The Danger of “Easy Targets”

A couple of days ago, I blogged about the environment created by political rhetoric demonizing people based upon their politics or religious beliefs. (For example, see: Trump, Donald) One consequence of that environment has been an uptick in attacks on Americans who are Muslim.

The AP reports that–in the case of anti-Muslim rhetoric, at least–the demonization is quite deliberate.

Some leading Republican presidential candidates seem to view Muslims as fair game for increasingly harsh words they might use with more caution against any other group for fear of the political cost. So far, that strategy is winning support from conservatives influential in picking the nominee….

Because Muslims are a small voting bloc, the candidates see limited fallout from what they are saying in the campaign.

The notion that Muslims are “fair game” because they are a small minority ignores the likelihood that many non-Muslims will find the tactic repellent. The article quotes Suhail Khan, who worked in George W. Bush’s administration, who said  “There’s no doubt that when specific candidates, in this case Dr. Carson and Mr. Trump, think that they can narrowly attack one specific group, other Americans of various faiths and backgrounds are paying attention.”

The Washington Post recently ran a column by the pollster Stanley Greenberg predicting a tidal wave against the GOP in 2016. Listing the data that led him to his conclusion, Greenberg shared a demographic reality:

Consider that nearly 40 percent of New York City’s residents are foreign-born, with Chinese the second-largest group behind Dominicans. The foreign-born make up nearly 40 percent of Los Angeles’s residents and 58 percent of Miami’s. A majority of U.S. households are headed by unmarried people, and, in cities, 40 percent of households include only a single person. Church attendance is in decline, and non-religious seculars now outnumber mainline Protestants. Three-quarters of working-age women are in the labor force, and two-thirds of women are the breadwinners or co-breadwinners of their households. The proportion of racial minorities is approaching 40 percent, but blowing up all projections are the 15 percent of new marriages that are interracial. People are moving from the suburbs to the cities. And in the past five years, two-thirds of millennial college graduates have settled in the 50 largest cities, transforming them.

It’s reasonable to assume that these voters will notice when candidates use bigotry against “easy targets” as a campaign strategy.

Let’s hope that “reasonable assumption”–and Greenberg’s prediction– prove true.


  1. If only they *were* all voters. Not just *registered* voters, mind you…we need ACTIVE voters.

  2. Had Germany had the good sense and the ability to block Adolph Hitler there would have been no Holocaust. IF Republicans and their staunch followers had the good sense, they would have the ability to block Donald Trump. He is advocating a 21st Century Holocaust on Muslims, currently at the head of his hate list but that list is long. Until and unless Donald Trump is stopped, the other candidates will hang onto his coat tails and lead their constituents into more terrorist attacks…some in non-violent format. (Think SCOTUS) Hate feeds on hate and Trump has it on his menu of targets, covering it with tasty looking sauces to entice voters into believing he can actually accomplish all he screeches from the podium at his rallys. And he does screech in his Hitler-like tantrums; will we learn too late to stop him that he is this country’s greatest enemy at this time? Will we realize that it is the wonderful American freedoms which allow him and the others in that clown car to forge ahead with hate the foundation of their campaign. God bless American! God HELP America!

  3. He’s describing blue dots in the sea of red. Not sure how that will play out in the election; seems to work advantageously for Republicans in state and local elections. I doubt they can win the presidency.

  4. Trump scares the “heck” out of me. His views sounded like the propaganda broadcasts of Germany before the Nazi’s took over. He has advocated that mosques be watched, then closed, and Muslims should not be admitted to our country.

    ISIL has beaten the GOP. The GOP is terrorized. Every real American must support everyone’s right of freedom of religion, and especially the followers of Islam, since they are the current target of hate. Then we can beat the religious terrorist, no matter the terrorists’ religion.

  5. I am beginning to wonder what it will take to shut HIM up. You know…HE’S not entertaining anymore. HE’S a disgrace to all Americans. Maybe we need to lock him up in order to SHUT HIM UP. I don’t even live in the states and HE does not represent me or any sane American abroad. I’m not afraid of Muslims, I’m afraid of HIS followers. HE is insanity with a microphone and HE’S leading the pack of wolves HE’S about to unleash.

    Or maybe it’s all a show and we’re being fooled again.

  6. None of the Repub candidates have any positive plans to make our country better for the majority of citizens, especially regarding our economic well-being. They are only concerned about their own political power and it is truly disheartening to watch how so many people fall into their traps.

    Their platforms of fear and hate certainly seem to be working here in Indiana. Ben Carson will be at the Fort Wayne Coliseum for a rally on Thursday and I wonder how many people will show up for it – I hope not many. Like Trump, he is also a disgrace.

