There was an extraordinary moment during last night’s Republican debate when the front runner, Donald Trump, advocated the murder of innocent family members of suspected terrorists. As my jaw hit the floor, I waited for the response from the other candidates and the moderator. Only Jeb Bush responded, saying it was crazy while Trump made silly faces mocking him, and a bit later, Rand Paul spoke up about how such a plan would violate the Geneva Convention, to which Trump responded, “so they can kill us, but we can’t kill them?” Nothing from the moderators, and nothing else from the other candidates in what was an excruciatingly long fear fantasy about how this country is on the verge of collapse due to radicalized Jihadists or Muslim extremism.
In all the talk about terrorism, not a word was mentioned about the radical Christians who killed three people and injured nine more, including five police officers, in the Planned Parenthood attack. Not a word on all the mass shootings we’ve endured over the past few years. Somehow, people getting shot in elementary schools and movie theatres doesn’t register a blip on the radar screen. The candidates that are owned by the NRA always point to the constitutional rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment. These arguments lose their validity when the same politicians advocate unconstitutional activities like torture or the murder of innocent people.
It’s clear that in the Republican view of things, we are to be fearful of foreigners, whether they are Muslims or Mexicans. What they seem to miss is that by all the tough guy rhetoric, they are in fact empowering ISIS, that they are making the point that ISIS wants Muslims to believe, that the United States hates them and wants to stamp them out. How is a law abiding Muslim citizen supposed to react when one of the candidates threatens to kill him with no regard for innocence or guilt? Radicalization begets radicalization, and Trump’s comments were reckless and insanely extreme.
CNN can go take a flying leap, too. It wasn’t only the moderators who ignored these outrageous remarks, I watched the post-debate coverage in vain waiting for someone to mention them. But no, they were too busy doing their post-game analysis – and by post game, I’m referring to how the entire night was presented. It was just like an NFL football game, as the pre-debate show focused on strategies and who was winning or losing, offense and defense, and who had what strengths and weaknesses. The scene got even more surreal when the debate opened with a woman singing the national anthem. Then the post-game show, with the highlights and lowlights, who had the best sound bites. “Jeb Bush was more aggressive, Ted Cruz was rude, “, etc. etc. Never mind that the front runner advocated the state sponsored murder of innocent civilians.
I’m also fed up with the Democratic Party, whose strategy seems to be to run and hide. Their next debate is Saturday, the 19th, the Saturday before Christmas, traditionally one of the lowest viewed nights of the year. There’s been nothing coming out of the Clinton or Sanders camps, while the whole nation tuned in last night to hear all the Re-Pubes relentlessly attack Obama and Clinton. As usual, they are quiet and unresponsive (“feckless,” as Chris Christie called them), unwilling to engage in the muddy brawl that the Republicans understand modern day politics to be. As usual, they stand by doing nothing while the right slices them open. President Trump doesn’t sound as nearly unlikely as it should, and if it becomes a reality, the Democrats need only to blame themselves – again.
When I was growing up, one of the questions was, how did an advanced and powerful country like Germany fall into the hands of Hitler? It could never happen here, we were assured, we have too many checks and balances. Yet here we are, less than a year away from our next presidential election, with an unapologetic fascist and indisputable egomaniac who spews outrageous hatred, as the frontrunner of the Republican Party.
We need to wake up while we still can.