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So another norm of public decency falls, like a historical building demolished to make way for one of Donald Trump’s tasteless towers.

Michael Gerson mug

Michael Gerson

When the president of the United States goes after an American Muslim — in this case Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who came to the U.S. as a Somali refugee — using images of the 9/11 attacks, it is cruel, frightening and dangerous in new ways.

It is cruel because Trump essentially delivered his political rant while standing on desecrated graves. The images he employed not only included burning buildings but burning human beings, drafted into a sad and sordid political ploy. Is nothing sacred to Trump? When said aloud, the question sounds like an absurdity. Trump has never given the slightest indication of propriety, respect or reverence. His narcissism leaves no room to honor other people or to honor other gods. Both the living and the dead matter only as servants to the cause of Trump himself.

This cruelty extends to those who have fled war in Syria. Barack Obama did little to serve their interests. Now, the victims of violence are treated as villains in Trump’s fictional version of global threats. Syrian refugees, according to Trump, are “trying to take over our children and convince them how wonderful ISIS is, and how wonderful Islam is.” On the strength of such calumnies, Trump has essentially destroyed America’s asylum system.

This has led to a frightening state of affairs. By all the evidence, Trump is an anti-Muslim bigot. At one campaign event in 2015, a member of the audience stated, “We have a problem in this country; it’s called Muslims.” And he went on to ask, “When can we get rid of them?” Trump responded: “We’re going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.” Imagine a normal politician on the left or right being asked about the possibility of getting rid of all the Christians, or getting rid of all the Jews. They would likely use such a moment to clarify that they aren’t, in fact, insanely prejudiced monsters. Trump used such a moment to affirm the instinct of mass deportation and to promise a range of other anti-Muslim actions.

Could this have been a slip of the tongue? No, it wasn’t. Trump has a long history of animus — raw animus — against one of the Abrahamic faiths. He has said, “We’re having problems with the Muslims.” And: “There is a Muslim problem in the world.” And: “The United Kingdom is trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem.” And: “Islam hates us.”

The Koran, in Trump’s scholarly opinion, “teaches some very negative vibe.” He has claimed: “You have people coming out of mosques with hatred and death in their eyes.” He once called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” He has variously and publicly considered the closing of mosques, warrantless searches and the creation of a national database to track Muslims. In Trump’s view, “We’re going to have to do things that we never did before.”

The president claims to have seen “thousands and thousands” of American Muslims cheering on 9/11 when the towers fell — a lie and a libel. He attacked a Muslim Gold Star mother, claiming that she “wasn’t allowed” to speak at the Democratic convention because of her faith — a lie and a libel. He has praised General John Pershing for executing Muslim insurgents in the Philippines with bullets dipped in pig’s blood — a historical myth, but a revealing fantasy of anti-Muslim war crimes.

By all the evidence, Trump believes that Islam is incompatible with American ideals and that Muslims are, as a group, threatening to American security. This is not only rank religious bigotry; it is the attitude most likely to alienate some Muslims from American ideals and turn a dangerous few toward radicalism and violence.

None of this requires us to believe that Omar is a wise or thoughtful public figure. She isn’t. She traffics in the worst anti-Semitic tropes. But Trump’s perception of religious liberty as freedom only for the faiths he prefers is a potential threat to every religious group. What if some future leader views Mormonism as incompatible with American democracy, or evangelical Protestantism? By what principle would Trump supporters be able to criticize discrimination against such groups?

Religious freedom is either rigorously equal, or it becomes an instrument of those in power to favor or disfavor religions of their choice. And those believers who are currently in favor may someday discover what disfavor is like.

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Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson can be reached at michaelgerson@washpost.com.

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(53) comments

Redwall

The WaPo libs are switch hitting this week. They couldnt make the usual accusation calling Trump anti-semitic during the same week Netanyahu is thanking Trump for his support during the Israeli elections.

So they invent this trash to feed the dopes. Long live fake news.