  7. @AgingLGrl–move over, I’m coming to live with you. Being a PP supporter all my life, it hardly comes as a surprise that these terrorists look and sound just like–The Donald! And Ida B Wells has been saying Black Lives Matter since she wrote her first anti-lynching submission in 1892. It takes a lot of bodies before the public notices. I would gloat over how Trump seems to be imploding, but I remember a couple other megaphone mouths who should have been laughed off the podium, but they instead lead their countries into war against the world–and almost won. Evil DOES prosper, folks, especially when we start believing in ‘the other.’ Any time I start thinking one group of people put their pantyhose on differently, I slap myself–hard! As a friend of mine once said, there is more genetic variation among a troop of chimps than the entire human race.

  8. I would caution in relying on Stanley Greenberg’ s optimism. It plays into dangerous “wishful thinking.” I would question his own personal reality.

    Polling has its limitations and especially in attempting to understand the sub-surface undercurrents that will be the actual determinants in the November elections.

    Try to remember Moveon’s failure to stem the Trump tide.

    I would suggest, we all might be better served in listening to today’s comments by JoAnne Green. It’s called reality instead of polling.

  9. girl cousin: There is plenty of room for someone that thinks like me! #IstandWithPlannedParenthood and #FeelTheBern

  10. Trump, the Republican party’s leading contender to be nominee for US president, called for a “total and complete shutdown” of the country’s borders to Muslims in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attack.

    As if that was not enough – Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said the proposed ban would apply to “everybody”, including Muslims seeking immigration visas as well as tourists seeking to enter the country. Another Trump staffer confirmed that the ban would also apply to American Muslims who were overseas – presumably including members of the military and diplomatic service. “This does not apply to people living in the country,” Trump said in an interview on Fox News.
    I suspect none of his rants would be legal but, I watched a TV interview with some of the Trumpet’s followers gathering for a speech he was making that totally agreed with him. One young white man said send them back where they came from. (Oh the Irony, would he accept a Native American telling him to go back where his ancestors came from??)

    Some of my Left leaning friends months ago expected the Trumpet’s Campaign to implode and crash and burn. I thought the Trumpet would prevail. The Trumpet is the boiled down concentrate of what the Republican Base wants: Loud, aggressive and condescending in the extreme to anyone who challenges him.

    I also watched briefly an interview with a Right Wing type. Some how through the tortured logic that is only understood by the Right Wing, Obama is to blame for the Trumpet’s over the top appeal. Condensing his comments Obama is more concerned about Muslim Rights, than the safety of Americans from Muslim Terror.

  11. This is from “German Big Business and of Rise of Hitler” by Henry Ashby Turner, Jr. (Oxford University Press (1985) p. 340:

    “Only through gross distortion can big business be accorded a crucial, or even major, role in the downfall of the Republic. The business community displayed, to be sure, little enthusiasm for the new democratic state, and very few major executives could be termed democrats by conviction. Particularly at the outset of the republican period they felt jeopardized by a political system that assigned ultimate authority over national policy to a mass electorate. They also deplored many republican policies, especially the rapid expansion of “Socialpolitik”—welfare state legislation—and direct governmental intervention in labor-management relations. But once the difficulties of the Republic’s first five years had been overcome and a measure of prosperity, THEY SAW LITTLE CHANCE OF REGIME CHANGE. Most remained frustrated politically, having discovered that economic potency did not translate readily into political effectiveness in a democratic polity, where ballots weighed more than money and where blocs of disciplined interest-group voters counted for more than financial conditions.”

    Henry Ashby Turner, Jr. was a distinguished Professor of History at Yale University

    This clearly show’s what we’re dealing with: It’s DEMOCRACIDE. Big business in the U.S. , UNLIKE NAZI GERMANY, is now in control and they have a significant chance for a change of regime.

    Donald Trump is just the right man for them, despite the objections from a few of their wives. He’s nothing more than an obnoxious version of George Bush and his fascist leaning father.

  12. By the way, our past President George Bush’s father Prescott Bush was, according to the BBC , involved in the failed fascist coup led by Lamont DuPont in 1935. It was only prevented by Retired General Smedley Butler’s testimony before a Congressional committee.

  13. Marv, I recall a Program on the coup you refer to once and only once on American Cable TV. A documentary on the bonus army that was crushed back in the 1930’s is also lacking. Yet everyday WW 2 is re-fought on Cable. There are parts of history that are simply buried.

  14. Louie,

    “There are parts of history that are simply buried.

    Google: 1935 fascist coup. It will lead you to General Smedley Butler and the attempted fascist coup d’etat. Fortunately, it’s impossible to “burn” the internet. At least so far.

    General Butler was a Quaker from outside of Philadelphia. I’m very partial to Quakers. Out of about fifty Quakers who were in Germany during the Hitler regime, only one! only one! became a Nazi.

