Viewpoint

Republicans face moral choice with Trump

Rose Hamid was escorted from a Trump rally in January. Republicans must decide what they think of Trump supporters’ attitudes.
Rose Hamid was escorted from a Trump rally in January. Republicans must decide what they think of Trump supporters’ attitudes. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

My neighborhood of Chevy Chase is a peaceful slice of Northwest Washington. But this week, the news here is of a woman assaulted outside the local Starbucks by a Donald Trump supporter, she says, for being Muslim.

Police on Monday released surveillance video showing a heavyset white woman shouting at, then pouring a bottle of liquid onto, a woman in a Muslim headscarf as she sat outside the coffee shop. Police are investigating a possible hate crime.

The victim said the attacker called her a “worthless piece of Muslim trash” and a “terrorist.” And the attacker said she was supporting Trump because of his views of Muslims.

“She mentioned this man’s name to me as a way of saying he’s going to put all of you out of this country,” the woman, who asked not to be identified, told me Tuesday.

But this is her country. She’s African-American, born in Minneapolis, reared in Chicago and now living in D.C.

Trump easily won Tuesday’s Indiana primary, making him almost certainly the Republican presidential nominee. Now Republicans must make a moral choice: Do they associate themselves with the grotesque thingsTrump and his supporters have said and done? Or do they refuse to allow such things to be said and done in their names?

At the core of Trump’s candidacy has been his disparagement of many groups of people. They all should be taken into account, but let’s focus now on his denigration of Muslims.

Trump said he would implement a system to register and track Muslims in the United States and would “certainly look at” closing mosques.

He falsely said there were “thousands” cheering the collapse of the World Trade Center from New Jersey, with its “heavy Arab population.”

Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

At a rally, a Trump supporter called President Obama a Muslim and said Muslims are “a problem in this country.” Trump let both statements stand.

Muslims have been taunted outside Trump events, and at one event in South Carolina, Rose Hamid, a Charlotte woman in a hijab who stood in silent protest, was escorted out by police as Trump supporters booed her, chanted Trump’s name and suggested she was a terrorist.

Trump can’t be blamed for everything his followers do. But his ascent has coincided with a rise in the number of anti-Muslim incidents to the highest level the Council on American-Islamic Relations has ever found. A sampling from the past two months:

▪  A self-proclaimed Trump supporter was sentenced in California for making death threats outside a Muslim center and for building pipe bombs.

▪ Demonstrators claiming to be Trump supporters staged public desecrations of the Koran in Atlanta and Phoenix.

▪ A Michigan man was captured on cellphone video yelling “Trump!” and “Kill the Muslims.”

▪ And in Washington, my Chevy Chase neighbor was attacked on her way home from her county-government job when she stopped outside Starbucks to use the WiFi. She says she told the responding officers that her attacker had invoked Trump, but that detail apparently didn’t make the police report.

The victim said the liquid poured on her didn’t harm her. But the talk of Trump’s coming vengeance on Muslims scared her. “It could get a lot worse for Muslims in America,” she said. “For people here on the fence about who to vote for, maybe this will help them make that decision.”

Twitter: @Milbank.

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