At Buzzfeed, Alicia Melville-Smith and David Mack have documented seven acts of of anti-Muslim vandalism and/or threats in the US just since the IS attacks in Paris. This list does not, of course, include the personal assaults and countless acts of microaggressions perpetrated against Muslims—or people wrongly perceived to be Muslim, like Sikhs—in the same period.
This violence and harassment does not exist in a vacuum. It exists in a climate of fearmongering, scapegoating, and horrendous othering, led by the presidential candidates in one of the two major political parties in the country.
[Video may autoplay at link] Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich, the moderate in the group, proposed "creating a new government agency to push Judeo-Christian values around the world."
Which is heinous, and yet is nonetheless one of the least offensive proposals to come out of Republican leaders, whose House caucus last night approved legislation, sure to be vetoed by President Obama if it even makes it through the Senate, "that would make it even more difficult for refugees from Syria and Iraq to enter the United States," despite the fact that Syrian refugees "tend to provide extensive documents involving their day-to-day lives. They often arrive with family histories, military records and other information that can be useful for American authorities investigating them."
[Video may autoplay at first link] On the even more extreme end of the spectrum, Donald Trump said he would "absolutely implement" a database tracking Muslims in the US, and even entertained a proposal to require Muslims to carry a special form of identification.
(Apart from the fact that this is cruel, othering, and profoundly hostile to the ideals of the pluralistic society the US professes to be, what the fuck purpose does Donald Trump et. al. even imagine this would serve? Any human being who commits criminal violence isn't a criminal until the day that they are. Tracking people isn't effective prevention, even if it weren't colossally indecent.)
Ben Carson just went right for the most appalling dehumanization, and compared Syrian refugees to rabid dogs:
"For instance, you know, if there is a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you're probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you're probably gonna put your children out of the way," Carson told reporters during a campaign stop in Alabama on Thursday. "Doesn't mean that you hate all dogs by any stretch of the imagination."I cannot say this any more plainly: Comparing human beings to rabid dogs, which are put down, is eliminationist rhetoric. There is a long history of comparing people to vermin, to insects, to other creatures we "get rid of," and it is rightly recognized as eliminationism. What Carson is saying here is no different.
"By the same token, we have to have in place screening mechanisms that allow us to determine who the mad dogs are, quite frankly," he continued, according to Politico. "Who are the people who wanna come in here and hurt us and wanna destroy us? Until we know how to do that, just like it would be foolish to put your child out in the neighborhood knowing that that was going on, it's foolish for us to accept people if we cannot have the appropriate type of screening."
This inflammatory rhetoric and legislative hostility is fostering a climate of hatred, intolerance, threats, and violence. It is irresponsible, it is gross, and it is harmful.
And it must stop.