by Charles M. Blow
There seems to be no bottom to the cesspool of Islamophobic rhetoric coming from Republican candidates.
The tone of anti-Muslim musings post-Paris attack has become so poisonous that it cannot portend anything positive.
In the latest, the Republican front-runner said the United States would have “absolutely no choice” but to close some mosques. And, when asked by a reporter, he seemed to suggest he wouldn’t have a problem registering Muslims, which many have condemned, comparing it to the way Jews were once treated. (After heavy bipartisan criticism, he tried to walk back his remarks about the registry.)
And then Dr. Ben Carson drew a tortured parallel between Syrian refugees, who are mostly Muslim, and “a rabid dog running around your neighborhood.”
Robert McCaw, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told Al Jazeera that Carson’s remarks were “unthinkable,” saying, “There is only one thing you do with a rabid dog — and that’s put it down.”
Indeed, this is the problem with reckless, racist rhetoric: Each utterance tosses one more log onto the bonfire that can burn out a space for the unimaginable.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. warned in his 1967 “The Other America” speech: “Racism is evil because its ultimate logic is genocide.” As King put it:
“If one says that I am not good enough to live next door to him; if one says that I am not good enough to eat at a lunch counter, or to have a good, decent job, or to go to school with him merely because of my race, he is saying consciously or unconsciously that I do not deserve to exist.”
Whereas these candidates may not be conscious of this “ultimate logic” or in any way approve of it, it doesn’t make their language any less dangerous when it lands on the ears of the minorities on the margins, or those looking for a reason to gussy up their wrongheadedness with righteousness.