Donald Trump's Comments About Obama Play Into Islamophobia, Which Isn't A Good Look For The Next President
Even in 2015, 14 years after the tragic events on Sept. 11, 2001, Islamophobia is still prevalent among top politicians and political hopefuls. In a series of tweets Saturday, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump defended his actions during a Friday campaign rally, when he didn't correct a crowd member who said Obama is a Muslim who's "not even an American." Trump tweeted Saturday that he isn't "morally obligated" to defend Obama from others' attacks, even comments about his birthplace. And on Sunday's episode of ABC's This Week, Donald Trump refused to say whether Obama was born in the United States. Whether or not it was his intention, Trump's comments resembled Islamophobia — not a great look for someone who wants to be president.
Trump's explanation for why he didn't correct the man on Friday was basically the verbal equivalent of Shruggie: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ "I talk about jobs, I'm talking about the military — I don't get into it," Trump said on This Week. "They ask that question and I just want to talk about the things because it's of no longer interest to me. We're beyond that and it's just something I don't talk about."
But even if Obama's nationality isn't something Trump wants to talk about, the fact that he continues to defend his actions isn't a great move for someone who wants to be the country's next president. In fact, Trump's statements on the show prove that he likely won't be an unbiased president in racial matters. Trump said that to some extent, he agreed with the man who called Obama a Muslim. "We can say no, and you can be politically correct and say everything's wonderful, but I haven't seen people from Sweden going back and leaving after the bombing of the World Trade Center," Trump said Sunday. "So, certainly, it's a problem, and there is a problem."
The worst part is, Trump wasn't even the only GOP presidential hopeful to stir the Islamophobia pot this weekend. In an interview Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press, Ben Carson said that he "would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation." Carson added that he "absolutely would not agree" with a Muslim being elected president. Unfortunately, comments like the ones Trump and Carson made this weekend do nothing to advance tolerance among Americans. Racist comments about President Obama's birthplace, nationality, and religious background aren't helping the United States achieve anything, policy-related or otherwise, but Trump still seems more concerned with the shock value of his statements than with working to actually "make America great again."
There's definitely a problem here — but it's not Muslims. Though Trump went on to say that most Muslims "are fabulous," it doesn't negate his earlier statements, especially not when he actually used the "I have friends that are Muslims" argument. Hopefully, those friends will advise him to focus his presidential campaign on issues that don't include attacking people based on their race or religion.