November 29 2017, 1:10 p.m.
I know it’s hard to keep up, but this morning President Donald Trump did something so dangerous, offensive, and problematic that it must be confronted head-on. In my circles, we are wary of playing what we call the “Oppression Olympics,” where one horrible moment of bigotry gets ranked against the next, but I am forced to say that what Trump did this morning is a low moment for a very low presidency.
As he does most mornings, Trump woke up and began his daily tweet-fest. Each tweet could be legitimately critiqued and dissected. This morning, however, there were three very disturbing retweets that we must confront like our lives depend on it — because for some of us, it does. I truly believe that Trump — who, I remind you, is the president of the United States and has over 44 million followers on Twitter alone — has just endangered millions of people.
Trump has just endangered millions of people. The videos Trump promoted are pieces of hateful, anti-Muslim propaganda.
Trump retweeted several videos from a group called Britain First, a far-right, white supremacist group. The videos Trump promoted are pieces of hateful, anti-Muslim propaganda. One of the videos, purporting to be of a young Muslim immigrant assaulting a young Dutch man, appears to be an absolute hoax. There is no indication that the perpetrator of the attack is a Muslim. As my colleague Rob Mackey wrote, Britain First has a long history of distorting videos and releasing misleading information to promote its hateful cause; the group is a purveyor of bigoted hoaxes.
The more you learn about Britain First, the worse it gets. Jayda Fransen, the group’s deputy leader, is a widely known bigot in the U.K. This is not just my opinion: She has been convicted of a hate crime for brutally harassing a young Muslim mother in front of her children. Ten days ago, she was arrested in Belfast in a separate incident and charged with “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior.”
On Wednesday, Fransen was thrilled with Trump’s retweets, posting an all-caps message about it: “DONALD TRUMP HIMSELF HAS RETWEETED THESE VIDEOS AND HAS AROUND 44 MILLION FOLLOWERS! GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP! GOD BLESS AMERICA!” she wrote. After thanking Trump, Fransen then went on a tweeting spree, in which she appears to openly accept that the videos were hateful, Islamophobic, and anti-Muslim.
The British reaction gives us an idea of how bad things are. David Lammy, a Labour member of parliament, was outraged. “Trump sharing Britain First,” he tweeted. “Let that sink in. 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.”
Again: The president of the United States is sharing outrageous hate videos from a convicted hate-monger with the world. Maybe your ability to be disturbed ran out a long time ago, but this is beyond the pale. I have spoken this morning with over a dozen of my closest Muslim friends and colleagues. Without fail, each of them was not only deeply offended by what Trump has done, but they also each felt like the president of the United States just mainstreamed hate and violence against them.
Suddenly a convicted hate leader who most of the world had never heard of feels empowered. She has been amplified and given a platform beyond her wildest dreams. She is now literally thanking God for Donald Trump. Now she is being interviewed by CBS and forced into the American mainstream.
Today, Trump made the most flagrant bigots among us proud. They see him as their leader. Why wouldn’t they?
All of this goes right back to square one with Trump. He had long since targeted Muslims and made an entire religion the focus of his ire. During his campaign, he said, “I think Islam hates us” and threatened to ban all Muslims from coming to the U.S. After entering office, Trump attempted to enact a more limited “Muslim ban,” focusing on only a handful of Muslim countries. With the courts striking down the bans over and over again, Trump has been forced to moderate his policies. But his tweets today prove it is unadulterated hate and Islamophobia that drive him.
Just like he did after Trump’s middling remarks about the violence surrounding a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, this summer, one of America’s leading white supremacists David Duke is again thanking Trump for his actions today. That kind of sums it up. Today, Trump made the most flagrant bigots among us proud. They see him as their leader. Why wouldn’t they?
These hate-mongers are feeling empowered, and so are their followers. Hate crimes are on the rise in the U.S., according to FBI statistics, especially against Muslims. That’s what I mean when I say Trump is putting people in real danger. With Trump promoting the worst anti-Muslim hate, things are steadily getting more and more precarious for our Muslim brothers and sisters in the U.S. and across the world.
I wondered how much worse things could get coming from Donald Trump. Today proves that we’re not even close to rock bottom.
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