Donald Trump took his anti-Muslim jihad to a new, bone-chilling level on Wednesday night. That’s when he declared to CNN’s Anderson Cooper that “Islam hates us.” Trump is wrong, but let me blunt. I hate Trump. Not because he demonizes Muslims, but because he’s a threat to our nation’s soul.
If Trump truly thinks “Islam hates us,” then he should tell that to the families of Muslim Americans who have died for our country. I doubt Trump has the balls to tell the family of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who received the Purple Heart and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery after being killed in Iraq in 2004. And let’s see Trump tell that to the family of Corp. Kareem Khan, who also received the Purple Heart and is buried in Arlington after giving his life in 2007 in defense of our nation.
Does Trump even have the courage to tell the Muslims who have volunteered to serve our nation, including my cousin who served in the U.S. Marines, that they hate America? In fact, almost 6,000 Muslims are currently serving in our armed forces fighting to ensure that all Americans—not just ones of certain faiths—have the same rights.
Will Trump tell the Muslims serving in our Congress, Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, that they hate America? Will he say that to the thousands of Muslims serving as police officers, paramedics, judges, schoolteachers, and others in professions designed to help the people of our nation?
Nah, Trump won’t ever do that because bullies are cowards. But what Trump despicably did during his interview on CNN was to paint all Muslims as potential threats to our country. “It’s very hard to define” and “very hard to separate” the good from the bad Muslims, “because you don’t know who’s who,” Trump stated.
I want you to think about what Trump is saying here. The GOP frontrunner is telling Americans to fear every single Muslim because any one of them might be plotting to kill you and your family. If you believe Trump’s words, what’s the next likely step? Trump has already proposed policies to discriminate against Muslim Americans, which polls show his supporters overwhelmingly support. What could be in store next for American Muslims?
Maybe because I recently read an article saying that Trump, according to his ex-wife, kept by his bedside a book of Hitler’s speeches that the Fuhrer gave during his ascent to power, I couldn’t help but wonder, What did Jews living in Germany when Hitler first sought office think? Did they dismiss his extreme rhetoric as nothing more than political talk to get the support of people? Or were they frightened, like many Muslim Americans are today?
To be clear, I’m am in no way saying that if he became president, Trump would be like Hitler, seizing emergency powers and worse. But perhaps we need to pause as a nation when Anne Frank’s stepsister, Eva Schloss, an Auschwitz survivor, warned us in January that Trump “is acting like another Hitler by inciting racism.”
But Trump’s hate has not just been about Muslims. His campaign from Day One can best be best summed up as putting minorities back in their place. That’s why we have seen white supremacists flock to Trump’s side. For example, the vile white supremacist leader Jared Taylor, a man who publicly endorsed Trump and has made robocalls on Trump’s’ behalf, wrote a few months ago: “Donald Trump may be the last hope for a president who would be good for white people.”
And Trump has given these hatemongers exactly what they have been dreaming of for years. He has stirred up hate versus Latinos, implying that they were coming to rape your wives and daughters. He has defended his white supporters in November beating up a Black Lives Matter protester and calling the man a “monkey” and the n-word. And we just saw Trump refuse to denounce the support of former Klan leader David Duke.
But let’s return to Trump’s comment that Islam hates us. Are there a fraction of Muslims who hate our nation? No doubt. Is that because of Islam, a religion that came into being over a thousand years before America was founded? The counter-terrorism experts I have spoken to have made it clear that the anger directed against our nation is generally grounded in foreign policy grievances or personal issues such as wanting to join an organization that makes them feel a sense of self worth. But there are a fraction of radical religious leaders who will try to teach younger Muslims that somehow America is a religious-based enemy. We must be united to countering their hateful message, not divided along religious lines as ISIS hopes we become.
Perhaps Trump is simply making the remarks about Muslims now because the GOP race is tightening and he knows bashing Muslims plays well with the GOP base. Trump noted as much after Ben Carson stated in October that no Muslim should be president of the United States, and he got a big boost in the polls. Trump then remarked, Carson’s “been getting a lot of ink on the Muslims… I guess people look at that and they probably like it.” Within weeks Trump began first using Muslims as a scapegoat.
Or perhaps Trump’s info comes from Frank Gaffney, whose poll Trump read from on the campaign trail about alleged hatred of Muslims. Gaffney is a discredited figure whom the Southern Poverty Law Center recently listed as the leader of an Anti-Muslim group. And Gaffney has also been a supporter of the very same White Supremacy leader, Jared Taylor, who has been campaigning for Trump. As the SPLC notes, Gaffney invited Taylor on his radio show and has heaped praise upon his work that promotes “anti-Black and anti-Latino racists.”
No, Islam doesn’t hate America. But Trump clearly hates American values.