The world collectively condemned GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump for his latest anti-Islam rant, in which the xenophobic real estate mogul called for an outright ban of Muslims entering the country in light of recent attacks.
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” Trump said Monday night in South Carolina.
Emphatic denunciations were widespread. The White House said his ban on Muslims “disqualifies” him to be president, a major US paper ran a photo of Trump on its cover with the headline “The New Furor,” The Washington Post ran a political cartoon in which The Donald refaced the Statue of Liberty to look like Hitler, and JK Rowling of “Harry Potter” fame dubbed him a worse villain than He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
Philadelphia Daily News front page: pic.twitter.com/REJhtRKnTU
— Dan Froomkin (@froomkin) December 8, 2015
How horrible. Voldemort was nowhere near as bad. https://t.co/hFO0XmOpPH — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 8, 2015
And on it and on it went.
Trump did not back away from his comments in several television appearances on Tuesday. In an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, Trump defended his proposal by invoking Franklin D. Roosevelt’s policies during World War II when American citizens were rounded up by the thousands.
“Something has to be done,” he said.
“You will have many more World Trade Centers—it will only get worse,” he warned.
Asked if he supported internment camps, Trump said “no,” but he continued to compare himself to FDR.
“No, because what I’m doing is no different than what FDR [did]. FDR’s solution for Germans, Italians, Japanese many years ago—this is a president who was highly respected by all, he did the same thing.” Trump was referring to Roosevelt’s executive order, which allowed for the internment of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans and the arrests—and internment—of thousands of Italians and Germans.
Trump’s remarks came about a week after a radicalized husband and wife duo shot and killed 14 people in San Bernardino in Southern California. It was the largest terror attack in the US since Sept. 11.
The shooting inspired heated debates about guns and terror, but the latter has dominated the discourse amid fear that the so-called Islamic State is inspiring people at home to conduct attacks on their behalf but without logistic or financial support.
Also on Monday, a Monmouth University Poll found Trump trailing Ted Cruz in a survey of likely Republican caucus goers. Unlike others in the GOP field, Cruz has not ripped Trump for his proposed ban. In recent days Cruz has been more hawkish in his statements about terror. On Twitter, Cruz promised, if elected, to “direct the Department of Defense to destroy ISIS.” In a public appearance in Iowa he wondered out loud: “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.” The two GOP hopefuls are essentially battling for the same core of supporters.
But the response from Trump’s other opponents was swift.
Even former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who weeks earlier called for a religious test of Syrian refugees that would weed out Muslims so only Christians would be allowed entry into the US, said Trump is “unhinged.”
Donald Trump is unhinged. His “policy” proposals are not serious.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) December 7, 2015
I disagree with Donald Trump’s latest proposal. His habit of making offensive and outlandish statements will not bring Americans together. — Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) December 8, 2015
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), whose unofficial job requirement includes defending his party’s GOP brand, also joined the chorus of people repudiating Trump.
“Normally I don’t comment on what’s going on in the presidential election—I will take an exception today,” he said. “This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for, and more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for. Not only are there many Muslims serving in our armed forces—dying for this country—there are Muslims serving right here in the House, working everyday to uphold and defend the Constitution.”
Freedom of religion is a fundamental constitutional principle—a founding principle—of this country. https://t.co/lfJSMA2TAX
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) December 8, 2015
In the wake of the coordinated attacks in Paris that killed 130 on Nov. 13 and the recent San Bernardino shootings, Muslim leaders here have said that spreading Islamophobia and making anti-Islam comments do nothing but incite fear of reprisal in Muslim communities while also providing terror groups with more material to use as propaganda to bolster their ranks.
President Obama in his Oval Office speech to the nation Sunday urged Americans not to “turn against one another.”
Yet the very opposite has happened. And once again Muslims have been thrust into the national spotlight while Republican presidential hopefuls pander for votes.
(Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)