Even before he started running for president, Donald Trump based his entire public persona on saying shocking things, then sitting back and smiling at the sputtering reactions he produced. Pretty much anyone who doesn't support him has at best dismissed him as a troll and at worst fears he may be a fascist. But either way, it's been safe to assume that nothing Trump says could surprise anyone anymore.
Then on Monday afternoon, the Trump campaign issued a press release that, amid an increasingly Islamophobic climate in the US and abroad, called for a blanket ban on any Muslim immigration—a position so starkly bigoted that the two-paragraph statement went viral on Twitter in a matter of moments. (Some users even questioned whether it was real, but it's as real as everything in this universe.)
As is often the case with official Trump pronouncements, there's a great deal left unsaid.
"Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on," the release begins, leaving it unclear what exactly Trump thinks could possibly be "going on." An infiltration of the country by ISIS that the candidate has alluded to? A hostile population of American-born Muslims?
Trump goes on to discuss the "hatred" Muslims apparently have for Americans, or America, or something. "Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine," Trump says in the statement. "Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life." How the government could "determine" the source of this alleged hatred isn't explained, nor does Trump address how he or anyone else might put a stop to it.
(UPDATE: Shortly after the statement's release, a spokesperson for Trump clarified to the Hill that this ban would hypothetically extend to current Muslim-American citizens who were traveling abroad.)
The release cites a poll from something called the Center for Security Policy that claims 25 percent of Muslims surveyed said they were OK with violence against Americans and 51 percent "agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah." Those numbers sound too awful to be true, and there's evidence that they aren't—Georgetown's Bridge Initiative, which studies Islamophobia in America, has called the poll into question and noted that the CSP's founder Frank Gaffney once accused General David Petraeus, of all people, of "submission" to Islamic law.
While barring Muslims from coming to the US is probably the most extreme form of anti-immigrant sentiment endorsed by a major candidate this cycle, Trump is not a radical outlier on the subject. Last month, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush suggested the US only accept Syrian refugees who are Christian, and similar ideas have been banging around right-wing blogs like RedState.
Before Trump's press release, the latest CNN poll had put The Donald in the lead in Iowa, a key early voting state, though another poll that used different sampling techniques showed Cruz ahead of Trump. It's worth noting that though the campaign has been going on for months and no ballots have been cast yet, so Trump's support remains mostly hypothetical. His latest utterance shows why a lot of people in America and around the world hope it stays that way.
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