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“This Joke’s Not Funny Anymore”: Donald Trump’s Talk Of Registering Muslims And Closing Mosques Is Deeply Un-American

Donald Trump is no longer funny.

For the last several months, the former reality TV star has provided comic relief as the front-runner in the Republican presidential field – especially if, like me, you have remained in the camp that believes that Trump is not going to be the GOP nominee, let alone president of the United States. Granted, his antics have been juvenile, offensive and reflected an unappealing seam in the national character, but his focus on dumb insults and general oafishness kept Trump’s pronouncements for the most part in the realm of clumsy diversion. As The New Yorker’s John Cassidy wrote yesterday, “Since so much of what Trump says is hot air, it’s tempting to dismiss all of it as mere rabble-rousing or showboating.”

But things have changed.

Trump’s rhetoric since last week’s Paris attacks has taken a dark turn and, as Greg Sargent writes in The Washington Post today, it’s spiraling downward: “[I]n the endless Trumpathon that the GOP primaries have become, every idea, no matter how startling at first hearing, must always be superseded, or Trumped, by a new, yuuuger idea.” So in a matter of days he went from entertaining the idea of shutting down houses of worship to saying that we have “absolutely no choice” but to do so; he doesn’t dismiss appalling notions like forcing certain religious groups to register or carry special religiously based identification. The fact that the religion in question is Islam is beside the point – this sort of targeting and discrimination is fundamentally un-American as is his apparent belief in “security” uber alles. (“Some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” he told Yahoo News this week – and surely the trains will run on time as well.)

Trump told Yahoo News that “certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy.” As my colleague Emily Arrowood noted this morning: “It can’t happen here used to be a warning that it really can if we’re not careful – not a campaign promise that it will.”

And Cassidy again:

Trump must know that his proposals don’t make sense, but he’s pushing on regardless. He has moved from rabble-rousing to demagoguery, or something even uglier. And this time, sadly, we have no option but to take him seriously.

I am deeply uncomfortable with comparisons to the Nazis. They are thrown around too lightly and inherently cheapen the sheer scope of the evil acts committed by Hitler and his henchmen. But that doesn’t give lesser nods to fascism a pass until they rise to Holocaust levels; and this talk of religious registration and identification flirts with fascism in a way that should be deeply upsetting to Americans of all political stripes.

Trump should explain himself – let him hoist himself on his own petard. And every other candidate in the race should be put on the record as to whether they’re with the GOP’s unhinged front-runner or with basic American values of liberty and justice for all.

 

By: Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion, U. S. News and World Report, November 20, 2015

November 21, 2015 Posted by | Discrimination, Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

   

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