However...no collusion.

oldhomey

Hmm. What is in the Mueller report certainly does not support your flat-out "no collusion" opinion, Red. And I notice that you did not insist that there was "no obstruction". Is that due to the Mueller Report release, which documents that there was plenty of obstruction on the part of Trump?

new2Lax

If there was truly this obstruction you say, what is it and why wouldn’t Mueller make a charge of obstruction. Is it maybe thinking about something is not actually obstruction. Obstruction is something like destroying e-mails after they have been subpoenaed, collusion would be something like paying a Russian operative for a document filled with false accusations, being fired for inappropriate behavior while heading the DOJ or the FBI.These folks were not thinking these things, they actually did them.

oldhomey

Ahem. new2, Mueller did not have the legal power to file charges. He could only refer the evidence to proper authorities to take it from there. In this case, because it is unclear if a sitting president can be indicted, he could not refer the evidence to a U.S. attorney. He seemed, according to the wording, referred it to Congress, which does have the authority to consider felonious charges against a sitting president. But Trump's new personal lawyer, Barr, instead jumped in and said there was not enough evidence to pursue objection of justice charges. The House of Representatives has a different idea about this, however. Stay tuned. And, for God's sake, read the report. It is rife with evidence of Trump desperately trying to stop the investigation. Since you have trouble comprehending the written word, perhaps your wife could sit down and read it to you. You do have a wife, don't you?

oldhomey

not "objection of justice" but "obstruction of justice". I seem to be taking a page out of the new2 book on expository writing. I deserve 40 lashes at least.

PhysicsIsFun

The only reason Mueller couldn't find direct evidence of a conspiracy is Trump and his minions are such a bunch of liars. Trump won the election with the help of the Russians, and did all he could to cover it up and obstruct justice. What a creep.

Redwall

Hilarious. If it were not so sad.

What over-reaching fools these lib columnists are with their unlimited hate for Trump.

The media will never recover.

What trash.

oldhomey

That "trashy" mainstream media, Red? Did you look through the Mueller Report? All those stories about Russian efforts to undermine the election, to throw the election in Trump's direction and all Trump's efforts to squelch the Mueller investigation that Trump bellowed were "fake news" were not fake at all. The media had it right, and he was lying all the way through it. Fake news, indeed. It makes what you say worse than trash.

Climatehoax

Holley, point out one thing in my post that isn’t FACT

Rick Czeczok

Dem's are digging at the bottom of the barrel now to come up with this. They better start looking at the destruction of their own party. Democrats are not socialist and socialist are not independence, but Independent Bernie Sanders the leader of their party is a Independent running as a democrat with a socialist agenda. And you say the republicans are messed up. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

PhysicsIsFun

Michael Gerson is a Republican. Other than that great comment (not!).

Rick Czeczok

No wonder you were a physics engineer that was teaching 14 and 15 year olds and not making the big bucks out in the private world. You miss just about every point I make. Not a real bright person are you?

oldhomey

Ricky, the point is that Gerson is a conservative Republican columnist who once wrote speeches for George W. Bush. That is the point. You made no points at all in your 6:47pm post other than to point up the fact that you are an ignoramus of the first order. If you are so bothered about Sanders not being a fully fledged Democrat, you must be terribly conflicted by the fact that your putatively Republican president, Trump, a few years ago identified as a Democrat, and that he has not embraced a single Republican issue other than cutting taxes since he was elected. But you being a real bright person in your own mind apparently are blinded by the lights flashing in your head from seeing this. Your laughter continues to be such a welcome tonic in all of our days.

capedcrusader

That may have been one of the stupidest comments you have ever made. Think about it.

PhysicsIsFun

Ricky you show us your personal brand of stupidity every time you post here. I love your juvenile personal attacks. Your use of capital letters. Your HAHAHA. You sound like a raving lunatic. By the way it's college not collage. Look up the difference. Do you have access to a dictionary in the day room? Or better yet just google it. You must be a joy to be around. I feel sorry for the other residents who are forced to spend time with you.

PhysicsIsFun

Ricky says, " Democrats are not socialist and socialist are not independence, but Independent Bernie Sanders the leader of their party is a Independent running as a democrat with a socialist agenda." [sic] Is this your point Ricky? It is pretty hard to understand just what it is you're trying to say. I am not qualified in deciphering the ungrammatical musing of a lunatic. Maybe you could get a "friend" to help you write just what it is you are trying to say in standard English. Then we could all marvel at your brilliance. While you make guesses at all of our shortcomings, we see yours in plain sight on here everyday.

Redwall

He is a Bush republican. Hardly conservative.

PhysicsIsFun

So how is it you define a conservative? Gerson is a Republican with many conservative views. He is just not an idiot. So I guess he is not on your team.

capedcrusader

Physics - These are the same people who didn't think John McCain was a conservative. There is no getting through to them...

martian2

" By all the evidence, Trump is an anti-Muslim bigot." Well that is the understatement of the year. And the right wingers like new2 justify it by using the whataboutism argument again. The column is about Trump and his hatred toward Muslims, and putting the life of a congress woman at risk because of his taunts. Sad what this country has become, sadder still is so many thrive on that hate and try to justify it.

