For months Donald Trump has campaigned for president by spouting the most outrageous and offensive statements. Despite that, his support from the American public has only increased. However, on Thursday night it wasn’t what Donald Trump said that sparked outraged but rather what he did not say.
In front of an audience of approximately 3,000, which was televised by MSNBC Donald Trump declined to correct a question from an audience member who stated that President Obama was a Muslim.
“We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American,” the audience member stated. “We have training camps growing where they want to kill us. My question: When can we get rid of them?”
While many pundits are concentrating on Trump’s lack of correction regarding President Obama’s faith and citizenship status, the real issue is the fact that Trump answered to the question with “We are going to be looking at a lot of different things”.
On national television Donald Trump insinuated that he is looking at options on how to best “get rid of” Muslims. He advocated for cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing. As a survivor of the Serbian ethnic cleansing and genocide campaigns which plagued Bosnia and Herzegovina throughout the early 90’s, I wasn’t only offended but was frightened.
When the supporters of Donald Trump pose these questions and when he, a presidential candidate, fails to address the implication of such questions; the only thing that we have left is to fear. It’s not unknown that negative perceptions of Muslims have only increased in America and that Islamophobic attacks have continuously been on the rise. These particular questions only further showcase the hate towards the American Muslim population.
Prior to the war in Bosnian beginning Slobodan Milosevic garnered support from the general public through outrageous comments and public support of ethnic cleansing. These words that Milosevic used to spout quickly turned into an almost 5 year genocidal campaign in which over 150,000 people lost their lives. It’s quite easy for words to turn into action, especially when those words are fueled by hate, racism, ethnocentrism, and nationalism.
For a survivor of genocide, Donald Trump’s support of the questioner’s comments only served as a reminder that we have learned very little from the pages of history.