This piece is referencing Donald Trump, if it wasn’t specifically clear. Perhaps there are some number of people who are unfamiliar with some of the more recent statements of the Republican frontrunner, so if that’s the case, he said in no uncertain terms that Muslims, and Muslims alone, should be barred from entering the country. He said this in the context of a Muslim man being behind a mass shooting in California. I say this so that it’s noted that the statements weren’t just spouted in a vacuum (which wouldn’t necessarily be any better, but facts are facts).
It’s easy to disregard this statement as just another crazy thing to come out of Trump’s mouth, or simply another sack of Islamic bigotry to throw onto an already large heap. It’s easy to do that, and I’m sure a lot of people do (unless they’re Trump supporters and happen to agree with this madman), but I bring this up because I think there’s something uniquely wicked about these statements. This is something more than your run-of-the-mill xenophobia. The good news is that we may be able to throw it on that tiresome heap of bigotry because of the backlash against the presidential candidate, but in the meantime, there’s still a big problem.
Let’s be clear, first and foremost, that even run-of-the-mill Islamic bigotry is a poison on society. The only reason it’s slightly better than what Trump has been saying lately is because it’s so common that it tends to become white noise (I say this as a straight, white male, so I also say it not fully recognizing the harm that different forms of white noise can create, but I’m going to stand by my statement for the time being. Though I do also say it as an atheist, a minority group that is arguably more hated than Muslims, so I have some personal backing for preferring white noise. But I digress). Now that this throat clearing has been established, I can safely say that I cannot recall in my lifetime, nor in even in my reading, the last time that a candidate for the highest office in the land sought to undermine the plurality of the United States in such a flagrant way. Not only is this a nation largely of immigrants, but our constitution itself in its first amendment solidified religious freedom on behalf of all of its people. It’s embarrassing to spend any time explaining how such a policy doesn’t sit well with the purported hopes and plans of one Mr. Donald J. Trump, so I’ll put my trust in the readership that all know what I’m speaking of when I say that this man has no apparent understanding of our most basic constitutional rights.
It’s difficult to tell whether or not Trump is just saying things for cheap political points or if he genuinely believes the things that fall out of his food and spit hole. He certainly seems to operate most of the time as if he’s a sociopathic serial liar, but I could be wrong. As weird as it is to say, I hope that he’s just another sociopath. If that’s the case, at least we can all breathe a sigh of relief as while we realize that we’re likely not dealing with some sort of alternate repeat of the anti-Semitism of the 20th century, only being anti-Islam this time around. We know how to deal with sociopaths; typically we just buy cheap home goods or used cars from them, or otherwise just ignoring their word vomit about being able to see Russia from Alaska. But if he really means this stuff, if he genuinely thinks that the best course of action is to bar Muslims from entering the country, and to create a database for all the rest that already live here (this is another pearl he has recently cast before us all), then I contend that he’s much more dangerous than if he were simply a shameless opportunist.
People tend to follow sincerity. It’s attractive, after all. We feel like we can trust them. But if the sincere beliefs of the person are just terrible (and in this case, terrible and the antithesis of our greater aspirations as a nation), then those of us who haven’t bought into the bullshit should all be very worried. Trump was at one time a reality television clown who became popular for being a douchebag, so it was easy enough to brush him off as a sideshow freak in American political theater. But he’s become a serious contender for the office of the presidency, and the time for taking him lightly has passed. We can ignore well enough the crazy ramblings of a television host, but such things have no place in our highest offices, and we should be embarrassed to be embracing them from our leaders.