The GOP presidential candidate’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. prompts vehement condemnation among local leaders of many faiths and political stripes.
In the wake of this week’s news, this much is clear for Jawad Khaki, president emeritus of the IMAN Center of Kirkland: “We need to combat extreme ideology.”
He’s talking not only about the terrorist shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., but also about Donald Trump’s reaction to them. On Monday, the Republican presidential candidate called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
“This is really the voice of a lynch mob,” Khaki said. “It’s helping ISIS (Islamic State group) recruit people. He’s creating an us versus them.”
Locally, as nationally and internationally, Trump’s comments are drawing vehement condemnation, and not just from Muslims.
Joe Castleberry, president of evangelical Christian Northwest University in Kirkland, and the author of a just-released book called “The New Pilgrims: How Immigrants are Renewing America’s Faith and Values,” called Trump’s views “profoundly un-American.”
“We need to root out Islamic extremism, but we don’t discriminate on the basis of religion,” he said. “That’s who we are.”
But Washington State Republican Party Chairman Susan Hutchison took a different tack, declining to criticize Trump and scolding the media furor over his Muslim ban.
“I agree with the statements made by our GOP elected leaders. The real issue is that the Obama/Clinton foreign policy has put this nation at risk for terrorist attacks as we saw in San Bernardino. Shame on the media for changing the subject,” Hutchison said in a statement.
Her comments stood in contrast with those of some local elected Republican lawmakers.
State Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, who is majority floor leader for the state Senate Republicans, called Trump a fascist.
“When you target people based upon their religion or based upon the color of their skin … and when you want to use the full force of government to restrict the liberties of people based on those characteristics, it’s no longer hyperbole to use the word fascist. That’s what fascism is,” Fain said.
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane said in a statement she agreed with House Speaker Paul Ryan that the Trump proposal “does not reflect our values as Republicans or Americans.”
Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, declined to comment, and Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Vancouver, and Dan Newhouse, R-Yakima, did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
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Trump’s comments also conjured thoughts of fascism for Dee Simon, executive director of the Holocaust Center for Humanity. “For us it hits home and it hits deeply,” she said.
She compared the call to ban Muslims with sentiments in the United States after Adolf Hitler took power in Germany. “Poll after poll showed that the American people wanted to close the door on Jewish immigration because they thought that they could be spies coming in.”
Around the same time, the country turned against Japanese Americans — a piece of history that Trump’s remarks brought up for Karen Yoshitomi, executive director of the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington. “From the Japanese perspective, we have a moral obligation to make those comparisons,” she said.
A lot of effort has been put into showing how Japanese internment happened because of a “failure of political leadership, war hysteria and fear mongering,” according to Yoshitomi. And yet, she said, “It is happening again.”
Not everybody unequivocally condemned Trump, however. Joseph Fuiten, pastor emeritus of Cedar Park Church in Bothell, said the candidate’s call for a complete shutdown was “obviously a ridiculous proposal. It’s not practical.”
But, he said, “We clearly have a problem with Islam at the moment.” Unlike many who have taken pains to separate what President Obama on Sunday called a “perverted interpretation of Islam” from the religion as a whole, Fuiten asserted that “there is a violent element in Islam.”
“We’ve got to stop the floodgates,” he added. “We are taking in a lot of Muslims.” And so, he said, while Trump “inartfully” expressed his views, “he’s not fundamentally wrong.”