Trump Isn't The Only Politician Saying Anti-Muslim Things

Photo: Ida Mae Astute/ABC/ Getty Images.
Donald Trump has angered people at every point on the political spectrum with his incendiary comments about Muslims. A statement released by his presidential campaign on Monday announced his intention to prohibit Muslims from entering the United States if elected president, and it got him compared to both history's and fiction’s most infamous villains.

The backlash has gotten loud enough that other members of the GOP are distancing themselves from his anti-Muslim rhetoric. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan made a public statement on Tuesday calling Trump’s comments “not what this party stands for.” Ryan has made a policy of not commenting on the 2016 presidential race, but he said that Trump’s words warranted an exception. Lindsey Graham told CNN that Trump’s Islamophobia was “empowering radical Islam” by undercutting ties with peaceful Muslims. Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, also disavowed Trump’s statements, saying they challenge terrorism “at the expense of our American values.”

But Trump is not the first Republican to say bigoted or inflammatory things about Muslims, even if he's one of the few to get called out by his own party. In September, Ben Carson said that the tenets of Islam and the U.S. Constitution are incompatible, and Mike Huckabee told constituents that it was time to “wake up and smell the falafel” regarding what he purported to be connections between Islamic refugees and terrorism. Back in the 2012 election cycle, Newt Gingrich was criticized for repeatedly demonizing Muslims. And that’s not to mention the more than two dozen state governors, mostly Republican, who recently took stances against allowing Syrian refugees into the country.

Politicians have frequently employed coded language to infer that Muslim refugees would be connected to terrorism; "security concerns" are only the most recent. Syrian refugees are finding their way to the U.S. barred not because of any actual danger but because of Islamophobia that appeals to people's fears in a time of turmoil and confusion.

Political-analysis organization FiveThirtyEight reports that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to believe that Islam is prone to encourage violence among its believers, but pundits on both sides of the aisle have been heard criticizing the religion. While it's a positive sign that so many policymakers are quick to denounce Trump's statements, it's worth acknowledging that the problem isn't limited to one man's demagoguery.

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