President Donald Trump has often shown his deeply anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamophobia. But just when you think he couldn’t make already vulnerable Muslim-Americans — especially our fellow Iranian-Americans — any more vulnerable than we already are, Trump one-ups himself.
On Monday, the President retweeted a blatantly doctored, fake image of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer in Middle Eastern garb together in front of an Iranian flag. In the image, Pelosi is wearing a hijab and Schumer has a turban on his head with “Democrats 2020” written on the bottom of the image. The tweet accompanying the photo reads “the corrupted Dems trying their best to come to the Ayatollah’s rescue.”
Trump retweeted the image from an anonymous account with the alias “D0wn_Under,” which has previously tweeted out other conspiracy theories around Pelosi and Iran.
Trump didn’t stop with just one deeply offensive, anti-Muslim tweet. Other tweets he sent included one showing a graphic picture of what appeared to be a man’s mutilated body, along with the claim that Pelosi “supports this mullahs’ crime.” The tweet was later removed and replaced, according to the Washington Post, with a note saying it “violated the Twitter Rules.”
All of this is a new low, even for the impeached president who is infamous for making low blows, and it’s a new low for the people who work for him. Trump’s tweeting the racist pictures show that this president apparently believes portraying someone as Muslim and as sympathetic to a Muslim country is a good way to insult them. Making fun of Islamic clothing, reducing the world’s roughly 1.6 billion Muslim population to turbans and veils is offensive and incorrect, especially considering not all Muslims choose to cover or wear religious headgear.
Instead of trying to apologize for her boss’s tweets, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham went on Fox News and defended Trump’s decision to amplify the tweet, stating he did what he did to make a point.
“I think the president is making clear that the Democrats have been parroting Iranian talking points and almost taking the side of terrorists and those who were out to kill the Americans,” she said. “I think the president was making the point that the Democrats seem to hate him so much that they’re willing to be on the side of countries and leadership of countries who want to kill Americans.”
Even if we were to seriously consider Grisham’s point on Trump just lashing out at fellow US government officials for opposing his foreign policy, is it ever OK to insult your opponents using Islamophobic slurs?
No matter what point Grisham claims Trump is making, his tweets make it clear to the world that the president of the United States thinks that what millions of Americans believe in and how they dress are slurs. This is absolutely unacceptable, and Congress needs to demand that Trump apologize to Muslims at home and abroad.
Furthermore, during such a sensitive period of renewed and heightened tensions with Iran, Trump is showing that he has no issue proffering anti-Muslim sentiments that put the lives of American Muslims and Iranian-Americans at risk. Recent studies have found Islamophobic sentiment is on the rise in the US. One study has even found that Trump’s tweets about Islam are correlated with anti-Muslim hate crimes.
“It is unconscionable that an American president would mock Islam and Muslims in such a derogatory manner,” Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, told Newsweek in an emailed statement. “This type of bigoted message promoted by the President of the United States will serve to further endanger American Muslims, Sikhs and members of other faiths who wear recognizable religious attire.”
Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League condemned as “outrageous” the tweet’s “repulsive anti-Muslim bigotry,” insisting that “an apology is in order ASAP.”
Trump’s hateful and shameful tweets must be condemned by congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Americans, Muslim and non-Muslims alike, are owed an apology for this filthy language coming from the highest level of our government.
For anyone out there who needed more proof that Trump is an open racist and bigot, or that his repeated anti-Muslim actions are part of a larger Islamophobic pattern, now you have it.
But perhaps more important than pointing out and establishing Trump’s Islamophobic pattern is how we collectively as Americans respond to it. And we must unequivocally reject and stand united against hateful rhetoric and policies every time that the Trump administration spews it.