By Arab News
By Linda S. Heard
Mexicans are drug traffickers and rapists. The physically disabled are figures of fun. Women are objectified for their looks. African Americans can be trusted with money; that job goes to short guys wearing yamulkas. Muslim-Americans should be registered on a database or possibly placed in internment camps as Japanese-Americans were in WW2. Mosques must be shut down. Muslim visitors banned from entry into the United States. Suspects open to being water-boarded.
If the person who spouted all this racist and bigoted tripe happened to be European, he’d likely be looking at the inside of a courtroom for promoting religious and racial hatred, not touting for the most important job in the land.
Just a few short months ago, Donald Trump was just a figure of fun — a larger than life personality adding excitement to the race. He was written-off by the media as a no-hoper. But that was then. Now he’s Teflon man, confident enough to cheer on a gang of his supporters who roughed up a heckler from Black Lives Matter and mimic a disabled reporter.
He has broken all norms, but his poll numbers surge ahead regardless. His anti-Muslim rhetoric, far from eliciting outrage, bumped him up to 35 percent points in polls of Republican voters. Moreover, a mere 29 percent of Republicans polled found his remarks about Muslims offensive. Six out of 10 believe he is likeable.
This is truly scary stuff! Imagine this self-obsessed, narcissist as America’s commander-in-chief empowered to launch wars with the nuclear button never far from his hand. Can’t happen? Don’t be so sure. He is artfully tapping into America’s concerns and fears, the trademark of fascists.
Never mind that more Americans are killed by falling furniture annually than by terrorists, he’s following on the footsteps of McCarthy who whipped up “Reds under the bed” anti-Communist hysteria, except his target are the world’s 1.7 billion Muslims, who are, by far, terrorism’s greatest victims.
Right now, almost two-thirds of Americans nationwide see the prospect of a President Trump as frightening. That’s reassuring, but, if in the months ahead there are more terrorist attacks on American soil, which Trump will surely exploit, that percentage could diminish. Fear, real or imagined, initiates people’s survival instincts overriding their common decency and human values.
Orwell’s masterpiece “Nineteen eighty-four” illustrates how the mob mind can be manipulated by the politics of hate and fear. The rulers of imaginary Oceania control their human subjects with such slogans as “War is peace,” “Freedom is slavery” and “ignorance is strength.” Big Brother indoctrinated the crowds by promoting love of tribe and people’s visceral fear of the other and death.
I’m not shocked that his message of making America Great resonates with millions of less-educated Americans and white supremacists, but I am surprised at the Republican Party’s head honchos for not kicking him out, even if he is threatening to go it alone if he’s not treated right. As responsible lawmakers and politicians, they are duty-bound to put country before partisanship. Otherwise, the executive branch should find a mechanism whereby he can be legally excluded from running as someone who shames not only his party but also his nation’s much-touted values.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was right to call him “a disgrace to his country.” The billionaire Emirati businessman and philanthropist, Khalaf Al-Habtoor, was right to say, “If he turned up at my office I wouldn’t let him in.” Sen. Lindsey Graham was right to urge his party to tell Trump “to go to hell.” The more than half-a-million Britons who signed a petition calling for Trump to be barred from the UK should be respected for doing what’s right.
The international community, in particular the political and religious leaders of the Muslim world, should loud their voices to tell the powers that be within the US that such slander against Muslims and certain races from a presidential candidate is not only unacceptable but there will be a price to pay in terms of investment, trade and diplomatic relations.
“Never again” said the free world in response to the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany. Now the world must prove those words were meant before things get out of control. Americans never cease asking Muslims to come out against terrorism. Now it’s time for Americans to come out against Trump.