Credo Action

Democrats: Words matter. Don’t validate Trump’s hate.

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Tell Democrats:

“Donald Trump’s campaign is based on racism, xenophobia, islamophobia and hate. Don’t validate or legitimize him or his platform.”

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    Democrats: Words matter. Don’t validate Trump’s hate.

    Donald Trump’s racism has the official stamp of approval of the Republican Party establishment, and their leaders have been hard at work sanitizing his toxic message to justify their support of his hateful platform.

    With a fascist assuming the leadership of the Republican Party, Democrats must call out and denounce Trump’s racism and xenophobia, and refuse to accept hate becoming part of mainstream political discourse. They must hold themselves to a higher standard and refuse to stoop to Trump’s level.

    That’s why it’s so troubling that some Democratic leaders are making statements – or taking policy positions – that seem to normalize Trump’s views.

    Tell Democratic leaders: Words matter. Don’t validate Trump’s hate.

    Within hours of this weekend’s horrifying massacre at an Orlando LGBT club, and far before we had clarity on the killer’s motives, Trump was bragging about “being right on radical Islamic terrorism” and challenging Sec. Clinton for being unwilling to use the phrase.

    Last December, after the San Bernardino attacks, Sec. Clinton gave a strong explanation for why she did not: “The problem is, [radical Islam] sounds like we are declaring war against a religion. That to me is number one, wrong. It doesn’t do justice to the vast numbers of Muslims in our own country and around the world who are peaceful people.”1

    But on Monday morning, Sec. Clinton said:

    "From my perspective, it matters what we do more than what we say... I have clearly said... whether you call it radical jihadism or radical Islamism, I'm happy to say either. I think they mean the same thing."2

    With those comments, Sec. Clinton appeared to be caving to the unrelenting campaign by Trump and the extreme right-wing to use the phrase “radical Islam.” It’s part of their larger effort to scapegoat Muslim communities and play into the Republican base’s racism and xenophobia.3

    Sec. Clinton’s change from her earlier position also put her at odds with President Obama who – with good reason – has gone to great lengths to stand firm on not using the phrase. On Tuesday, he gave a powerful speech where he once again took a stand against the right-wing’s desire to prioritize the racist marginalization of Muslims over the real fight against terrorism.4

    Sec. Clinton’s campaign said she was trying to neutralize Trump’s critique and show she is more equipped to fight terrorism, but her willingness to use Trump’s language actually cedes the terms of the debate to Trump and other bigots, helping to validate their hate.

    It’s not only disappointing when Democratic leaders cede talking points to the right — it’s a reckless and dangerous stance to take with a demagogue like Trump. It’s not a high bar to stand on higher ground than Trump, and we fully expect Democratic leaders to do so, and do so consistently.

    Tell Democratic leaders: Words matter. Don’t validate Trump’s hate.

    Sec. Clinton is not the only Democratic leader whose actions have played into Trump’s rhetoric. Recently, Sen. Jon Tester, head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee – whose home state of Montana is likely to vote for Trump in the fall – has not only said he’s “sure” he can work with Trump on some things, but has characterized Trump’s hateful rhetoric as “some pretty goofy opinions.”5

    Trump has called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. He has proposed banning Muslims, including U.S. citizens, from entering the United States. He has encouraged his supporters to target protesters at his rallies with violence and has justified and endorsed the violence his supporters commit.

    This rhetoric is not goofy. It is racist, xenophobic and anti-Muslim hate speech. Every Democrat should be exposing and standing up to Trump’s hate at every turn, and never giving credence to – or cover for – it.

    Tell Democratic leaders: Words matter. Don’t validate Trump’s hate.

    Thanks for everything you do.

    References:

    1. Abby Phillip, “As Clinton shifts on ‘radical Islam’ label, Trump claims credit,” Washington Post, June 13, 2016.
    2. David Wright, “Hillary Clinton: I'll say the words 'radical Islamism',” CNN, June 14, 2016.
    3. Andrew Prokop, “Why Republicans want Obama to denounce "radical Islam" — and why he won't do it,” Vox, June 13, 2016.
    4. Bill Chappell, “President Obama Slams 'Yapping' Over 'Radical Islam' And Terrorism,” NPR, June 14, 2016.
    5. Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim, “Centrist Democrats: We can work with President Trump,” Politico, May 16, 2016.