    The Quakers are pretty special that way. I’m a graduate of t he University of Pennsylvania which was a Quaker college founded by Benjamin Franklin. As I remember, both Haverford and Bryn Mawr in the Philadelphia area were also founded by Quakers. All three of these universities have a long history of exceptional tolerance. “It rubs off.”

    During the 50’s and 60’s Penn was known as the “democratic bus.”

  15. I listened to Trump for a short while last evening. He ridiculed freedom of expression, said the “Islamic extremists” were using the internet to their advantage, and said as President, he would put limits on the internet. This is scary stuff. And Marv. btw, my ancestors John and Frances Small immigrated to the United States from Wales in the 1670s to avoid persecution as Quakers (a/k/a Society of Friends).

  16. Mark,

    “… President he would put limits on the internet.”

    As you pointed out, Trump is moving the troops behind him in a dynamic way. It’s not static.

    That’s why polling is an INEFFECTIVE gauge as to Trump’s chances of being the nominee or even President.

    All he needs is one significant attack by ISIS in the U.S. and everything will change. And ISIS knows that. They want us divided. If nothing else, he’s great at that.

  17. I believe that Sheila’s point was that Republicans consider Muslims to be a minor minority so deamonizing them in order to attract the hate and fear vote has more election upside than downside for them – unless other minor minorities consider an attack on one an attack on all.

    Bottom line: are Republicans swirling the bowl or ascending to their promised land – full control by their minority over all other minorities?

    Of course the hate and fear vote reflects the truth of an earlier statement that ISIS has already largely defeated the GOP, as have so many other special interest groups like the NRA and the Chamber of Commerce and ALEC.

    Or, put another way, will freedom (democracy) prevail as it always has here, or fall as in pre war Germany and Italy?

    The truth is that we are like pre war America and Britain and France – we don’t know, so the thing to do is go all out to save freedom in the absence of any guarantee of success.

    Hoping for the defeat of American enemies is futile. Defeating them is what will determine our future. The world’s future.

    We have our work cut out for us.

  18. Here’s a link to my second favorite blog, you know who’s first. Like Sheila this guy is a formidable intellect and an accomplished writer.

    This particular entry explains why we are immersed in fear, which IMO anyway, explains our anger.

    Republicans know this and take advantage of it like many other things as an avenue to gather votes as their legislative competance no longer entitles them to legitimate governance rewards.

  19. In the past few months, I’ve tried to warn about the ineffectiveness of the Southern Poverty Law Center during my comments on this blog.

    Yesterday, I picked up a copy of their publication entitled: “Intelligence Report-Winter 2015”

    The Editorial is by Mark Potok, who the last time I talked with him, wouldn’t even acknowledge that we were dealing with a deep racist system in the U.S..

    The byline for the editorial was: DONALD TRUMP, CONSPIRACY THEORY AND THE RADICAL RIGHT.

    It’s one whole page and the word: FASCISM is never mentioned. And you want to know why? Because if he does, it means that anti-Semitism is a substantial threat and that brings up the subject of fascism.

    And he better not say anything because of the SPLC’s partnership with the Anti-Defamation League. As I have mentioned before, any truthful report on the elevated level of anti-Semitism in the U.S. will create an atmosphere conducive to temporarily suspending aid to Israel with the possibility of eliminating it.

    I’m not crazy. That’s exactly what George Bush did in 1991 or was it 1992. He immediately followed thru with the undisclosed warning about cutting off the aid. The ADL got the message.

    Also, Bill Moyers attempted to expose FASCISM in the U.S. in a full page story. He even named individuals. It was 1988 in The Dallas-Time Herald. Afterwards, his reputation was viciously attacked in The New Republic Magazine. Moyers got the message.

    As I’m sure you must understand, I’ve received numerous messages from the ADL.

  20. Let’s not make ourselves “easy targets” by becoming complacent due to a few journalists or pollsters stating the GOP is being destroyed by the likes of Trump, Carson and Cruz. Now is not the time to believe that the ranting of rhetoric by extremists in the GOP will save us from putting a Republican in the White House on January 20, 2016. The hard work is now with harder work ahead of us; denying a group with small numbers has any power is a mistake as they often have many supporters in this country as Sheila stated about Muslims. We are famous for backing the underdog in many cases. This is something we must remember here in the state of Indiana; as big a fool as Pence is at the present time, he still has the majority party behind him and all his foolishness. Complacency: “self-satisfaction accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies” is how we ended up with Ballard as Mayor of Indianapolis. We will never mark that bill “paid in full”.

