No, Donald Trump is not a racist because he is concerned about illegal immigration. Neither is Donald Trump a fascist because he believes radical mosques ought to receive greater scrutiny. Those are not the reasons I don’t favor him as the Republican nominee for president. I have deeper reasons.
I’ve written before about what I consider to be Trump’s iffy conversion to conservative policy positions, his supreme arrogance with respect to how much money he has, his assurances that all will be right with the world because he’s so good at making “deals,” and his demeaning attitude toward any other candidate who threatens his poll numbers.
I’ve also been put off by his undisciplined manner of speaking that has led to making some truly absurd statements, none of which have yet come back to derail him, but should have.
His latest claim is demonstrably false, yet many of his conservative supporters are making excuses for him once again. Let me quote Trump—his words unaltered—earlier this week:
Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.
Now, there certainly were Muslim extremists in America who rejoiced over 9/11. That’s not the point. Trump is claiming that he saw, with his own eyes, “thousands and thousands” in Jersey City “cheering” as the buildings fell.
Only one problem: there is no video of any such rejoicing by those thousands in that city. No Jersey City official can back him up. The current governor, Chris Christie, has no recollection of this. In fact, no one saw it. Why? Maybe it’s because it never occurred. By continuing to insist that it did, Trump has put himself in some rather disreputable company:
Jim Geraghty of National Review wrote yesterday that when he called Trump out on this falsehood, Trump supporters sent him videos of what they said was evidence of Trump’s truthfulness—Muslims celebrating 9/11. The problem? The videos were of Palestinians rejoicing in Jerusalem. Geraghty was amazed how they never even bothered to check where that celebration took place. For those with Geography Deficit Disorder, Jerusalem is not Jersey City.
Then there’s been a rush to defend Trump because of a Washington Post report from September 18, 2001, that his supporters say validates Trump’s remembrance. That report stated,
In Jersey City, within hours of two jetliners’ plowing into the World Trade Center, law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.
As Geraghty correctly notes,
Police questioning “a number of people” after reports of celebrations is not the same as “thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down”, an event that Trump contended was televised and was “well-covered at the time.”
It’s time to be honest: Trump was shooting from the lip when he made his statement. There is no truth in what he said. What bothers me even more than Trump’s lack of integrity is the willingness of those who should know better to defend the indefensible.
Trump is taking the Republican party for a ride, and it’s more than a little scary to me.
Trump may win the nomination. Trump could conceivably win the presidency. While anything would be better than a Hillary Clinton presidency, a Trump victory might be the second worst scenario because he could bury Republicans once and for all.
I know there are some in my readership who would like to see that happen. However, going forward something would have to replace the Republicans in order for Democrats not to become ultimately triumphant. Can we reasonably expect a Phoenix to rise out of the ashes of the utter destruction of the Republican party?
Some people, I fear, are far too optimistic that a pure, undiluted conservatism grounded in Biblical principles will come to the forefront. While I would welcome that development, there is the basic truth that all political parties are coalitions of different groups with different emphases. Currently, Christian conservatives still have a strong voice within the Republican party. I’m not yet ready to surrender that voice.
Meanwhile, I will continue to warn Christians, conservatives, and particularly Christian conservatives, to beware the Trump mystique. His penchant for saying whatever he wants, his unwillingness ever to admit to a mistake, and his basic lack of integrity should be more than enough to move us toward a better candidate.