Wednesday, June 15th, 2016...11:27 am

Editorial: Trump fans the flames of hate

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In 1968, I attended a George Wallace rally in Minneapolis. Some of our younger readers might not recall the segregationist governor of Alabama, who ran for president on the ticket of the American Independent Party.

In a year that saw the assassinations of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Sen. Robert Kennedy, and a variety of riots and insurrections, Wallace toured the country stirring up racial hatred. His stop at the Minneapolis Auditorium was no exception.

The rally took place nearly 50 years ago, but I recall that hundreds of protesters in the auditorium became increasingly agitated as a miserable country-western band, Wallace’s warm-up act, played on interminably. Finally, protesters congregated in front of the stage and were met by a phalanx of Minneapolis cops (likely some of them were Wallace supporters). The cops sprayed mace on the protesters, even before Wallace came out to speak. During the candidate’s oration, a throng of protesters in the seats stage left mocked Wallace by repeatedly thrusting out their arms in the Nazi salute and yelling, “Sieg heil!” It was quite a show.

Wallace went on to carry five Southern states and gain nearly 10 million votes in 1968.

In 2016, we again are faced with a racist, nativist candidate for president — this time, however, he is the presumptive nominee of one of the two major political parties in the United States. Donald Trump, a fascistic and bigoted politician, represents a greater danger to this nation than did George Wallace in 1968.

Trump gained a following during the Republican primaries with his crude denunciations of Mexicans, Muslims and women. When Trump announced his ban on all Muslims entering the U.S., following the mass shooting by ISIS supporters in San Bernardino, Calif., Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), said his comment was “deeply offensive to us as Jews, unquestionably unconstitutional, and has absolutely no place in American politics.”

In his statement last December, Hunegs added that “scapegoating and singling out all Muslims for odious discrimination is not a solution worthy of the American people or our traditions. It is also precisely the kind of absurd overreaction that our enemies are counting on to incite additional rounds of lethal terrorism against Americans and our allies.”

While political pundits have tried to discern Trump’s pivot to a “presidential” manner, after having secured the necessary delegates to gain the GOP presidential nomination, the old deranged Trump took to the podium, and to Twitter, after Sunday’s massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

For example, @realDonaldTrump tweeted, regarding press reports that the Orlando shooter had pledged allegiance to ISIS: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

In fact, Trump’s calls to ban Muslim immigrants and visitors from the U.S. are completely wrong, vis-à-vis the problem of carnage wrought by American born Muslims.

President Obama forcefully pushed back on Trump’s toxic rhetoric this week.

“We hear language that singles out immigrants and suggests entire religious communities are complicit in violence,” the president responded, in an appearance at the Treasury Department on Tuesday, following a meeting with his national security team on the status of the American effort against the Islamic State, according to the New York Times. “Where does this stop?”

Trump, in a speech Monday at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, restated his ban on Muslims, or anybody coming here from areas hostile to the U.S. and its allies. Further, Trump suggested that Muslims in the U.S. were guilty of protecting their co-religionists bent on mounting violent attacks: “Now, the Muslim communities so importantly, they have to work with us. They have to cooperate with law enforcement and turn in the people who they know are bad. And they know it. And they have to do it and they have to do it forthwith.”

Again, President Obama addressed Trump’s outrageously irresponsible comments that cast all Muslims as enemies of this country:

“Are we going to start treating all Muslim-Americans differently? Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance? Are we going to start discriminating against them because of their faith? Do Republican officials actually agree with this?”

With the Trump candidacy, the damage has been done. We are faced with the possibility of an ignoramus gaining the White House, a narcissistic nincompoop assuming the power of this nation’s top executive post.

A Trump presidency would be catastrophic for this country. We must dedicate ourselves to stopping Trump. His mendacious comments should be denounced by every Jewish organization and from every synagogue pulpit.

In the late 1970s, George Wallace announced that he was a born-again Christian, and he apologized to the civil rights leaders he once opposed. “I was wrong. Those days are over, and they ought to be over,” said Wallace.

With Trump, it’s difficult to conceive of this arrogant and vacuous person engaging in such cheshbon ha’nefesh, soul searching, and apologizing to the many groups he has offended. In the absence of this accountability, we must organize so that the Trump candidacy utterly fails.

— Mordecai Specktor / editor@ajwnews.com

(American Jewish World, 6.17.16)

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