    Marv; here is a question for you. Pescott Bush was involved in a failed fascist group in 1935. In February 1992 President George H. W. Bush signed the Department of Defense Directive 5210.56 declaring all military bases and posts as “gun free zones”. “Only DoD personnel regularly engaged in law enforcement or security duties shall be armed.” What is the mentality behind that, he declared the Gulf War. We are all personally aware of what “W” accomplished by ignoring facts and declaring unnecessary wars we are still fighting even though he declared “mission accomplished” five months after invading Iraq. What do you suppose Jeb Bush has in store for us should he be inaugurated? He appears to be an running next-to-last at this time only because Trump has a louder voice. WE are the “easy targets” at the present time; we are so due to the amount of money behind the GOP making us the poor relations and the celebrity-hungry media is following the loudest noise. The level of discontent, the street killings, the mass shootings (terrorist and otherwise) and the amount of discord and hatred in this country; the next “boots on the ground” war could be right here at home, on our home ground. “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

    I am afraid; I am very afraid.

  21. Pete,

    “Bottom line: are the Republicans swirling the bowl or ascending to their promised land-full control of their minority “over all other minorities?”

    You’re so right. That’s the issue in a nutshell.

    This is from “Let the People Know? by Norman Angel (The Viking Press, 1942, 1943) page vii:

    “The evils which have come upon us are not due to lack of knowledge in the sense that we lack the knowledge to cure cancer, or communicate with Mars, but are due to our failure to apply the knowledge we all possess to the guidance of public policy; we evade the self-evident–or it evades us–because we are not honest with ourselves in facing the facts of our own nature; we are encouraged alike by demagogues and by intellectuals to find scapegoats such as foreigners, or capitalists or bankers or big business or Jews, so that we may blame the evils of our society upon them, and not upon our own shortcomings. Democracy can never work so long as, refusing to face human shortcomings, we are content to say “The voice of the people is the voice of God.” (Is the voice of the German people, the Herrenvolk, the voice of God?)
    Democracy will have a chance when we have the courage to say: —“the voice of the people is very commonly the voice of Satan,”–the voice of resentment, prejudice, passion; for then we shall be on the watch for those demons and recognize our obligation to restrain them.”

    “We miss the significance of what is happening unless we realize the importance of distinguishing between two distinct orders of events: those happening in the visible and external world, the factual fall of nations, destruction of states, and the domination or threatened domination of the vast majority of mankind by a relatively small minority, between events of that order and those happening in the minds of men. In this latter sphere we face above all a miracle of blindness. It behooves us therefore not merely to face the facts of yesterday’s folly but inquire how it came about that we did not see it to be folly.” p. 57

    Norman Angel was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

  22. Anybody who can picture Donald Trump with his finger on the big red button and not lose sleep is severely delusional.

  23. Remarkable words Marv. Thanks for sharing them.

    I try to never use the term “evil”. It’s too abstract to me. I like “ignorant” because it is universal.

    Governance should be judged on results IMO. One essential result is to maximize the freedom everyone has to live their life unencumbered by others who want only what’s best for themselves. Collaboration is my bottom line.

    Part of collaboration is the old insurance line about risk sharing. If we can spread life’s inherent risks across everybody, compared to letting fate impose them randomly, we are all free to proceed with exploiting our gifts to the benefit of everyone.

    I do not support people living at the expense of others. It drags us all down.

  24. JoAnne,

    “What is the mentality (Bush) behind that?”

    In all due respects, the Bush family was not born with a lot of brain power. I heard that you cannot flunk out of Yale if you try hard? So you go to Yale as a legacy and you can’t flunk out. It’s a clear road to the presidency.

    Deepak Chopra and I were the first to discuss 9/11 on the Diane Rehm Talk Show on NPR. This was 7 days after the attack.

    I knew what the Bush family was all about from my dealings with them in Texas. I warned and Deepak Chopra joined with me that we shouldn’t invade Iraq. We were specific. Diane Rehm’s response was to cut me off the air.

    She later told me at a dinner party held a few months later at the PBS station in Jacksonville: “If you want to discuss issues like you attempted to do, you need to go to Congress and not to my talk show.”

    “Thanks a mill.”

    So the present reality is that our future is in the hands of the Southern Poverty Law Center and their “$150+million dollars in the bank.”

    God saves us all, and, especially, if another Bush is elected as President.

  25. Marv, I read Butler’s book “War Is a Racket” a few years ago. Every time I hear the sound of the War Drums I re-read parts of it. Now a days it seems the sound of the War Drums is always in the air the volume is rather high now.

  26. @Nancy: just a quibble, but it is the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. (I work there, so I have an interest in seeing that it is described correctly.) Carson is to be in town for a private fund raiser when they found the arena was available so they decided to make use of it. Whether it will get a crowd all depends: from what I read, there is to be no admission (but there is a parking fee) and it would seat about 10,000. I am expecting that there will be a decent turnout but not a full house.

  27. It’s interesting, with all the stories about competing candidates and candidates dropping out, that one vote has yet to be cast. I guess folks believe that the polls are accurate, when the usual way of polling, using landlines, may not be accurate at all, and they can’t call mobile phones the way landlines are used. Wouldn’t it be ironic if it turns out that the polls weren’t predictive at all?

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