Ignorance is dangerous. Indeed, it can lead like-minded people down the path of hatred, quickly and without pause. The messaging of “us versus them,” whether referring to republicans versus democrats, rich versus poor, Christian versus Muslim, homosexual versus heterosexual, or Caucasian versus black, does little to unite a country enriched and enlivened by the diversity of its citizens. Rather, such rhetoric only serves to further deepen seeds of intolerance and misunderstanding, planted at home, at houses of worship, and within communities lead by those without knowledge of facts, love, or history.
Leaders of our country have a moral–and ethical–obligation to embrace the bedrock that this country was built upon, diversity. Sadly, some running for our country’s highest office don’t think that words matter, at least not much. They make outlandish statements only to garner press coverage, pander to the extreme right, or stoke the flames of fear. Year after year it is reported that American students do poorly in history and geography, compared with students from around the world. It appears that too many Americans have forgotten the reasons our forefathers settled this country. Perhaps they’ve also forgotten the single minded racism, hatred and intolerance that was central to the success of the Nazi party.
Or, frighteningly, maybe they haven’t.
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Call it Trumpism, an ad-hoc term for the cresting wave of white Republican resentment that Donald Trump has been surfing like Duke Kahanamoku. Some find it fascinating. Late-night comics like Stephen Colbert have been treating it like it’s hilarious.
But a lot of people take Mr. Trump completely seriously, and support him fervently. So when do we start being frightened for this country?
A poll came out today. It’s just one poll in one Southern state, North Carolina, by one polling outfit (Public Policy Polling, or PPP) with Democratic Party ties, asking questions of a few hundred Republican primary voters.
But still, these results:
“Do you think a Muslim should ever be allowed to be President of the United States, or not?
A Muslim should be allowed to be President of the United States: 16 percent
A Muslim should not be allowed to be President of the United States: 72 percent
Not sure: 12 percent”
“Do you think the religion of Islam should be legal or illegal in the United States?
Islam should be legal in the United States: 40 percent
Islam should be illegal in the United States: 40 percent
Not sure: 20 percent”
Do these people know what it means to outlaw Muslim worship? Do they teach history in the North Carolina schools? Do they know what would happen if we closed mosques, arrested worshipers and prayer leaders, imposed religious tests for public office? Are these overwrought questions, or do the ugly answers in this poll portend something seriously wrong: an outbreak of a deadly fever this country has seen many times before?
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