Donald J. Trump, the loose cannon who would be president, hinted Monday that President Obama might be complicit in terror attacks by Islamic extremists, including Sunday’s bloodbath in Orlando, Fla. That accusation by innuendo marks a new and repugnant low for Trump, who along with his surrogates is engaged in a smear campaign reminiscent of the dark days of McCarthyism.
Trump — who made hay during Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign by pushing “birther” challenges to Obama’s citizenship — told television interviewers Monday that Obama may be willfully standing down in the face of terror plots by Islamic radicals, lending credence to a conspiracy theory pushed by folks who stubbornly cling to the fiction that the president is a Kenyan-born Muslim.
“Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” Trump said on Fox News. “And the something else in mind — you know, people can’t believe it. People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.”
What’s inconceivable is Trump suggesting Obama may be endangering the people he has sworn to protect based on nothing more than the chatter of political lunatics. This isn’t the first time Trump has used innuendo to introduce personal smears as though he’s a small-town gossip. You can almost hear him whisper, “I’m not saying this, but others are talking…” before channeling the kind of garbage that lives out on the political fringes.
Trump doubled down on his anti-Muslim hate-mongering in a speech in New Hampshire in which he warned that “radical Islam is coming” and pledged to ban immigration from areas of the world in which anti-U.S or anti-European terrorism may arise. Never mind that the shooter in Orlando was a native New Yorker. In Trump’s view, the government has no mechanism for keeping children of immigrants from radicalizing. So not only would he ban adherents of a major world religion for the acts of the few, he also indicts them for the imagined crimes of their unborn children. And he urged Muslim communities to “turn in the people who they know are bad – and they do know where they are,” implying Muslims are intentionally shielding terrorists.
We’ve said before that Trump’s shoot-from-the-lip persona makes him unsuited for the presidency, and we’ll keep saying it right up until the election, when we hope he fades from the national stage and takes his repugnant intolerance with him. Yet we also fear his campaign has given currency to dangerously wrong ideas about race, religion and proper conduct of a civil society. More reasonable minds recognize those ideas as intellectually and morally bankrupt, and they should recognize the boastful messenger for what he is.
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