US Opinion and Commentary

“VOA will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussion and opinion on these policies.” — VOA Charter

Demagoguery or Democracy? Trump’s Take on Muslims

Posted December 9th, 2015 at 3:58 pm (UTC-4)
Comments are closed

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” These famed words, written by American poet Emma Lazarus and inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, have greeted immigrants arriving on the shores of New York since 1903. They are the essence of these United States.

So, when Republican hopeful Donald Trump proposed barring all Muslims from entering America in response to the San Bernadino terror attack is he practicing democratic principle of free speech? Or, are these the words of a demagogue?

Democratic Activist Says Donald Trump Fits Demagogue Mold

Michael Signer  – NPR News

You have economic fear. You have this idea of American decline. You have collapse of statesmanship as an ideal…. And we have a worship of celebrity.

…[T]he people that he’s playing to would think that the system that he’s attacking is corrupt, weak, all those other things. But the problem is that he’s now turning on the basic precepts of American constitutional democracy, freedom of religion, an open society, you know, the state having monopoly on violence. He’s getting close to encouraging violence….

There is a burden of responsibility that comes with being a citizen of a constitutional democracy. And if you decide to go with your gut as opposed to caring about those values, then you are hurting this country….

And then, Trump, who’s a creature, comes from the entertainment world, comes from a culture of narcissism, he doesn’t care about any of those rules.

So I don’t think it’s OK to say, well, you know, I know about the principle of separation of church and state, and I know about not having violence in our politics, but I’m going to go with Trump anyway because I’m so angry at the system. That’s not OK. It’s definitively not OK in the United States of America, and it needs to be condemned.

FBI Director James Comey responds to a question from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) about whether rhetoric such as that from Donald Trump “empowers the enemy?” Comey was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee during an FBI oversight hearing December 9, 2015. Note: Graham is a Republican presidential candidate.


How Trump Differs From Demagogues Past

Jeet Heer – The New Republic

As Donald Trump continues to poison public discourse with his open racism, most recently in his call to bar all Muslims from entering the United States, it’s worth reflecting on the fate of earlier rabble-rousers like… Joseph McCarthy….

in 1954, McCarthy made the mistake of attacking the army, a popular institution that was able to stand up to the Wisconsin senator. It was an army lawyer, Joseph Welch, who unleashed a devastating attack on McCarthy during a televised hearing, famously asking, ‘Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?’ Later in 1954, the Senate voted to censure McCarthy….

Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wisc., right, at a seated session of the joint Congressional Committee on Housing on Jan. 28, 1948. (AP)

Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wisc., right, at a seated session of the joint Congressional Committee on Housing on Jan. 28, 1948. (AP)

In 2015, it’s not clear that the Republican Party as an institution has the muscle to take on Trump. He doesn’t need the party for money and he holds no elective office. So there is almost nothing the party can do to rein him in. Meanwhile, the mainstream media’s reputation has never been worse, and it is particularly suspect among Republican voters.

The Method Behind Obama’s Madness – and Trump’s

John Podhoretz – The New York Post

…[T]he purpose of his ludicrous statement was to seize control of the news cycle. On Monday morning, the most serious and substantive poll yet of Iowa, the first state to vote, showed him in second place with 19 percent behind Ted Cruz at 24 percent….

So Trump and his people know they’re in trouble. And since he has staked his viability as a candidate on his presence atop the polls, he had to do something once he began looking like (as he would say) a loser.

He had to change the story from Cruz’s rise to . . . anything else. It just so happened that “anything else” was denying all Muslims entry into the United States. So, of course, everybody went nuts, the news was all Trump — and the news of Cruz was buried.

Neither the president nor Trump is having a nervous breakdown.

But because of them, the rest of us are.

Video: Donald Trump on Banning Muslim Immigrants (AP):



Comments are closed.