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Donald Trump wants the American government to shut down mosques, register American Muslims in a database and, as of Monday, ban all Muslim immigrants from entering the United States.
Many voters, particularly American Muslims, therefore fear the prospect of Trump occupying the Oval Office.
But not me.
I am increasingly convinced that Trump is crazy like a fox. The GOP frontrunner–who said in 2011 that “most most Muslims are wonderful people”–now says whatever he needs to say to grab headlines and titillate the GOP base. Muslims might simply be a means to an end: higher poll numbers.
In the end, though, the former host of The Apprentice would almost certainly not win a general election. Even if he did win, a little thing called the U.S. Constitution would prevent Trump from slapping golden crescents on the shirtsleeves of Muslim Americans.
Hence, Donald Trump doesn't scare me.
But you know who does? Florida senator Marco Rubio.
He's easily the best politician in the GOP field. The 44 year-old Cuban-American son of a bartender, Rubio has youth, eloquence, a photogenic family and a rags-to-riches life story. In many ways, he's the Republican version of Barack Obama.
But unlike President Obama and even George W. Bush, Rubio apparently has a problem with Islam.
When a reporter asked the Florida senator about Hillary Clinton's reluctance to say that America is at war with "radical Islam" last month, he objected.
"I don't understand it," Rubio said on This Week. "That would be like saying we weren't at war with the Nazis, because we were afraid to offend some Germans who may have been members of the Nazi Party, but weren't violent themselves."
According to Rubio's logic (and I use the word "logic" liberally), a peaceful Muslim is like a peaceful Nazi while a Muslim terrorist is like a violent Nazi. Thus, being a member of the Islamic faith today is like being a member of the Nazi Party during World War II.
The obvious problem with this analogy is that the Nazi Party, as understood by the vast majority of its followers, was inherently racist and violent whereas Islam, as understood by the vast majority of its followers, is tolerant and peaceful.
Although Rubio could have improved his World War II analogy by equating being a Muslim today with being a German then, he did not do so. Even that metaphor would have suffered from fatal flaws. After all, the Nazis actually led, represented and controlled the German nation. Terrorists represent no one but themselves. Also, Nazis actually won 43% of the German vote in the last election held before Hitler took absolute control.
There is no reason to think that ISIS could win a free election in the territory it controls, much less the broader Muslim world.
So: did Rubio flub his Nazi metaphor or did he mean exactly what he said? Well, consider the fact that Marco Rubio is no Donald Trump. He doesn't say crazy things to get attention. Nor is Rubio like Ben Carson. He doesn't say stupid things on accident.
Although Rubio often seems like the political equivalent of a beauty queen–heavy on rhetoric, light on depth–he speaks deliberately, coherently and eloquently.
To him, being a peaceful Muslim really is like being a peaceful Nazi. Rubio, like terrorists, also believes that the west is locked in a civilizational death match with a large number of Muslims.
"We are at war with radical Islam, with an interpretation of Islam by a significant number of people around the world, who they believe now justifies them in killing those who don't agree with their ideology," Rubio said on This Week. "This is a clash of civilizations."
Rubio coined an even scarier phrase during his speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition last week: “Today, Israel stands on the front lines of our civilizational struggle against radical, apocalyptic Islam."
This is not a unique sentiment among Republicans, who love to both say "radical Islam" and criticize those who refuse to do so. According to Republicans, America must properly identify its enemy with the title "radical Islam" in order the defeat said enemy.
But I suspect that Rubio and his fellow candidates insist on saying "radical Islam" because they want to get as close as they can to criticizing Islam itself without crossing the line of political correctness.
After all, how many GOP candidates used the phrase "Christian terrorism" after a white Christian man lamenting "baby parts" shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic last month?
Rubio didn't even want to call that attack terrorism.
First, he responded by discussing the need for improved mental health services, completely ignoring the anti-abortion elephant in the room. When a reporter later pressed Rubio about whether the Planned Parenthood attack was terrorism, just like the San Bernadino shooting, the normally-eloquent senator stretched the outer limits of logic by trying to say otherwise.
"They [the Planned Parenthood shooter] obviously terrorized and killed people, but the pathology of that attack is probably more mental illness in a deranged individual,” Rubio said. “These individuals in California were motivated by an ideological belief in radical Islam. Terrible tragedies both ways but different motivations behind them represent different challenges to our country."
But what should scare Muslim voters even more than Rubio’s hilarious hypocrisy is his campaign slogan, "A New American Century." It bears remarkable similarity to the "Project for the New American Century," a think-tank founded in 1997 by neoconservatives who later used 9/11 as a launching pad encourage, plan and execute the Iraq War, which has brought untold suffering to the Muslim world.
Bottom line: many of the GOP candidates have expressed varying levels of hostility towards Muslims. Although Rubio's anti-Islam rhetoric seems tame compared to some of his fellow candidates, few of them stand a chance of beating Hillary Clinton.
This is why I'm not afraid of Trump, who (probably) can't win a general election. I'm only afraid of Rubio, who almost certainly can. But first, he has to win the GOP primary.
Anyone know where can I find a Trump 2016 bumper sticker?
Edward Mitchell is an attorney who serves as Copy Editor of AtlantaMuslim.com and previously worked as a freelance reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Islamic Community Center of Atlanta. Edward received his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College and his graduate degree from Georgetown University Law Center, where he served as president of the law school's Muslim Students Association. Follow him on Twitter @edmovie.
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