Donald Trump’s campaign for president will likely be studied for years, and not just by political scientists but also by psychologists. There’s a weird kind of upside to all this madness, more on which later. But this is a guy who despicably demonized Latinos and then claimed “Hispanics love me!” The reality, of course, is that 81 percent of Hispanics view The Donald in a very negative light.
And now just days after Trump proposed banning all Muslim immigration from the United States, he boasted to CNN’s Don Lemon, “I’m doing good for the Muslims.” Trump even bragged that his Muslim friends have told him, “Donald, you brought something up to the fore that is so brilliant and so fantastic.”
Trump is giving us a master class on cognitive dissonance. In fact, Trump may inspire a new psychological condition named after him.
Trump is probably correct, though, that there are Muslims who love him. As I wrote earlier this week, while Trump has demonized Muslims in the United States to attract votes, he has praised Muslims in the Middle East to attract their money. Trump stands to make big bucks from his “yuge” development deal in Dubai that features a golf course and mansions that bear his name.
Interestingly, in that article I discussed in detail and linked to a YouTube video of Trump palling around with his Muslim business partner Hussain Sajwani in Dubai. You could see Trump laughing it up with his Muslim BFFs, sharing a golf cart, etc. That video had been on YouTube since May 2014. But within a day of my article being published, the video was mysteriously marked “private” and hidden from the public.
I reached out to the Trump campaign to see if they had pressured people to take the video down, but no response. Embedded below is the video that some people didn’t want you to see:
In any event, in the midst of this anti-Muslim Trump-a-thon, a silver lining has emerged. In fact, Trump has accomplished something that I thought was impossible: He has made Republicans stand up for Muslims.
After all this is the same GOP that remained silent as Republican elected officials like Oklahoma State Rep. John Bennett called Muslims a “cancer” that must be cut of America, and when people like U.S. Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) declared that Islam is not a religion and hence doesn’t deserve First Amendment protection—among other things.
Indeed, the demonization of Muslims by the GOP had spiked last year to the point that in January I wrote an article predicting that Muslims would become the GOP’s target of choice, replacing the LGBT community if marriage equality was ruled the law of the land by the Supreme Court. That has turned out to be accurate.
But Trump has somehow awoken the GOP leaders from their slumber to speak out against anti-Muslim bigotry. And not just a few, I’m talking everyone from his fellow GOP candidates to House Speaker Paul Ryan to RNC Chair Reince Priebus. Even Dick Cheney, yes that one, said Trump’s proposal “goes against everything we stand for and believe in.”
While I have harshly criticized the GOP leadership for their silence in the past, I must applaud them now. But as you would expect there is a big but. First, if the GOP leadership had shown the slightest moral courage in the past to stand up to the anti-Muslim hate, Trump would likely have less of a base to work with in the Republican Party who truly hate Muslims.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that thanks to the animals in ISIS, al Qaeda, etc., people have concerns about Muslims. But certain Republicans have ginned up those fears while the GOP leadership remained silent, allowing anti-Muslim hate to take root and grow.
That’s why it’s not surprising that Republicans hold the most negative views of Muslims in the nation. For example, a poll released Wednesday found that 65 percent of likely GOP primary voters support Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims. In contrast, 53 percent of all voters oppose it, as do 75 percent of Democrats.
And on the broader issue of Muslims in America, only 49 percent of Republicans think that Islam should even be legal. Even more alarming is that in places like North Carolina, 40 percent of Republicans favor criminalizing Islam, meaning American Muslims would be arrested for simply practicing their faith. So much for religious liberty.
But these negative views of Muslims by the GOP didn’t happen in the last few months. A 2012 poll found that 57 percent of Republicans held a negative view of Islam compared to only 29 percent of Democrats. Republicans have been marinating in a broth of anti-Muslim hate since then that has become increasingly toxic, in part, because the GOP leaders refused to speak out forcefully.
So yes, there’s a silver lining to Trump’s anti-Muslim bashing. Without GOP leaders coming out so forcefully against Trump’s Muslim immigration ban, the support among the Republican voters for his proposal may have been even higher. Plus, who knows what Trump would have proposed next concerning Muslims if there were no outcry? Restrictions on Muslim-American rights to pray, or on freedom of expression? Internment camps? Deportation? Perhaps the Republicans’ loud condemnation has at least prevented Trump from offering those proposals—at least for now.
The question, however, is did the GOP leaders wait too long to counter the anti-Muslim sentiment? Has it metastasized to the point where their words are only a speed bump on the way to the GOP truly becoming an anti-Muslim hate group? We will all know the answer when the GOP voters pick their nominee for 2016. The nation is watching. What path will the GOP take?