Lost amid all the buzz that has reached a fever pitch with the Iowa caucuses on all the 24-hour news stations, the Internet and in major newspapers has been the overlooked, under-reported, fact that leaders of one of the major parties have continued to ground their campaigns on the most disgusting forms of racism and exclusionism that have ever been condoned in the modern era.
The powerful moral suasion that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought to the nation in the 1960s muted the voices of hate and division for decades following his assassination in 1968, as reflected in the civility on issues of race and quality that by and large dominated the American political landscape.
But now as America is being led so deftly by its first African-American president, unleashed through the other party has been a narrative that is so hateful, so repulsive, that it is downright astonishing that no prominent civil commentators have insisted it stop.
Donald Trump has been the king of the offenders, empowering and enabling every racist scumbag in the country to bellow from the top of his lungs. By advocating for a ban on Muslims allowed into the U.S., and by promising to build a fence on the U.S.-Mexican border, this fascist thug should be jailed for hate speech, if not treason.
But Sen. Ted Cruz is no better, and the fact that all the other GOP candidates stand with their stuffed heads sticking out from their business suits saying nothing while this ugliness escalates is tantamount to an indictment of them, too. For that matter, God forbid that anyone from CNN et al say a word!
Now, in this horrible environment, President Obama has once again demonstrated that, among the Republicans and the media at least, he is the only adult in the room.
He ventured an hour north from the White House yesterday to deliver remarks at a Islamic mosque, at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, saying many of the things that if they were repeated often, and prominently, enough could go a long way to ending the climate that permits of such hatred in the U.S., and such terrorism as we are seeing in the Middle East.
Without naming Trump, he assailed “inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim Americans that has no place in our country,” and the subsequent “threats and harrassment of Muslim Americans” that have resulted.
At its core, Obama’s remarks were an impassioned call to what he called “moral clarity” against the immoral thuggery of Trump and the others on the one side, and the murderous cult leaders who are wreaking terror in the name of Islam on the other. The fact that there is a moral equivalency between these two is stunning, but poignant and factual.
“Let’s start with this fact,” Obama said yesterday. “For more than a thousand years, people have been drawn to Islam’s message of peace. The very word itself, Islam, comes from salam, peace…Like so many faiths, Islam is rooted in the commitment to compassion and mercy and justice and charity.”
He added, “‘Whoever wants to enter paradise,’ the Prophet Muhammad taught, ‘let him treat people the way he would love to be treated.’ For Christians like myself, I’m assuming that sounds familiar.” He also quoted the Koran saying, “Whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind.”
Obama struck a major point when he said, “We forget how much we share – Christians, Jews, Muslims – we’re all, under our faiths, descendents of Abraham.
“So mere tolerance of different religions is not enough. Our faiths summon us to embrace our common humanity…So all of us have the task of expressing our religious faith in a way that seeks to build bridges rather than to divide.”
He summed it up, “There is a battle for the hearts and minds that is taking place right now, and American Muslims are better positioned than anybody to show that it is possible to be faithful to Islam and to be part of a pluralistic society, and to be on the cutting edge of science, and to believe in democracy.”