Will Media Give Other Republicans A Pass On Trump-Like Anti-Muslim Rhetoric?

Media figures and outlets are strongly condemning Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. But while Trump's rhetoric is extreme, it is not unique -- several other Republican candidates have extreme anti-Muslim rhetoric without receiving such “universal condemnation,” as The New Republic noted.

Media Criticize Donald Trump For Proposal To Ban Muslims From Entering The US ...

NBC News' Richard Engel: “This Is Really Not The Country I Know.” On the December 7 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, NBC News correspondent Richard Engel stated, “This is really not the country that I know,” saying that Trump's proposal is “a black spot on our collective foreign policy and our conscience” that “feeds into the ISIS narrative”:

RACHEL MADDOW (HOST): Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump speaking tonight with my friend Greta Van Susteren on the Fox News Channel. Joining us now is NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel. Richard, it's great to have you here.

RICHARD ENGEL: What has happened since I last spoke to you? I was in Paris.

MADDOW: You left the country. We broke everything.

ENGEL: I came back and things have gone totally mad. The country is in a panic. There is demagoguery. This is really not the country that I know.

MADDOW: You are somebody who I know because we're friends, I know that you do not care very much about partisan politics. You're not a, like, horse race kind of guy. And I know that you can, you kind of box a lot of that stuff out when you think it's kind of small ball. But this, it seems like this concerns you. This matters.

ENGEL: This is not small ball, actually. It would be interesting to say oh this is just fun. This is just more, you know, he's trying to score a few points. But the world watches this. The world sees the leading political candidate from one party making these kind of statements and still doing well and having these rallies. And those vox pops you showed where people are saying, yes, we need to do them. Send them back home. Those are going around the world right now, and people realize this person is leading in the polls. That must be what Americans think. I was today with an ambassador from the Middle East. Today. And we were talking exactly about this subject. And he said, well, people in our country watch what is going on, and it makes us very concerned. So from the world perspective, it is absolutely an image, an impression, a black spot on our collective foreign policy and our conscience. And it also just feeds into the ISIS narrative. [MSNBC, The Rachel Maddow Show12/7/15]

New York Times' Frank Bruni: Trump “Has Given The Islamic State ... A Piece Of Propaganda As Big As Any Of His Resorts.” In a December 8 op-ed, New York Times opinion columnist Frank Bruni stated that, with the release of his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, Trump “has practically collaborated with the enemy by playing into a narrative of Muslim persecution”:

But what Trump just did took pressure off the president by redirecting the conversation from his tentativeness to Trump's insane overreach. We should tell him that, and we should add that he has practically collaborated with the enemy by playing into a narrative of Muslim persecution and a grand war between civilizations.

He has given the Islamic State and other barbarians a piece of propaganda as big as any of his resorts and as shimmering as any of his office towers. [The New York Times12/8/15]

Slate's Josh Voorhees: Donald Trump's No-Muslims-Allowed Policy Is Disgusting -- But Hardly Surprising." In a December 7 post titled “Donald Trump's No-Muslims-Allowed Policy Is Disgusting -- But Hardly Surprising,” Slate's Josh Vorhees wrote that, “The shock over Trump's proposal is certainly warranted,” considering “the Republican Party's long-time polling front-runner [is] putting forth a clearly xenophobic plan that is as disgusting as it almost certainly is unconstitutional.” [Slate, 12/7/15]

Detroit Free Press: Trump's Proposal Is An Attack On “Our Community, Our Neighbors.” On December 9 the Detroit Free Press editorial board called Trump's proposal an attack on “our community, our neighbors, the rich, diverse fabric that makes up southeast Michigan.” From the Free Press:

So when Donald Trump says America should close its borders to Muslim immigrants, he's not just attacking a fundamental American strength.

He's attacking us -- our community, our neighbors, the rich, diverse fabric that makes up southeast Michigan.


