Donald Trump's presidential campaign has featured an unending stream of thoughtless and offensive statements, but his latest comments have left many Americans stunned. On December 7th, Trump spoke at a Pearl Harbor Day Rally at the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. (Hat tip to NPR.) His shocking call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. have made his xenophobia impossible to ignore.
The event began with security escorting an anti-Trump protester off the premises as Trump implored them to "Treat her nicely" and the crowd chanted "Trump! Trump! Trump!"
"What a weak voice!" Trump later said about the protester.
Over the course of forty minutes, Trump rambled about political correctness, terrorism, ISIS, the media, and of course, himself. He mocked the media as dishonest "scum", insisting that the media "wants to surrender our constitution and our constitutional rights". At the 7:10 mark, he played to his audience's fear of immigrants by claiming that the U.S. has "no idea what's going on".
"We're out of control. We have no idea who's coming into our country. We have no idea if they love us or if they hate us. We have no idea if they want to bomb us. We have no idea what's going on."At the 16:37 mark, Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. The length of the proposed ban, as well as whether the ban would include both citizens and foreigners, was unclear.
"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 the hell is going on. We have no choice."Appealing to listeners' fear of terrorism, Trump warned at the 19:31 mark that the U.S. would experience "more World Trade Centers" until it took the threat of Islamic extremism seriously.
"We can't live like this. It's going to get worse and worse. You're going to have more World Trade Centers. It's going to get worse and worse, folks. We can be politically correct and we can be stupid, but it's going to get worse and worse. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victim of horrendous attacks by people who believe only in jihad."Trump's previous statements on immigrants, including his proposed immigration policy and his assumptions about immigrants and crime, have drawn accusations of racism. His refusal to outright oppose the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, as reported in Time, has only strengthened his public image as a xenophobe. Now, his calls for banning Muslims and implementing a database for Muslims in the U.S. have driven commentators to brand him a fascist. They're not wrong.
Is Trump merely pandering to a fearful audience? After all, he counts Muslims among his international business associates, according to the Daily Beast, so surely he understands that not all Muslims are dangerous. Whether Trump's rhetoric is sincere or not, I think that his words are too dangerous to shrug off as shallow pandering.
Trump is trying to win power by nurturing the fear, hatred, and ignorance of his supporters. Americans must not ignore his scapegoating of Muslims and Mexicans, his appeals to fear in the wake of terrorist attacks, and his calls for grossly unethical policies. Trump is calling for disturbing measures, and with the stakes so high, we must take him at his word.
America, pay attention.