In a statement given on Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest has said that Donald Trump disqualified himself from the presidency when he proposed a ban on Muslims entering the United States. It is highly unusual for the White House to comment so strongly on the campaign of a presidential candidate.
On Monday, Trump announced to a room full of supporters that the best way to prevent future attacks on American soil would be to institute a ban on all Muslims entering the USA. While the announcement was well-received by his immediate audience, outrage soon followed on social media, with many users comparing Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. Other denouncements quickly followed. Celebrities, such as J.K. Rowling, condemned the statement, saying that Donald Trump was a less pleasant person than Voldemort, the sinister villain of the Harry Potter series. Perhaps more significantly, some Republican candidates have also joined in criticizing the plan, saying that Donald Trump’s antipathy towards Muslims was dangerous and divisive.
As reported by CNN, Josh Earnest used Tuesday’s press briefing to join the attack. Earnest argued that any plan that seeks to discriminate on the basis of religion was unconstitutional, and that this therefore clashed with the presidential oath, in which a president swears to “preserve, protect and defend” the constitution of the USA.
“The fact is what Donald Trump said yesterday disqualifies him from serving as president.”
Earnest also pointed out that while some of the Republican candidates had criticized the plan, the party as a whole was not united in its condemnation. Earnest argued that continued acceptance of Donald Trump as a candidate was, in itself, incompatible with the office of president. The pledge that Republicans take to support any candidate who might win the nomination meant that they, too, would need to support the Muslim ban.
“For Republican candidates for president to stand by their pledge to support Mr. Trump, that in and of itself is disqualifying.”
Donald Trump’s campaign has been constantly attended by accusations of bigotry and racism. At the very outset, there were Trump’s infamous comments about Mexicans, and in the immediate wake of the San Bernardino shootings, Trump indicated that he would consider “shutting down mosques,” for reasons that he did not immediately make clear. In responding to the offence caused by his Muslim ban comments, Donald Trump was quoted as saying “I. Don’t. Care.” Trump’s campaign style and apparent willingness to appeal to what Bernie Sanders has described as “nativism” has led Josh Earnest to describe Donald Trump as “a carnival barker.”
Whether or not Donald Trump disqualified himself from the presidency, it is widely agreed amongst analysts and commentators that his remarks have been deeply unhelpful in the wake of the San Bernardino attacks. The Washington Post has reported that there has been a major backlash against U.S. Muslims following the attacks in Paris and California. The Post, and others, have pointed to rising incidents of harassment, discrimination, and even assault against U.S. Muslims, and it is unlikely that Donald Trump’s comments are going to help this situation.
[Photo by Getty Images/Scott Olson]