Trump's indictment of Muslims en masse is nothing more than rank bigotry and racism, a reach back to the darkest chapters of America's history and a betrayal of the founding principles of our nation. [Detroit Free Press12/9/15]

... But Are Divided Over Whether Other Republicans Deserve Similar Condemnation

BuzzFeed's Ben Smith: “Entirely Fair” To Call Trump A “Mendacious Racist” But Avoid Linking Trump's Views With “All Republicans.” A memo from BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith to his staff on the company's social media policy said, “it is ... entirely fair to call [Trump] a mendacious racist,” noting that Trump is “saying things that are false, and running an overtly anti-Muslim campaign.” However, wrote Smith, “steer away from suggesting [Trump's] views are those of all Republicans or conservatives”:

[Twitter, 12/8/15]

The New Republic: Other GOP Candidates Have Adopted Trump-Like Anti-Muslim Positions Without Same Media Condemnation. The New Republic's Brian Beutler pointed out how other Republican presidential candidates have also pushed anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies, and have “supported discriminating against Muslims in our refugee policy, and opposed the very notion of a Muslim-American president.” However, noted Beutler, none of the other candidates have been “subjecting themselves to universal condemnation”:

Trump's plan to prohibit Muslim immigration into the U.S. is indeed extreme, but to students of the Trump phenomenon and conservative politics more broadly, it was neither unexpected nor the source of any new or profound lesson.

While closing the country to foreign Muslims altogether is a radical idea relative to our founding ideals and current policy, it is but an incremental step relative to the outer bounds of legitimate debate in the GOP primary. Republican presidential candidates have supported discriminating against Muslims in our refugee policy, and opposed the very notion of a Muslim-American president, all without subjecting themselves to universal condemnation. The most surprising part of the latest Trump story is that it proves a Republican candidate can take Islamophobia too far for his party's tastes. [The New Republic12/8/15]

Republican Presidential Candidates Have Espoused Similar Anti-Muslim Rhetoric To Trump

Ted Cruz Called For The U.S. To Accept Christian Refugees While Barring Muslims. During a November 15 campaign visit to South Carolina, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) “continued to call for Muslim refugees from Syria to be barred from entering the United States but opening the borders to displaced Christians.” According to The Washington Post, Cruz said, “We need to be working to provide a safe haven for those Christians who are being persecuted and facing genocide, and at the same time we shouldn't be letting terrorists into America.” Cruz “reiterated his assertion that it is 'lunacy' to allow Muslim refugees into the United States, asserting that there is no way to know if they are aligned with the Islamic State”:

Sen. Ted Cruz Sunday continued to call for Muslim refugees from Syria to be barred from entering the United States but opening the borders to displaced Christians, arguing there is not a “meaningful risk” that Christians will commit terrorist acts.

“There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror. If there were a group of radical Christians pledging to murder anyone who had a different religious view than they, we would have a different national security situation,” Cruz (R-Tex.) told reporters in a middle school gym here.

“But it is precisely the Obama administration's unwillingness to recognize that or ask those questions that makes them so unable to fight this enemy. Because they pretend as if there is no religious aspect to this,” he said.


Cruz did not say how he would determine that refugees were Christian or Muslim. He reiterated his assertion that it is “lunacy” to allow Muslim refugees into the United States, asserting that there is no way to know if they are aligned with the Islamic State.

“We can't roll the dice with the safety of Americans and bring in people for whom there is an unacceptable risk that they could be jihadists coming here to kill Americans,” Cruz said. “We just saw in Paris what happens when a country allows ISIS terrorists to come in as refugees and the result can be a horrific loss of life,” he said, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

The assertion is a shift for Cruz, who in early 2014 told Fox News that America should allow Syrian refugees to come to the United States. Now he is saying that Muslim refugees should be resettled in majority Muslim countries in the Middle East. [The Washington Post11/15/15]

Marco Rubio Wants To Shut Down Mosques Or Any Other Place “Where Radicals Are Being Inspired.” On the November 19 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said, “Whatever facility is being used -- it's not just a mosque -- any facility that's being used to radicalize and inspire attacks against the United States, should be a place that we look at” and potentially shut down:

“It's not about closing down mosques. It's about closing down any place -- whether it's a cafe, a diner, an internet site -- any place where radicals are being inspired,” Rubio said on Fox News' The Kelly File on Thursday night when asked if he agreed with Trump. “The bigger problem we have is our inability to find out where these places are, because we've crippled our intelligence programs, both through unauthorized disclosures by a traitor, in Edward Snowden, or by some of the things this president has put in place with the support even of some from my own party to diminish our intelligence capabilities.”

