Why the American democracy is the greatest despite the disturbing things some of our leaders say
BY LOU SIFA
When announcing his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in New York on June 16, real estate mogul Donald Trump said with a straight face: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” adding:
“They’re sending people that have lots of problems…they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Despite being challenged by the press on both sides of the editorial orientation spectrum, the billionaire TV personality has not backed down, not even after his comments drew outrage not only from immigration and Latino advocacy groups, but also from his business partners, some of whom have severed ties with him.
Trump, who is no stranger to controversies, found himself in the middle of yet another storm when he failed to disapprove the false statement made out of ignorance or outright hatefulness by a member of the audience he addressed on Sep. 17 in Rochester, New Hampshire, who said about President Obama, an American citizen and a Christian:
“We have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one, you know he’s not even an American.”
Not only did Donald Trump, who took the lead of the so-called ‘birther movement’ (a group of Americans who questioned Obama’s American citizenship and has been proven wrong by unmistakable proof to the contrary) fail to disapprove of the comments as did the senator from Arizona and Republican candidate for president in 2008, John McCain, in a similar situation; the real estate mogul also tried to defend himself during repeated grilling by the press. These inflammatory comments have helped Trump enjoy impressive ratings that have kept him at the top of the Republican pack since his candidacy’s announcement in June.
Trump’s fellow Republican presidential contender Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, has also been riding the waves of controversies because of his propensity for making outrageous remarks as well, which include the following statement he made during a very popular Sunday talk show, Meet the Press, in late September:
“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”
The statement runs contrary to Article VI, paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution which stipulates that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
As in the case of his Republican rival Donald Trump, Dr. Carson has doubled down on his comment and attempted to “recalibrate” the message while blaming the press for distorting his views—something he has repeatedly felt compelled to do throughout the campaign so far, always “clarifying” his comments.
The doctor’s remarks, which infuriated some members of the 8-million strong American Muslim population, resonated with a significant segment of the overall American population. According to a Gallup survey published in June, 38% of Americans polled (largely a pool of little-educated citizens) said they would not support a Muslim candidate for president. A few days after his remarks, Carson boasted that campaign donations had been pouring in to the tune of a million dollars a day. “The money has been coming in so fast, it’s hard to even keep up with it,” Carson told Fox News, one of America’s leading news networks on Sep. 23.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives every U.S. citizen the unalienable right to say what’s on their mind, even if what they say is inflammatory such as the above. In the name of the same Constitution, the American press relentlessly grills—sometimes challenges—public officials who make inflammatory statements, so neither Carson nor Trump could get away with their outrageous statements.
Every Constitution throughout the world nowadays, I believe, guarantees this right for their citizens. But the United States, thanks to our robust democracy, stands out in the way this right is used and protected.
For example, on October 9 and 10, an organization that calls itself the Global Rally for Humanity staged a series of protests in various locations across the U.S., including several mosques, to protest Islam. “Standing up against Islam does not mean you’re a racist or a bigot, it simply means you’re not an idiot and can see the reality of Islam around the world,” one can read on the Facebook page of the organization, with some of its “cells” encouraging their members to carry guns to the protest venues. “The world is saying no to Islam,” the organization proclaims. In our land of the free that is home to the Library of Congress and some of the best world’s universities, ignorance is part of the unalienable rights.
However, in a few months, if not earlier, the retired neurosurgeon with a penchant for laughable, totally baseless statements will be swept back to his peaceful retirement, just as the larger-than-life billionaire and reality TV man eager to insult his way to the presidency he is not qualified for, will be brought back to reality, thus clearing the way for the Republican party to position a decent, suitable candidate for the general election, as it did four years ago in the person of Mitt Romney. For, in the end, when the noises die down, Americans will elect in November 2016 as their new president an honorable man like Barack Obama and George W. Bush as it usually does, if not, for the first time, a woman of the same category.