Climatehoax

You can love Muslims all you want,! People with a sense of decency know better. They raped 10 year old girls to death. Any bare skin is an invitation to rape. They kill LBGT people. Not all Muslims are terrorists but 99.9 of terrorists are Muslims. Blinds dye their hair black because blonds are preferred rape victims. You are an infidel if you don’t believe, and you should be killed. They post videos on how to beat your wife. Their religion is evil and hateful and it killed over 3000 in one fell swoop in NY. Muslims are dangerous for religious freedom. Everyone’s religious freedom ends at the tip of my nose or when your religious freedom kills other people.

oldhomey

Climate, you are a poster boy for evil that Trump and the tea party have sowed in our society. If there are many more of you, collectively you will become their Frankenstein's monster, a horror let loose all innocent people.

oldhomey

"a horror let loose on all innocent people."

martian2

hoaxer is being spoon fed garbage from some right wing sight and he slurps up and savors every word. He sure is a good representative of the dark side of humanity and how twisted one individual can get. Now he is babbling about someone named "Holley". Seems his illness is getting worse, and he is drowning in his own self hate. You would think the tribune would bar him as he does not abide by the rules they established.

Redwall

OldFoney is just angry we arent yet paying for his "free" health care and diapers. Pay no attention.

capedcrusader

Are 99.9 % of the domestic terrorists also Muslims?

PhysicsIsFun

Two of the people I admire the most are Muslims. They are both pediatricians and do more good everyday than you have done in your entire life. Do not condemn an entire people because of the actions of religious fundamentalists.

oldhomey

Good. I seem to have hurt Red's feelings a bit. It may not make him think, but at least he may know what it is like to be the object of the sort of disparagement that he so freely dispenses on others.

martian2

If 99.99% of the terrorists are Muslims, then where does that leave those immigrants on the southern border? Trump said they were terrorists, so did Hoaxer, but that can't be, 99.99% of terrorists are Muslim. The southern immigrants are not Muslim! So someone is lying here. either Trump is lying and/or Hoaxer is lying. Two professional liars like that makes it easy to see both of them are big fat liars!

new2Lax

I guess Trump must not approve of the terrorism perpetrated on the American people by Muslims, he must not support their idea of killing gays as they do, he must not support the killing of all gentiles which these terrorists suggest is in the Koran as they understand it. He don’t support these things and I wouldn’t either and it sounds a little like you may be okay with them. The idea these people have is, if you are not an Islamic, you don’t deserve to live, who would support anyone holding those views. I guess what this Congress woman said is on her, Trump din’t say it, it was on every news outlet out there. This Congress woman has been chastised before for anti Israel comments. Congress man Scalise was shot by a left leaning nut and he said nothing disparaging at all. I guess death threats come with the territory, unless you know they are made just on Democrats. You can only imagine the death threats Trump’s supporters receive. Maybe you are not aware of the lefts outbursts at Berkeley and other institutions against those supporting Conservatives. Get a grip.

Redwall

What exactly is "all the evidence"?

oldhomey

Well, good for Red, for once! He seems in his 11:13pm post to be demanding from new2 the "evidence" that new2 has to back up his silly statements in new2.s 7:55am post. Believe me, Red, there is no evidence whatsoever to help out new2 on this.

Jobaba

Yes, I am semi-conscious and I have noticed the attack on religion. Ever since the Enlightenment when people put aside old tribal superstitions and opted for fact based and reason guided decisions. However, that is not the point of this editorial, nor is it to display tired old criticisms of the left. The point is simple: today we lock up their religion, tomorrow yours. It becomes easier as we go along. The first sentence speaks of norms. They are not legalities, but age old traditions that complete the fabric of our democracy. An example would be Trump's criticism of John McCain for being a POW. He did not strike out because of McCain's policies or votes. He struck at McCain for being a POW. And striking out at POW's has long been a norm we did not break. Until now. Perhaps our wounded in action should also be criticized as we peel away our sense of shared decency contained in our norms? No newt, you passed up a chance to write something meaningful in your eagerness to propagandize. Yes religion has lost it's magic hold over the people and norm breakers like Trump are making it easier and easier for people to come forward and speak out. So live with it, the rest of us do.

