Early on Wednesday morning, Donald Trump retweeted three graphically anti-Muslim videos—one entitled “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!,” the second entitled “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” and the third entitled “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!”—posted by British First leader Jayda Fransen, a woman convicted last year by a British court of harassing a woman wearing a hijab.
None of this should come as a surprise. Trump has been associating with anti-Muslim bigots, and parroting their arguments, since before he launched his presidential campaign. In May 2015, a month before he entered the race, Trump journeyed to Iowa to speak at a forum hosted by Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy (CSP), a think tank that specializes in in arguing that devout Muslims cannot be loyal Americans because Islamic law, or Sharia, violates the Constitution. During his speech, Trump mentioned that he had been chatting backstage with “some experts,” one of whom was a woman named Ann who was “so good, she was telling things that you wouldn’t even believe.” Two months earlier, Ann Corcoran had published a CSP report that urged Americans to “speak up against the opening of more mosques in your neighborhoods,” to “say no” to requests for “special Halal food section[s],” and to oppose efforts to require “local government to pay for a Muslim cemetery.” Citing Corcoran, Trump fumed that “if you come from Europe, you’re European, you’ve done great in school, you want to come, you want to come to the United States, you can’t get in, but if you’re Muslim, you can get in.” According to the Huffington Post, Trump would go on to cite “research from the Center for Security Policy dozens of times in press releases and speeches during his presidential campaign.”