Trump claims that thousands of American Muslims wildly celebrated the 9/11 terror attacks. Although he cannot substantiate that claim, few conservatives dare contradict him.
As Americans went to the polls in November 2002 to vote in the first post-9/11 election, Bill Clinton described their mood by remarking, “When people are insecure, they’d rather have somebody who is strong and wrong than someone who’s weak and right.”
No one fits the description “strong and wrong” more aptly than Donald Trump: His boundless self-confidence makes the presidential candidate appear strong while being wrong about a number of things. His plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border is hardly realistic, and many of his other proposals suggest the United States is not part of a globalized world.
But since the terror attacks in Paris, a new dimension has been added: The 69-year-old Trump, already far ahead in public opinion polls, has started spreading lies, beginning with the assertion that the Obama administration wanted to take 250,000 Muslim refugees into the United States. This is untrue. That number originated on a website known for fabricating fraudulent news stories. Trump has yet to correct that claim.
For days now, the millionaire has demanded that mosques be put under observation based on his claim that he personally saw how thousands of Muslims celebrated in New Jersey when the second World Trade Center tower collapsed. When asked about his earlier statement that on the morning of the attacks he was at his own apartment in Manhattan, he replied, “It was on television. I saw it.”
The fact checkers at Politifact and The Washington Post joined in the hunt for proof and found — nothing. Politifact’s decision: Trump’s claim was devoid of any logic. Had thousands of Muslims celebrated, many people in addition to the real estate billionaire would have witnessed and remembered the action, and there would be video recordings and other audio-visual material memorializing it.
Despite his lack of backup material, Trump doubled down on his claim of seeing celebrating Muslims and went even further, promising during a South Carolina appearance that he would order all Syrian refugees out of the United States when he became president.
Bogus African-American Data
Last Saturday, Trump retweeted a violent crime infographic showing that 81 percent of white murder victims were killed by blacks. This assertion is also totally false. The correct data for 2014 in that category is 15 percent — and the “Crime Statistics Bureau” cited in the infographic doesn’t even exist any longer. To date, the tweet is still up, and Trump has made no corrections to it.
These statements, as well as the fact that Trump supports the re-introduction of torture techniques such as waterboarding, are disturbing enough. Even worse, however, is the fact that none of the other presidential candidates dares challenge his actions and that other leading Republicans are likewise keeping low profiles. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank ingeniously describes the phenomenon as “The Liar and the Lemmings,” where the lemmings are fearful of alienating angry Trump fans so Ted Cruz and Co. simply avoid any opposition.
Commenting on Trump’s claim of witnessing Muslim celebrations of the 9/11 attacks, Christie said, “I do not remember that, and so it’s not something that was part of my recollection. I think if it had happened, I would remember it, but, you know, there could be things I forget, too.”
Marco Rubio flatly denied the celebrations happened, Jeb Bush called them abominable as did the also-ran contender, George Pataki, who was New York governor at the time the terrorist attacks took place.
But what’s with Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s ranking Republican? Or Paul Ryan, newly elected speaker of the House? Where is former President George W. Bush? They’re all as silent as Reince Priebus, the nominal leader of the Republican Party — but whose power is negligible compared to Merkel, Gabriel or Seehofer. While it’s true that some conservative experts and advisers have branded Trump’s pronouncements as “fascistic,” the party elites have generally remained uncritically aloof for some time.
Newspapers Criticize Trump’s ‘Racist Lies’
Above all, it’s the editorial pages of the major newspapers that are appealing to the conscience and responsibility of the Republican Party to distance itself from Trump’s politics of hatred. They liken the billionaire to a schoolyard bully. The harassment won’t stop, they say, until everyone unites and takes a stand against him.
The New York Times compares Trump with the paranoid Communist hunter Joseph McCarthy and racist Alabama Gov. George Wallace. But the newspaper says Trump’s party colleagues aren’t the only ones who should take action against Trump — journalists have a duty to expose Trump’s “racist lies” and to confront him with them as well.
The conservative Wall Street Journal reminds us of Trump’s other failings regarding women, Latinos, and other politicians like John McCain, and then attempts to analyze the phenomenon called “The Donald.” Their analysis concludes that because of widespread anger and insecurity in American society, such shortcomings would not be detrimental to Republicans.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich belongs to that segment of candidates unafraid to stand up to the New York real estate mogul. Kasich’s poll numbers are currently in the single digits, and he loudly complains that Trump’s antics are damaging the GOP. His backers are now about to air a TV spot that will bring many of Trump’s more ridiculous statements into America’s living rooms.