Dean Obeidallah: Trump has offered a master class in how to demonize one particular faith group
Trump has continued to serve up a steady diet of bigoted, racist and sexist fare, he says
Hillary Clinton is not the lesser of two evils in this election. There’s only one “evil” in this race, and his name is Donald J. Trump. That was on clear display during Trump’s speech Wednesday, which was riddled with falsehoods.
I say this as a person who passionately supported Bernie Sanders during the primaries. After all, Clinton was – and continues to be – the less progressive candidate on issues both domestic and foreign. She maintains uncomfortably strong ties to Wall Street and remains hawkish on international affairs.
Of course, there are other issues that have given Sanders supporters room for pause. Clinton received extremely large paychecks for speeches at Goldman Sachs and other big banks after leaving the State Department. She supported a controversial 1994 crime bill that disproportionally affected minorities and then referred to young black men involved in criminal activity as “super predators.” (She has since apologized for the use of that term.) Then there’s Clinton’s email server controversy – though frankly this is an issue raised more by conservative opposition than by progressive liberals.
And all of this has taken a toll on her overall favorability. A new CNN poll out Tuesday finds that Trump and Clinton are tied with an abysmal six in 10 Americans viewing both of them as unfavorable candidates.
But the difference between Clinton and Trump is about more than their divergent views on tax law, immigration, or foreign policy. It’s about the battle of good versus evil.
The “evil” in Trump’s campaign has been evident since the day he declared his candidacy. He kicked off his campaign a year ago this month, telling Americans to fear Mexicans because, in his words, Mexico was sending “rapists” and people who are “bringing drugs” across our borders. (Trump’s statement has been proven false by a group of non-partisan fact checkers.)
Since then, Trump has continued to serve up a steady diet of bigoted, racist and sexist fare. There was Trump’s sexist remarks about Carly Fiorina’s face, his recent racist comments about the so-called “Mexican” judge, and his mocking of a disabled reporter for failing to back up Trump’s baseless claim that “thousands” of Muslims were cheering in New Jersey on September 11.
Speaking of Muslims, Trump has offered a master class in how to demonize one particular faith group. He kicked off his jihad on Muslims last December with his proposed Muslim ban that was less a well-reasoned policy proposal and more a tactic designed to stir up xenophobic sentiment across the country. He then gave us in March “Islam hates us.” And Trump recently took his fearmongering one step further, suggesting that Muslim Americans know about terror plots but do not come forward to the authorities. In other words, Trump insinuated that all Muslim Americans are one degree removed from ISIS and other Islamic extremist networks.
Clinton, in stark contrast, has neither demonized any minority group nor made any bigoted or racist remarks. In fact, she’s done the exact opposite. In her Super Tuesday speech, Clinton proclaimed, “Trying to divide America between us and them is wrong, and we’re not going to let it work.”
And just last week, a day after the Orlando shooting, she actually stood up for the Muslim community. This was a bold a move – and one for which she has been given virtually no credit. Sadly, there is little upside to defending Muslims in American politics today, but particularly the day after a shooter pledges allegiance to ISIS and kills 49 innocent club-goers.
Yet Clinton did just that, declaring that “millions of peace-loving Muslims live, work and raise their families across America.” She added, powerfully, “We should be intensifying contacts in those communities, not scapegoating or isolating them.” In doing so, Clinton changed the tenor of the conversation from that of fear and hate to one of love and kindness.
Our nation appears to be at a true crossroads in this election in the battle between Trump and Clinton. Some would say our nation’s soul hangs in the balance. If you don’t want to vote for Clinton, that’s your democratic right. But stating that Clinton is the lesser of two evils is not just factually wrong – it makes you an apologist for Donald J. Trump’s “evils.”
Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM’s weekly program “The Dean Obeidallah Show,” a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of the politics blog The Dean’s Report. Follow him on Twitter: @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.