The racism and bigotry ginned up by Donald Trump appears to have recently inspired not only more hate crimes but shockingly even a possible terrorist attack on U.S. soil by his fans. On Friday, three Kansas men who were allegedly part of a militia known as “The Crusaders” (as in Christian Crusaders) were arrested by the FBI for allegedly plotting to slaughter Muslim Somali immigrants in Garden City, Kansas. Their apparent goal was to kill these Muslims—even the children, as they allegedly boasted—using explosives and guns in the hopes of inspiring more people to “want this country back.” (If you’re wondering why this terror plot isn’t getting national headlines the answer is simple: The alleged terrorists weren’t Muslim.)
At least of one of three men allegedly involved in this terror plot, Patrick Stein, was a self-professed “big” Trump fan. Stein even allegedly quoted Trump’s words about dipping bullets in pig’s blood before killing the Muslims, which comes from a debunked story Trump has told countless times on the campaign trail of General Pershing fighting Muslims in the Philippines.
If that wasn’t disturbing enough, on Friday a Muslim community center in Bayonne, New Jersey, was defaced with the words “Donald Trump” and vile graffiti like “Fuck Allah” and “Fuck Arabs.” (The Muslim community center is actually a testament to interfaith alliances in New Jersey, as it operates in the basement of a Catholic elementary school, but that didn’t matter to this apparent Trump supporter.)
And then on Saturday, a mosque in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was defaced with the word “Trump” spray-painted in big letters. It appears that the word “Trump” is becoming a modern day swastika.
To say that Muslim Americans during this campaign cycle feel like they are under siege is an understatement. I was at a Muslim American event in Florida on Saturday where an immigrant woman explained to me that her family had fled their home country because of people like Trump who had spewed intolerance and hate. She asked emotionally, “If Trump makes that happen here, what country do we go to then?”
And many Muslim parents have shared that they have never been more fearful for their children’s safety than in today’s climate. What has this country come to that parents are actually afraid their kids may be beaten up or worse simply of because of their faith? I want to tell them it’s all going to be OK, but I candidly find it harder to do so as of late.
But the anti-Muslim hate Trump has stoked doesn’t just affect Muslims but also extends to people who some think might be Muslim. We saw that with Peter Jacob, a 31 year-old first-time political candidate seeking to make history by becoming the first Indian American ever elected to the U.S. Congress from New Jersey. Jacob’s house was spray painted with swastikas—not once but twice in the past 10 days.
Jacob is Christian, but since he’s brown-skinned and sports a beard, some believe he’s a Muslim. Appearing on my SiriusXM radio show last Thursday, Jacob, who immigrated as a child from India to America, said he had never encountered such hate directed against him before.
But then came Trump. As Jacob remarked, “The hateful rhetoric we hear on national level is now trickling down to the local level.”
He couldn’t be more correct. A local right-wing New Jersey blog, Save Jersey.com, ran two articles attacking Jacob using not only dangerous language suggesting he supports terrorism as “America’s just deserts” but also irresponsibly featuring a picture of Jacob next to the image of Orlando Pulse nightclub terrorist Omar Mateen.
But here’s the worst part. Jacob’s Trump-supporting opponent, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), recently shared the incendiary article featuring images of Jacob pictured next to the Orlando terrorist on his campaign’s social media page. “Lance not only posted the article, he paid to have it sponsored on Facebook so it could have greater reach,” explained Jacob. And then came the swastika attacks.
While the assailant in Jacob’s case is still unknown, in recent weeks self-professed Trump supporters have been arrested for hate crimes against Muslims. Last month in New York City, a Trump supporter attacked two women wearing hijabs who were pushing a baby stroller. The attacker, who was arrested and charged with a hate crime, yelled at the Muslim women, “Get the fuck out of America, bitches!”
And another Trump supporter was arrested in September after he allegedly firebombed a mosque in Orlando, Florida. He was charged with a hate crime for allegedly intentionally starting the fire that engulfed a large part of the mosque.
Disturbingly, a report released in September noted that attacks on Muslims—ranging from murders to physical attacks to threats to desecration of mosques—are now at level higher than in the months after 9/11. And as numerous experts, including the report’s author, Brian Levin, noted, hateful rhetoric by politicians “is one of the significant variables that can contribute to hate crimes.”
Trump is right about one thing: America’s greatness is on decline as of late. But it’s Trump who is causing that. The remedy to heal our nation is not Trump as president, as he would tell you. Rather it’s to defeat Trump in an overwhelming landslide to send a message to Trump and his deplorables that their hate and bigotry has no place in America.