Trump the Islamophobic Trendsetter?

In a commentary today on the domestic political fallout from the terrorist attacks in Paris, Greg Sargent notes that in a field of candidates sounding more shrill every day in tying together Islamophobia and nativism, it’s Donald Trump who really does seem to be leading the way, going so far as to suggest that certain mosques in this country may have to be closed. And that leads to this ominous thought:

There’s been a lot of talk to the effect that the attacks will hurt the likes of Trump because Republican voters may now look to the candidates with governing experience, rather than the outsiders who are putting on a very good show. But this may underestimate the willingness of Trump to exploit the attacks to bolster the broader xenophobic tale he’s telling, and, perhaps, the degree to which that might resonate with his supporters. And one key tell will be whether the other candidates gravitate in Trump’s direction as he does so.

They already have in a general way. I would never have guessed that Jeb Bush would so quickly and conspicuously abandon his own brother’s insistence on protecting the rights of Muslims by calling for a religious test for Syrian refugees. You sure a Ben Carson or a Ted Cruz–or maybe even The Establishment’s Last Hope, Marco Rubio–isn’t going to go right over the brink one fine day and call for closing “radical” mosques? I’m not.

The “party of religious freedom,” indeed!

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.