Opinion: Trump, the rabble-rouser | Opinion | DW | 08.12.2015
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Opinion: Trump, the rabble-rouser

Donald Trump is a racist and a demagogue. His latest proposal to prohibit Muslims from entering the US is not a one-off, but strategy. It’s time to finally debunk him, argues Michael Knigge.

The term rabble-rouser shouldn't be used lightly. But it's an apt description for Donald Trump. According to Merriam-Webster it defines someone who "makes a group of people angry, excited, or violent (such as by giving speeches) especially in order to achieve a political or social goal."

That is precisely what Donald Trump has been engaged in for months now. He first agitated mainly against immigrants from Mexico. But with the terror campaign of the so called Islamic State increasingly dominating headlines, Trump has switched his preferred target of attack: Instead of Hispanic immigrants, he now agitates primarily against Muslims.

His latest proposal, to ban all Muslims from entering the US, is absurd. Such a travel ban – applying equally to all visitors, immigrants and even US citizens of Muslim faith – is unconstitutional and goes against all international norms. Just for those legal reasons it can't and won't become reality.

Michael Knigge Kommentarbild App

DW's Michael Knigge

Much more pernicious though is the damage Trump causes to civil society. His proposal for a sweeping faith-based travel ban designates all 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide as potential terrorists. This is racist and makes a mockery of the values and rights of religious freedom for which the United States stands historically.

Shameful and dangerous

But Trump‘s remark is not just shameful, it is also dangerous. His proposal further incites a xenophobic and anti-Muslim undercurrent that is already latent in certain quarters of society. What's more, stoking anti-Muslim anger plays directly into the cards of Islamic extremists.

And given the large arsenal in private hands in the US, it doesn't take a huge stretch of imagination to realize that anti-Muslim resentment might at some point lead individuals to boil over and go down the path of violence.

Because let's make no mistake, Trump's remarks still resonate broadly. Despite all predictions to the contrary he continues to be the leading Republican candidate for president in most polls. That's why the media, politicians and citizens should finally bid farewell to the idea that Trump will somehow just vanish again like a bad dream.

Trump is not the crazy, but essentially harmless uncle, who entertains and embarrasses the other family members during Thanksgiving dinner with crass statements. Trump is an agitator. His unlimited financial resources and the hard-core following he has accumulated so far will allow him to play a key role in the US election campaign for a very long time. That's why it is essential to finally take him seriously and debunk him.

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