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How Donald Trump became America’s hate-monger

Donald Trump has brought xenophobia into the mainstream in the United States. Getting rid of it may not be easy.


 
Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, DC, December 3, 2015. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, DC, December 3, 2015. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

When the hawkish former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney becomes a voice of moderation, America has reached an odd and disturbed place. “Well, I think this whole notion that somehow we can just say ‘no more Muslims,’ just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in,” he said on conservative radio. Hours earlier, Donald Trump called for a full closing of the border to Muslims, his latest bit of demagoguery in a presidential campaign fuelled by demagoguery.

For those who wonder why President Barack Obama devoted only 132 words of his Oval Office address to his Sisyphean mission on gun control, consider the urgent and rising need for words (333) to quell the latest surge of paranoia about U.S. Muslims. The suspicions never really died after 9/11, hit another high with the “Ground Zero mosque” panic of 2010, and have continually spiked in the last 18 months as Islamic State beheaded Americans, Paris was attacked and a radicalized California couple unleashed a massacre this month at an office party.

Trump may have the most prominent bullhorn, but he’s tapping into a rich vein of xenophobia some commentators shamelessly exploit because it sells.

Related: We got our social-media campaign—in the form of Trump

Fifty-six per cent of Americans find the values of Islam at odds with the American way of life, according to a survey released last month by the Public Religion Research Institute; the figure is 73 per cent among white evangelicals, and 77 per cent among Trump supporters. In a widely shared TV screed aired last weekend, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro said Americans should close the borders—”even Mexico and Canada, pure and simple”—and don’t fear being called Islamophobic, because that’s “part of the Islamic terrorist plan.” Pirro, who is of Lebanese descent, concluded: “Ladies and gentlemen, the jackals are at the door.”

In 2001, George W. Bush and Cheney took care to draw distinctions between declaring war on overseas radicals and a war against a whole race or religion. “This is by no means a war against Islam,” Cheney said five days after the World Trade Centre attacks. Like Obama, he also stressed that the violent jihadism was a “perversion” of the Muslim faith. Fourteen years later, some top Republicans vying for base support in next year’s presidential primaries see leverage, rather than hazard, in conflating the threat of terrorism and the threat of “them.” Whether or not Trump capitalizes long-term from his blatantly unconstitutional views, he appears to have brought the discourse of hatred into the mainstream.

Related: Why Donald Trump can’t fight the arc of history

Comparisons between Trump and Hitler have also become popular fodder. But there is a more recent, accurate one. The day before Trump went ballistic, the anti-immigrant National Front trumped major parties in several French regional elections, the latest success for far-right factions throughout Europe. Should Trump actually take the party nomination, wrote Ben Domenech in The Federalist, “it would set America’s political path on a direction along the lines of what we have seen in democracies in Europe.”

Even if he loses, his views could thrive well beyond Trump’s poll position.


 

How Donald Trump became America’s hate-monger

  1. People should not forget that Trump has a lot of wealthy Jews that are advising him and backing him up behind the scenes……so calling him this fascist stuff is not totally true……

    • Although I was not calling Trump a fascist in this case, ideology and racism can be espoused by anyone of any ethnicity. A Jewish person can be fascist just as anyone else can. I say this as a Jew myself.

  2. The real estate mogul and reality TV star now makes
    most of his money from licensing his name on golf
    courses, luxury developments and retail goods, rather
    than owning buildings. Trump has destroyed his brand
    name, so say bye, bye to this substantial income stream.

  3. When All Good Things Happened, at least publicly to me, I asked about their religion. Because of other people, and my favourite IME video…and they answered: no one is worthless.
    They’ve the three best religions are Presbyterianism, Anglicanism, and any religion which doesn’t take itself too seriously.
    The first, because its founder wasn’t didn’t give a **** much about religion. Anglicanism is the only country that avoided the Catholic Church. Where I see religious people being wrong is assuming some sort fixed judgment of a past person, based on inferior evidence, is enough to decide how to get into a happy afterlife and avoid a tortuous one. As our evidence and knowledge improved, I’d guess so does our uncertain guess about how to get in, if powerful beings created one. To me it looks like utilitarianism is the way to go. Live a good life as you can. They implied Knox was okay. The Catholic Church’s liking of Aristotle (an okay Philosopher as paradoxically said to use empiricism sometimes) was key. A religion based on Democritus would be a Utopia world on Earth already. Jesus seems a bit weak on engineering and WMD game theory. You can’t love people that make AI.

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