As the Republicans scramble to figure out how to distance themselves from Donald Trump’s inflammatory remarks while still capitalizing on his racist agenda, the White House sent a clear message on Tuesday that Trump’s demonic Islamophobia utterly “disqualifies” him, and anyone else who would support him, from leading the country.
On Monday, the Republican frontrunner made perhaps the most disgusting of a long string of abhorrent comments when he proposed banning any Muslim from entering the country until politicians “figure out what the hell is going on.” His sophisticated proposal appears to revolve around TSA agents asking people at the airport if they were Muslim, and turning them away if they say yes. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest denounced Trump’s stance in a statement made on Tuesday, saying that such views make Trump clearly unfit to be president.
“What he said is disqualifying. And any Republican who’s too fearful of the Republican base to admit it has no business serving as president either… The question now is about the rest of the Republican Party and whether or not they’re going to be dragged into the dust-bin of history with him.”
All Republican candidates have pledged to support the eventual winner of the Republican primary election, which means that they have very possibly pledged to support Trump. Most of the other Republican candidates have enough sense to distance themselves from an increasingly volatile Trump, but Rand Paul and Ted Cruz somehow have the nerve to endorse Trump’s idea. “For Republican candidates for president to stand by their pledge to support Mr. Trump, that in and of itself is disqualifying,” said Earnest.
As one can see all too clearly from recent Islamophobic attacks, Trump’s hateful rhetoric has real social consequences. Just as he fails to distinguish Hispanic immigrants from rapists, he sees no difference between a Muslim tourist and a terrorist. It is essential for all political leaders to denounce such divisiveness and ignorance. However, Ted Cruz responded to Trump’s comments by saying: “I commend Donald Trump for standing up and focusing America’s attention on the need to secure our borders.” While a few Republican candidates post superficial statements of disagreement on social media, the Republican Party is already strategizing on how to ride the Trump “wave” of racist, xenophobic “populism,” as was revealed in a recently published GOP internal memo. This means that even if the Trump circus leaves town, the dangerous effect that he is having on the Republican base may not go away.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.