Let us play a short, Friday afternoon substitution game. At a rally in New Hampshire earlier this week, Donald Trump was interrupted by a supporter who called President Obama a Muslim. This was treated as a moment of hilarity by Trump, and by the crowd. I’m publishing the exchange between Trump and this supporter below, but I’m changing two words. Read this with these two small changes, and then tell me that Donald Trump doesn’t possess certain qualities we associate with Father Coughlin and Charles Lindbergh:
Trump: "There is anger in our country. It's a positive anger. You know, a lot of people say that I am catering to it. I'm not catering. But there is anger in our country. The people are smart. The people that are representing them are either dishonest, not smart, incompetent or they have some other agenda that we don't even know about. and some of these things you think they have another agenda because you would say things that they do, deals that they make -- like the Israel deal. Who would make this deal? During, during ---
Supporter: "He's a Jew!”
Trump: (laughing): What did you say? I didn’t hear it.
Supporter: “He’s a Jew!”
Trump (smiling): “Okay. I didn’t say it. I didn't say it!" I refuse to get — oh, I'm supposed to reprimand the man? Who is the man who said that? Okay, ‘How dare you.’ (Laughter) I've reprimanded him! Now the press can't be angry. You know a lot of times they say, 'why didn't you?' Look we have a problem. We've got to solve the problem, folks.”
Imagine how a loyal, upstanding American Jew would feel at this crowded rally. You don’t have to do much imagining—American Jews, in the 1930s, were confronted, on American streets, and in American newspapers, with this sort of demonizing invective. Now imagine how a loyal, upstanding American citizen of the Muslim faith might feel today if he or she had witnessed this rally. And now, go fear for your country.