“The great masses will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one”—Adolph Hitler.
In this presidential campaign season, truth has become the main casualty. The Donald in particular has shown a propensity for making assertions with blatant disregard for the facts to suit his agenda.
Realizing that he has been given a free pass by the public and the media and therefore getting away with distorting the truth and never held to account, he has continued to feed the American electorate half-truths, distortions and at times outright fabrication of the facts. He is not one to allow truth to get in the way of his incendiary bombast to score points with and against a certain segment of the American populace. Donald Trump has consistently made outrageous remarks that could easily be categorized as hate speeches.
A self-absorbed businessman turned politician who has elevated narcissism to new heights is now seeking the highest office in the land by exploiting fear and if need be manufacturing his own version of recent history. He asserts that he “watched thousands and thousands of people on rooftops” in New Jersey cheering as the Twin Towers came tumbling down on 9/11. Fellow GOP candidate Ben Carson was quick to agree with him but later back-tracked realizing he was misinformed.
The story has been discounted by New Jersey State law enforcement officials as well as by the media. The facts however are of little consequence to Trump and he continues to persist in the propagation of the lie.
He has ridiculed, disparaged and offended African Americans, Muslim Americans, women, Mexicans, and the disabled, and the list goes on.
A Black protester at his campaign rally was attacked by his supporters and was thrown out, the same way Jorge Ramos of Univision was removed from the press event for asking questions about his controversial stand on immigration. “Go back to Univision” he said. The Black protester “should have been roughed up” he told his audience.
Donald Trump’s outrageous behavior is not new.
Some of us recall 1989 when a White jogger in Central Park was viciously attacked and raped. She was one of thousands of crime victims in New York City that year. Taking a page out of Captain Louis Renault’s MO in the movie Casablanca, the New York Police Department (NYPD) rounded up the “usual suspects” which in this case were five teenagers of color ages 14 to 16.
Contrary to custom, the names of these juveniles were released to the media. Politicians including then mayor Ed Koch called them “animals.” Donald Trump took out a full page ad in all the New York newspapers calling for their execution –“Bring Back the Death Penalty” the ad screamed. On that same day a Black woman who was raped and thrown down a building in Bed-Stuy barely registered in the New York media.
The five juveniles were accused, charged, and convicted without supporting evidence by a racist criminal justice system. They went on to serve a total of 40 years between them despite the fact that the real perpetrator, Matias Reyes told anyone who would listen that he was responsible for the crime.
New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau finally in 2002 announced that DNA matching Reyes’s specimen was found the victim. The Five however were not released until 10 years later despite evidence of their innocence.
Mayor Bill De Blasio’s administration has since settled a law suit by the five. Trump who still cannot accept their innocence, even after the exoneration of the wrongly accused juveniles –now middle aged men– calls the settlement a “disgrace.” He would rather stick with the lie of their guilt that he so vociferously promoted at the time.
This is the man who wants to be president of the United States.
In this environment of heightened anxiety brought about by the brutality of acts of terrorism here and abroad, scapegoating and fear-mongering by politicians has become the order of the day and their hateful messages are resonating in some segments of our society. The convenient targets of the moment are American Muslims.
Attacks on Muslim houses of worship and on Muslim Americans especially women easily identified by their distinctive head scarf, have dramatically increased since the Paris terrorist attack. Mr. Trump and other Republican candidates have called for registering and creating a database of American Muslims, thus fanning the flames of Islamophobia.
This toxic mix of racism, misogyny, Islamophobia and xenophobia as exemplified by the vile rhetoric of Donald Trump is eerily reminiscent of the 1930s Germany that targeted the Jews for the country’s ills and eventually led to the rise of the Nazi regime.
It would be useful to revisit the words of the prominent Protestant pastor, Martin Niemoller, who spent the last few years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. He warned:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Some may find Donald Trump’s clownish antics entertaining, not to be taken seriously, dismissible. The fact is he is giving expression to the beliefs, fear and anxiety of some 30% of the Republicans who stick by him no matter how offensive his stand on issues may be.
It is out of similar core supporters within his party that Benito Mussolini in Italy formed his Camicie Nere –Black Shirts– later emulated in Germany by the Brown Shirts.
Trump’s latest vituperation is his call for banning Muslim immigrants from the U.S. and even barring those who are American citizens from returning.
This time he has essentially declared war on the U.S. Constitution. We may be sleepwalking into Fascism in the US. It will not be an America that anyone of us would want to be associated with.
It is time for all truly patriotic Americans, defenders of the Constitution, to band together and raise our collective voice in resistance to the hatemongering, racist taunting and Muslim bashing.
Enough is enough!