Yesterday, Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump released a statement on his website (to which I'm not linking, because fuck him) reading in full:
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. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing "25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad" and 51% of those polled, "agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah." Shariah authorizes such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won't convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women.First of all, let's be clear that the statistics Trump is citing are from a thoroughly debunked poll conducted by the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a garbage group of Islamophobic fearmongerers founded by Frank Gaffney, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as "one of America's most notorious Islamophobes."
Mr. Trump stated, "Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life. If I win the election for President, we are going to Make America Great Again."
Secondly, Trump's call for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" is vile bigotry on its face, and ridiculous as a policy proposal, given that he and his surrogates are defending it by arguing it's only a temporary policy, until, per Trump, "our country's representatives can figure out what is going on," a meaningless description of an endpoint making zero sense.
In the history of electoral politics in the US, there has been a lot of rank prejudice dressed up in the costume of serious policy, but Trump's Islamophobia doesn't even rise to that level. Trump's "proposal," such as it is, has all the sophistication of a suggestion from a Drunk Uncle monologue.
Which is notable because it is his incredible and uncredible ranting, not disguised as serious policy, that appeals to a sizable portion of the conservative base and has garnered him the reputation as a straight-shooter, a truth-teller, the vessel through which "what everyone is thinking" is being delivered to the national stage.
The other Republican contenders have largely remained silent in response to this contemptible display of hatred, because of course they have. They know Islamophobia is popular with the people whose votes they want.
But, this morning, on CNN, Senator Lindsey Graham was blunt: "You know how you make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell."
Graham, who is an anti-choice, Social Darwinist nightmare, looks like a fucking hero compared to his fellow candidate Donald Trump.
But Trump cannot be shamed. Pressed to answer whether he would have supported the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, one of the greatest stains in this nation's history, he shrugged: "I would have had to be there at the time to tell you, to give you a proper answer. I certainly hate the concept of it. But I would have had to be there at the time to give you a proper answer."
We know, however, how Donald Trump is behaving in this moment, this current moment of nationalistic alarmism, othering, scapegoating, fearmongering, and racism. He is leading the charge in perpetuating ignorance, resentment, fear, and hatred.
And he couches his reactionary swill in a claim of courage, of refusing to succumb like a weakling to the scourge of political correctness, but these are not the actions of a person who is brave. These are the actions of a person who is deeply fearful. These are the words of a man conceding to terrorists, conceding that they have already defeated his limited resolve and undetectable decency.