Donald Trump’s “empty apology” tour pleading for forgiveness from the minority groups he demonized during this campaign made a new stop Tuesday night. This time he attempted to woo Latino voters by appearing on Sean Hannity’s Fox News “immigration special” to announce he was open to “softening” his plan to deport all 11-plus million undocumented immigrants. Shockingly, Trump even stated that some of the undocumented immigrants are “great people.” (Of course, he noted some were “really horrible.”)
This follows Trump’s attempt to gain support with the African-American community over the last few nights with his bizarrely worded plea: “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs.” He added, “What the hell do you have to lose?”
After hearing that speech, I’m really praying Trump doesn’t try to reach out TO Muslim Americans. I can just picture him delivering an equally bigoted sales pitch to my community: “Muslims, why not vote for me?! After all, I’m practically Muslim: I don’t drink alcohol and I’ve had three wives. Plus, I love the hummus. And I understand your community. I have had many conversations with people driving my taxicabs and at the deli. Add to that we share another common trait: We both treat women really badly—you cover them up and I call them ‘dogs’ and ‘pigs.’ So why the hell not vote for me!”
But the real reason Trump shouldn’t reach out to the Muslim community—even though Muslims could play a deciding role in certain key swing states like Florida, Ohio, and Michigan—is that there’s nothing he can say to persuade us to support him after all the hate he has sent our way.
Now to be clear, the Muslim-American community is not monolithic. There are some Muslims supporting Trump. In fact, I debated the head of “Muslims for Trump”—an organization I believe boasts a membership of one—on CNN and MSNBC. And there are some Muslims who have problems with Hillary Clinton for various reasons, primarily tied to her hawkish views. But few Muslims I know are supporting Trump—and I know a lot of Muslims.
While there’s no recent polling of Muslim-American voters, I’d predict that Trump’s support in our community is in the single digits—the same support Trump is now seeing from the African-American community. (Keep in mind that African Americans make up about a third of the Muslim community in the United States.)
I doubt Trump is surprised or frankly cares that Muslims are overwhelmingly opposed to him. If he did, he wouldn’t have made demonizing Muslims a staple of his campaign from the start.
Even before Trump’s infamous call in December for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” he had been stoking hate versus our community. It first began when Trump fabricated a claim that “thousands” of Muslims cheered in New Jersey on 9/11—a tale so tall that even cheerleader in chief Rudy Giuliani conceded it was not accurate.
From there Trump said he was open to special ID cards and a database to register all Muslims in America. He has called for profiling of Muslim Americans. And just a few days ago on Fox News, Trump declared that Muslim Americans know about terrorists but are not speaking out, adding, “if they’re not going to help us, they’re to blame also.”
The truth—something Trump ignores when demonizing minority groups—is that Muslim Americans have been working closely with law enforcement to prevent terror attacks. We all recall that the FBI had investigated the Orlando gunman before his attack. Want to guess who had tipped off the FBI about him that triggered that investigation? A Muslim-American member of the community concerned by his alarming rhetoric.
Here’s the thing that Trump doesn’t get about minorities, be they African American, Latino, Muslim, LGBT, Jewish, LGBT, you name it: If you pivot on a policy issue that hurts our community, in time we might forgive you. But when you intentionally demonize us for political gain, we will never, ever forget that.
Does Trump really believe that Latinos—whom he has demonized from Day 1 of his campaign—will suddenly support him because he met briefly with a few Latino leaders or now says that he’s open to “softening” his deportation plan? That a few speeches to white audiences about how much he cares for African Americans will erase memories of him defending his supporters beating up black protesters? Or his racist birther campaign against Preisdent Obama? And on and on and on.
As we minorities know, Trump wouldn’t be reaching out to any of us if he were winning in the polls. Trump does not truly “regret” his words demonizing our respective communities. Trump’s only regret is that there are not enough white supremacists to elect him president.
So Trump, don’t waste your time reaching out to Muslim Americans. We don’t want a seat on the Trump train. We would rather walk than share a ride with the bigots sitting on it.