Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Louder and Meaner Trump Talks, Higher His Poll Numbers Surge: Mary Hunt's Call for a National Theological State of Emergency to Address Islamophobia

We cannot ignore this, folks. We'd be foolish to do so, as this kind of hate speech becomes normalized in our public square through its legitimization by a candidate for the presidency representing one of our two major political parties: David Badash reports

At Donald Trump's rally in Las Vegas Monday night, supporters attacked several Black Lives Matter protestors.  
Buzzfeed's McKay Coppins recorded and posted this video of security personnel dragging a protestor out, during which one Trump supporter can be heard saying, "Light that motherf*cker on fire!" [Note: see the tweet at the head of this posting.}

As Badash notes, MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin tweeted from the same rally that Trump supporters shouted "Sieg hell!" as all of this was going on.

As the preceding happens on the eve of the next Republican presidential debate, Katherine Krueger reports

A new national poll out Monday shows real estate mogul Donald Trump surging ahead by his widest margin yet, with the Republican presidential candidate cementing himself as the GOP frontrunner by almost 30 points. 
Trump hit 41 percent national support among Republican and GOP-leaning voters in the December Monmouth University Poll, a marked increase from 28 percent in its October poll, to hit his widest lead of any national poll this cycle. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) saw a more modest 4-point boost to 14 percent support, good enough for second place in the still-crowded Republican field.

The louder Trump shouts about barring Muslims from the U.S., the more support he picks up among Republican voters as a whole — not from people on the fringes of American society. From Republican voters . . . . As Rami G. Khouri points out this morning,  

The problem with U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s extreme proposal to temporarily limit the entry of Muslims into the United States is not that it reflects an aberrant, occasional fringe position that threatens one minority group. It reveals a much more uncomfortable fact: Trump’s comments are part of a long tradition of the white Christian majority’s isolating, mistreating and making scapegoats of groups that are perceived as encroaching on and threatening its hegemonic privileges. 
Throughout the last four centuries, populist and demagogic U.S. politicians have routinely exploited ignorance, arrogance, fear and militarism to advance the kinds of racism and xenophobia we witness against Muslims today.  . . .  
In this sense, Trump is not an aberration from American political values but their ugly, all-American poster child. 

Given the quickly accumulating evidence that, as Michael Tomasky puts the point, "the Republican Party of Trump is becoming a white-identity party, like the far-right parties of Europe," I wholeheartedly endorse theologian Mary Hunt's call for the declaration of a national theological state of emergency to face the growing problem of Islamophobia in American society today. Mary argues that, given the dismal state of religious literacy of the average American and the shallowness of mainstream media reporting on religious and theological issues, we need "scholars and activists of many religions need to step forward in concrete, educational ways" to help Americans understand who Muslims are and what they believe.

She concludes,

Not since the Nazi period has the specter of religiously-based oppression taken on such a heightened profile, with the potential for such devastating results. I believe it is a true emergency for which strong and constructive countermeasures are necessary.

She's right about that. And about her implied contention that if we don't act immediately to address this problem, it may soon be too late to do so.

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