Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Opinion: Trump embraces religious bigotry


UPDATE at 1:45 p.m.:

The virulently anti-Muslim videos retweeted this morning by President Trump appear to be largely if not entirely false. For example, one video retweeted by Trump purports to show a Muslim immigrant attacking a young Dutch boy on crutches. But according to the Dutch media, the attacker was neither Muslim nor an immigrant, and the two boys depicted in the video had a longstanding personal dispute.

When asked about such concerns, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tried to argue that the veracity of the videos doesn't matter and that it's wrong for the media and others to focus on their accuracy.

""I'm not talking about the nature of the video. I think you're focusing on the wrong thing," she told the press. "The threat is real, and that's what the President is talking about, is the need for national security and military spending, those are very real things, there's nothing fake about that."

And down into the rabbit hole we tumble, down into a wonderland in which facts don't matter, the truth doesn't matter, and "facts" and "truth" are in fact meaningless and irrelevant concepts.  In public debate and discussion, fake evidence is now as good as real evidence, which I guess is a mighty convenient thing for those who can't cite actual facts and evidence when making their case.

And of course, once you've done that, you've also destroyed any basis for rational thought and analysis. Again, convenient for some in the short term, but in the long run it's deadly. You can't live your life on that basis, and you sure as hell can't run a country that way.

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ORIGINAL POST:

Your president -- and mine -- spent his early morning tweeting out multiple, viciously irresponsible anti-Muslim videos posted by a fascist right-wing hate group in Britain.

That group, Britain First, was of course thrilled by the recognition and validation.

Jayda Fransen, the woman whose account was retweeted by Donald Trump, already faces charges on four counts of religious harassment in Britain, and was rearrested just 10 days ago for extremist remarks that she made at a rally in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Among other outrages, she and her group, Britain First, have made it a practice to invade British mosques en masse during prayer, carrying Bibles and demanding that Muslims convert to Christianity if they want to stay in the United Kingdom. They also want a ban on new mosques nationwide.

"We will restore Christianity as the bedrock and foundation of our national life as it has been for the last one thousand years," it says in its mission statement. “We will make Britain a beautiful country once again where you can leave your door unlocked and your children can play in the streets.”

Even the anti-immigrant movement UKIP has tried to separate itself from Fransen's group.

"On the fringes of our politics are nutters, and we don’t want them anywhere near us," as a UKIP spokesman put it. Well, Trump has now publicly embraced and endorsed those "nutters."

Not surprisingly, British politicians quickly condemned Trump's actions, with many demanding that a state visit by Trump planned for early next year be canceled. Anti-Muslim bigots such as Michael Savage and Pamela Geller have already been banned from entering the United Kingdom, and Trump may end up on that list as well.

"Trump sharing Britain First. Let that sink in," wrote one member of Parliament. "The President of the United States is promoting a fascist, racist, extremist hate group whose leaders have been arrested and convicted. He is no ally or friend of ours.

"Donald Trump you are not welcome in my country and my city."

"‘Trump has legitimised the far right in his own country, now he’s trying to do it in ours," tweeted Brendan Cox. "Spreading hatred has consequences and the President should be ashamed of himself." Cox's wife, Jo, a member of Parliament, was stabbed and shot last year by a man who yelled "Britain First" over her dead body.

Again, this is our president, the man whom we've elected to lead us and to represent us on the international stage, to embody American values to the world. By retweeting Britain First media, he has encouraged racists extremists and violence not only in the United Kingdom but in other countries as well. He has put himself, and by extension us, on the side of the haters.

Imagine a president retweeting fake, anti-Jewish videos. Or anti-Catholic or anti-black videos. Then explain to me how this is somehow different because the target is Muslims.

 


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.