new2Lax

Well if you want to bring in changes to norms, how about the sexual revolution, acceptance of drugs, acceptance of the LGBT community, wasn’t to long ago this subject was taboo. Trump never liked John McCain or his policies prior to his comment and apparently McCain felt the same way about Trump. McCain tried to get as many people to support the dossier as possible, he knew how it would hurt Trump. He also told Trump he had his vote on rejecting the Affordable Care Act and then voted against it, the deciding vote. So this tet for tat between Trump and McCain is hardly an example of what has changed and has little to do with religious persecution in this country. You can see it with the disrespect for the flag, the office of the President and to many others to mention. Look what you can say or present on TV, unbelievable but the real kicker is the attack on religious institutions and what they stand for.

oldhomey

What a novel but welcome situation to be in, when I can concur with cran and his fulsome praise of you, Jo.

oldhomey

"with crank and his fulsome praise of you, Jo".

crank

Well said, Jobaba!

new2Lax

If you are semi conscious you may have noticed the attack on religion already. This has been going on for decades with the left constantly demonizing religion. The attacks by the left on particularly the Catholic religion, Little Sister’s of the poor, and any religious group wanting exemptions from acting in a manner contrary to their beliefs. If you have heard of Bill Maher, you know what goes on with the left and their views on religion, many on the left are ardent supporters of Maher and appear with regularity on this program and support his views. The left will not support the death penalty for murderers, rapists etc but they do support abortion from the first week up until the child is born. It would not surprise me if there is a request to extend the timeline to kindergarten. Who would have ever thought this could happen to an child after being born. To me this act is the most egregious attack and it supports the attack on religions like no other. The left is constantly in shock about the treatment of illegals being held and turn their heads at abortion’s cruelty. Makes no sense to me.

capedcrusader

You know what doesn't make sense to me? The fact that you constantly make excuses for that poor excuse of a President, Donald Trump. You always point the fingers elsewhere. Try getting with reality and leave the martini's behind.

oldhomey

new2, among the "norms" that the framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights aspired to were a society that gave equal opportunity to all, and protection from abuse by the majority against minorities. If you are semi-conscious, you would realize that recent efforts on the political front to re-affirm religious freedom for all -- including Muslims and atheists -- and the rights of gays and transgenders to live their lives openly and to fall in love with consenting partners of their choice are simply the extension of the America's most sacred norms. The same is true for the rights of women, who do not think the government has a right to tell them what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.

Bill Maher is an entertainer, just like Sean Hannity. People who are serious about the directions this country is taking politically do not look to entertainers for their political guidance and wisdom. Apparently you did not know that.

martian2

oh my, new2 the great humanitarian is all up in arms. The Catholic church has brought on much ridicule to itself because of the corruption and cover ups over the years. they have no one to blame but themselves. Bill Marher is a no starter, he speaks for himself not for the entire left wing, duh! And you abortion statement infanticide is ridiculous again. You keep repeating the same lie over and over, and its still a lie and always will be. What makes no sense is you want to control women's choice to suit your political agenda. We all know how little you actually care for you fellow humans.

awol2009

Donald tRump is not only a threat to religious freedom, he , and his sick, Alt-Right "Christian" haters are a threat to humanity. Their cult's ambition is to make America only white again and reverse all social and civil progress many have fought and died for in our country. It's about crass cruelty, corruption, greed, bigotry, and just plain sick hate. tRump thrives on this message every time he opens his mouth. Only twisted, sick minds condone and allow such behaviour tRump displays and conveys with his incessant lies, deceit, ignorance and cruelty.

oldhomey

Amen, awol.

martian2

perfectly stated awol, not get ready for the whataboutisms from the dark side of humanity.

Rick Czeczok

Wow you sound like God himself. No wonder Old Homely follows you around like a whipped puppy. Dumber and dumbest.

martian2

thank you Ricky boy for the compliment. However I am not God himself or herself, I am just little old me. I try to reflect the will of God, his words and his actions, not always successful. But at least I try. You could use a few lessons on that subject, there is hope for you, not sure how much though.

capedcrusader

Not much.

crank

No... no... "demigod". [lol]

oldhomey

Did you ever get it straightened out in your head, crank, the difference between demigod and demagogue? It would be useful for you to do so in the context of much of what is debated politically these days.

crank

More importantly, old dummy, did you and your sockpuppet get it figured out? #amenmartian [rolleyes]

oldhomey

We never were confused by the two words, crank, but obviously you are. We used the word demigod, and you were the one who decided "demagogue" was more appropriate. It was not. Demigod it is. At least "would-be demigod" in relation to Trump. Do you always get confused like this?

crank

Mmmm hmmm, whatever, dumdum. [rolleyes]

oldhomey

Gosh, crank, you are beginning to become the equal of Ricky and A Veteran (of no known military unit) in your penetrating, intelligent responses.

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