“So whatever facility is being used -- it's not just a mosque -- any facility that's being used to radicalize and inspire attacks against the United States, should be a place that we look at,” he continued. [ThinkProgress, 11/20/15]

Jeb Bush: The United States “Should Focus Our Efforts As It Relates To The Refugees For The Christians That Are Being Slaughtered.” Appearing on CNN's State of the Union on November 15, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called for “focus[ing] our efforts as it relates to refugees on the Christians that are being slaughtered,” excluding Muslim refugees, saying that, “there are a lot of Christians in Syria that have no place now”:

JAKE TAPPER (HOST): We have breaking news this morning. As you heard from Christiane Amanpour, according to French authorities, at least one of the Islamist terrorists smuggled into France amongst refugees from Syria. There are Syrian refugees coming into the United States right now. Clearly there is a heart-breaking humanitarian imperative at stake, but what would you do as president, given this new information?

JEB BUSH: Well, I think we need to lead as it relates to taking action in Syria and Iraq to eradicate ISIS from the face of the Earth. That should be our first and foremost responsibility. But as it relates to the refugees, I think we need to do thorough screening and take a limited number. But ultimately, the best way to deal with the refugee crisis is to create safe zones inside of Syria so that people don't risk their lives, and you don't have what will be a national security challenge, both for our country and Europe, of screening. In addition to that, Jake, I'd say that there are a lot of Christians in Syria that have no place now. They'll be either executed or imprisoned, either by Assad or by ISIS. And I think we should have -- we should focus our efforts as it relates to the refugees for the Christians that are being slaughtered.

TAPPER: How does the United States -- how do screeners tell which refugees are Christian and which ones are not?

BUSH: Well, we do that all the time. We do that -- it takes almost a year for a refugee to be processed into the United States. I think we need to be, obviously, very, very cautious. This also calls to mind the need to make sure we protect our borders, our southern border particularly. We need to focus on counterintelligence capabilities that have been weakened when the PATRIOT Act was reauthorized. This is a warning for our country that this threat is not going to go away. This is a threat against Western civilization, and we need to lead. The United States has pulled back, and when we pull back, voids are filled. And they're filled now by Islamic terrorism that threatens our country. [CNN, State of the Union11/15/15]

Chris Christie Advocated Against Accepting Syrian Refugees, Including “Orphans Under Five.” During a November 16 interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he would not accept Syrian Muslim refugees in the U.S., not even “orphans under five.” Christie also suggested that “any” Syrian refugee “could be connected to terrorism”:

“I do not trust this administration to effectively vet the people who are proposed to be coming in,” the New Jersey governor and presidential hopeful said in an interview Monday with radio host Hugh Hewitt.

When asked if he would make an exception for “orphans under the age of five,” Christie said no.

“The fact is that we need appropriate vetting,” he continued, "and I don't think orphans under five are being, you know, should be admitted into the United States at this point. But you know, they have no family here. How are we going to care for these folks?


On Tuesday, Christie wrote to President Barack Obama calling on him to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S. and informing the president that New Jersey would not accept any.

“I cannot allow New Jersey to participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees -- any one of whom could be connected to terrorism -- being placed in our State,” Christie wrote in a letter to Obama. [CNN, 11/17/15]

Ben Carson: An American President Should Be “Sworn In On A Stack Of Bibles, Not A Koran.” On the September 20 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.” In a follow-up interview with The Hill, Carson doubled down, stating, “I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country” and that he would only make an exception if a Muslim running for office “publicly rejected all the tenants of Sharia”:

Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson is standing by his view that a Muslim should not be president of the United States, telling The Hill in an interview on Sunday that whoever takes the White House should be “sworn in on a stack of Bibles, not a Koran.”


“I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country,” Carson said. “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that's inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”

Carson said that the only exception he'd make would be if the Muslim running for office “publicly rejected all the tenants of Sharia and lived a life consistent with that.”

“Then I wouldn't have any problem,” he said.

However, on several occasions Carson mentioned “Taqiya,” a practice in Shia Islam in which a Muslim can mislead nonbelievers about the nature of their faith to avoid persecution.

“Taqiya is a component of Shia that allows, and even encourages you to lie to achieve your goals,” Carson said. [The Hill9/20/15]

Ben Carson: Protecting America From Syrian Refugees Is Like Protecting Children From “A Rabid Dog.” During a November 19 campaign stop in Alabama, Ben Carson compared the need to protect America from Syrian refugees to "[putting] your children out of the way" of “a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood”:

“If there's a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you're probably not going to assume something good about that dog,” Carson said during a campaign stop in Alabama. “And you're probably going to put your children out of the way. That doesn't mean that you hate all dogs.”

He added, “But you're going to put your intellect into motion and you're thinking, 'How do I protect my children at the same time? ... I'm going to call the humane society and hopefully they can come and take this dog away and create a safe environment once again.'” [CNN, 11/19/15]