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.