I was on vacation last week, and though reporter/assistant editor Ben Watanabe did a fine job holding down the fort while I was away, I was pleased to see that people seemed to miss me.
Not entirely imagined, the evidence was the over 800 emails I received during my absence. Clearly, newspaper editors are exceedingly popular and cool. People must really love our lousy senses of humor and stupid columns.
Anyway, one of the standouts was a voice mail (we get them via email nowadays) from a loyal reader who politely objected to the cartoon in the Nov. 28 edition. It depicted leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump sitting at a table with Adolf Hitler — Trump was applying for a job, voicing his opinions about the need for Muslim registration when Hitler says he’s heard enough with the words, “You’re hired!”
Our faithful subscriber cried foul, saying she “firmly agrees” that Islam is a threat to America. Citing the slaughter by extremists in Paris, she said attacks on U.S. soil are likely and are reason “… to not let these people from the Middle East come into our country.” The paper was unfair to link the two men, she said.
I’m sorry madam, but I’m not with you on this one. Trump has revealed himself to be a man of exceedingly low character, from his racist remarks about Mexicans and sexist comments toward women to his recent mockery of a disabled news reporter. But Trump’s suggestion that Muslims should be required to register with the government is beyond unreasonable. It’s madness driven by fear and intolerance, and that it’s gotten any traction at all is a painful step back from the bloody lessons of the past. It appears we’ve already forgotten the horrors of World War II, or maybe bigotry and prejudice simply never died, I don’t know.
I suppose I could be wrong. Perhaps we should require millions of Muslim Americans to register with Uncle Sam so that some citizens, the right citizens, can feel safe. We could even fire up ole Camp Harmony in Puyallup, the transfer station for Japanese Americans who were sent to dedicated internment camps during WWII. We’d have to take down the memorial sculpture that was erected in 1983 in remembrance of those detained — might send a conflicting message.
No, I guess I’m still of the opinion that persecuting an entire group of people wasn’t OK then and it’s not OK now. The ISIS threat is real, as real as the homeland terrorism being waged now by right-wing extremists who shoot up black churches and Planned Parenthood facilities, but neither Muslims nor Christians should pay the price for religious fanaticism.
The possibility of yet another terror attack is frightening, I agree, but not so much as the knowledge that Donald Trump’s extremist views have found support on South Whidbey and that such a man might conceivably become our next president.