Home > Right-Wing Extremism > Somewhere Along the Line, This Stopped Being So Funny

Somewhere Along the Line, This Stopped Being So Funny

September 18th, 2015

When Kim Davis was jailed for contempt of court after she refused to carry out her legal duties and denied gay couples the ability to exercise their right to be married, her lawyer, Matthew Staver, said:

“What happened in Nazi Germany?” Staver asked on Crossfire, a current affairs program hosted by the Christian Information Radio network. “First, they removed the Jews from government public employment, then they stopped patronizing them in their private businesses, then they continued to stigmatize them, then they were the ‘problems,’ then they killed them.”

A few days later, he followed that up with a similar statement on a right-wing radio show:

“Back in the 1930s, it began with the Jews, where they were evicted from public employment, then boycotted in their private employment, then stigmatized and that led to the gas chambers. This is the new persecution of Christians here in this country.”

As I pointed out when this happened, Staver was ludicrously wrong—although millions of conservative Christians believe it to be literally true.

As it happens, however, something along the lines of 1930’s Germany is happening in the United States right now. However, it’s not liberals putting Christians in jail.

Read this exchange between the front-runner for the GOP, and one of his supporters at a rally:

To kick things off, Trump pointed at a man in the audience: “Okay, this man. I like this guy.”

“We have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims,” the man said. “We know our current president is one. You know, he’s not even an American. Birth certificate, man.”

“Right,” Trump said, then adding with a shake of his head: “We need this question? This first question.”

“But any way,” the man said. “We have training camps… where they want to kill us.”

“Uh huh,” Trump said.

“That’s my question: When can we get rid of them?” the man said.

Naturally, Trump immediately saw this as a red flag, and warned his followers off of that particular dangerous line of thought.

No, of course, I’m kidding. Trump did no such thing. Responding to the statement in which Muslims in America were defined as murderous and “a problem” followed by a query as to how we “get rid of them,” Trump responded:

“We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things. You know, a lot of people are saying that, and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We’re going to look at that and plenty of other things.”

Now, Trump is not being like Hitler or anything; his reply is a generalized, content-free, non-committal reply intended to appease the questioner without really saying anything. However, for a public official, indeed the front-runner for national leader, is presented with an almost unveiled question regarding what is essentially a call for ethnic cleansing, to respond positively in any manner is disastrously, almost criminally irresponsible.

While I still believe that Trump cannot possibly win the presidency, while I still see him as a joke who usefully exposes the radical nature of the conservative base, I am becoming less and less comfortable with his candidacy. I hate to make this kind of analogy, but Hitler also was seen early on as a buffoon, an amateur, easily mocked and dismissed. Nor am I the only one to see uncomfortable parallels. As I just wrote, I do not see Trump as being like Hitler; he is more of an opportunist, jumping on the bandwagon to create a power base. However, his followers are beginning to sound eerily like those who followed any number of genocidal dictators.

As a result, this isn’t as funny as it used to be.

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  1. Tim Kane
    October 3rd, 2015 at 17:06 | #1

    Muslims are not the problem.

    Islam however is a problem, if you recognize that it is a political ideology that just happens to have a religious component.

    Islam, as a political ideology will advance itself as a religion, and as a religion will advance itself as a political ideology.

    Islam appears to be a political ideology as much or more than a religion. Islam, by definition, conflates politics with religion, and by definition is authoritarian in thought. We should be debating, at the very least the significance of this.

  2. Luis
    October 3rd, 2015 at 17:57 | #2

    I think that all types of fundamentalism are a problem; fundamentalist Islam is a different kind than fundamentalist Christian, but both are threats, just in different ways.

    The thing is, that has exactly nothing at all to do with the Muslims the Trump supporter was talking about.

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