed about black Americans being inherently more violent.
But this… this Muslim ban is something new and different, and it’s incredibly dangerous. He’s not just proposing that no new Muslims enter America (though that’d be bad enough). Trump is actually advocating that all American citizens currently abroad now who are Muslims should not be let back in.
People may very well get killed over this. Trump has already whipped people into a frenzy over how dangerous he thinks Muslims are. How soon until mosques get burned down or American Muslims are attacked in the streets? Racists in this country are ecstatic that they have someone making their case for them at such a prominent level. On the other end, ISIS just got a new recruitment talking point to frustrated Muslims. How many young Muslim men around the world will take this as proof that America – and a significant portion of the American people – despise Islam? Trump’s plan is a boon to our enemies.
How is this acceptable? How is any of this acceptable?
So far, no one is willing to take any steps to really combat Trump. Jeb Bush called him “unhinged,” Graham said he’s a “race-baiting, xenophobic” bigot. That’s nice, but it won’t do anything. Everyone praised Speaker Paul Ryan for strongly criticizing Trump’s idea at a press conference this morning, but then he said he’d support Trump if he becomes the Republican nominee. So Trump basically suffers no consequences and goes on his merry way.
If this all shows one thing, it’s the American political and media system is utterly unprepared to deal with a potential tyrant and fascist building power, or at the least allowing his un-American ideas to take hold. How is this lunatic leading the polls of a major political party? How have they not forced him out of their primary yet?
This is how Trump acts when he slips to SECOND in one poll in Iowa. Just imagine what happens when he struggles in national polls. At what point does he outright suggest rounding up Muslims and putting them in camps like the Japanese in World War II (which he actually said today he supported FDR’s actions on that). Would anyone really be that surprised if he does?
And think of what could happen if Trump actually became President (almost impossible, probably). What do you think he’d do if his approval ratings floundered or his legislation failed to pass Congress? He’s already shown what he does when in a pinch: whip up racist sentiments and try to vilify entire communities. Now imagine what a man with the full powers of the Presidency could do to actually enact some of that.
Donald Trump needs to be stopped, and stopped now. Statements of condemnation are not enough. It’s not like you’re going to change his mind. He needs to be run out of the Republican primary race immediately. If he runs as an independent, so be it.
This isn’t business as usual in our political discourse, and the reactions cannot treat it as such. Public and private event spaces should refuse to hold Trump events. His Secret Service protection should be revoked. It’s outrageous our tax dollars are going to protect this madman. And news organizations should have some serious discussions of how they cover Trump. Obviously this is a massive story, but you can’t just give him free live coverage for hours to spout off without doing some real push-back on his crazier statements.
Most importantly, however, is what the Republican Party does. So far their entire handling of Donald Trump’s candidacy this cycle has been a complete failure, a total debacle that shows they’re not serious about appealing to minority voters or even holding a serious conversation about the direction of the country. They have a fascist as their front-runner, and all they can muster is some tsk-tsk statements from a handful of their leaders. The Republican Party is fully complicit in the new wave of Islamophobia that is sweeping the country.
As I wrote back in July, how is any of this going to get better for Republicans? The Trump problem will not simply go away – he’s going to get worse and worse (as he already has) and do increasingly more damage to the Republican brand. It’s starting to feel like he’ll run as a third party candidate anyway, so keeping him in the party does no good.
They should be banning him from the debates and calling on him to drop out. State Republican parties should dis-invite him from any event. And there should be consequences for those who assist Trump. He can’t run a campaign on his own. Trump’s political hired guns like Iowans Chuck Laudner and Sam Clovis should never find another job in Republican politics again if they don’t resign immediately. They are working for a fascist. That should hang like an albatross around their neck for the rest of their professional careers.
But it looks like little of this will happen, because no one – amazingly – has the guts to really stand up to someone calling for an entire religious group to be banned from entering America. Reince Preibus, the chair of the RNC, still has not commented on Trump. It’s insane.
Republicans are angry that Obama and Clinton won’t call ISIS “radical Islamic terrorism?” How about you call out the fascist in your own party first.
by Pat Rynard