Tweets assaulting a free press, threatening to persecute an erstwhile political opponent, misogynist mocking of women, racially inflected attacks against black athletes, etc…, ect…, the moral debasement of the Office of the President of the United States is interminable in the Age of Trump. The better part of the nation recoils in disgust and shock but moves on until the next outrage. We should never grow used to this: This is the president, this is state-sanctioned defamation, and this is not normal.
The president’s latest target is an old favorite: Muslims. Last Wednesday morning, Trump retweeted three anti-Muslims videos posted by a far-right British nationalist group. The videos – titled “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” and “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off a roof and beats him to death!” – include a putative snuff film, a new milestone for Trump. The accuracy of the low-quality videos is contested. There is nothing to prove that the individuals are Muslims. No matter. By now it’s obvious that Trump’s core base lives in an alternate reality where “Truth” is whatever the president says it is. Moreover, his audience already dislikes Muslims and will parrot any slander against the community.
In sharing the videos, Trump threatens to stoke anti-Muslim animus, which may lead to violent attacks against individuals perceived to be Muslim. Spreading fear of Muslims (which the Republican Party appears increasingly fond of) would also buttress support for the president’s proposed Muslim Ban.
The purpose of circulating such videos is to present a putative (nefarious) Muslim as the representative of an entire people. This isn’t about national security and military spending, as the president’s undignified spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders incredulously claimed, but outright bigotry and the hallmark of racist agitators. It was no surprise that white supremacist David Duke immediately took to Twitter to praise the anti-Muslim tweets for his ilk mastered the smear tactic: promoting articles featuring alleged black criminals and anti-Semitic canards to put the fear of all black and Jewish people in the White Man’s heart.
For Duke, the video of a purported Muslim attacking a reportedly disabled Dutch child in the Netherlands “proves” his propaganda that Muslims (and other non-Whites and non-Christians) embody a threat to Westerners and should be expelled from the West. There is no reason to give Trump the benefit of the doubt and assume he does not harbor the same views. That video, for the record, was a fake and the Dutch Embassy in Washington rebuked the president.
Such vulgarity not only undermines national purpose and unity, but it further erodes whatever residual respect there is left for U.S. global leadership. Trump’s retweet of a British fringe group was rebuked by the UK’s leadership, the New York Times reported.
The office of Theresa May, the British prime minister, said, “It is wrong for the president to have done this.”
In a statement, the office also said of the far-right party Britain First, for which Ms. Fransen is the deputy: “Britain First seeks to divide communities by their use of hateful narratives that peddle lies and stoke tensions. They cause anxiety to law-abiding people.”
David Lammy, a member of Parliament for the Labour Party, echoed that statement on Twitter. “Trump sharing Britain First. Let that sink in. The President of the United States is promoting a fascist, racist, extremist hate group whose leaders have been arrested and convicted. He is no ally or friend of ours.” […]
Chuka Umunna, a Labour Party member of Parliament, wrote on Twitter that an invitation for Mr. Trump to come to Britain for a state visit should be immediately withdrawn. “The US President is normalising hatred. If we don’t call this out, we are going down a very dangerous road. His invite should be withdrawn,” he wrote.
If world leaders believe our president in an unhinged, disturbed person – and late-night racist tweets fit the profile – then the word of the American president is worse than worthless.