When radical Islamic jihadists strike, countless non-Muslim voices rise up across social media to demand that moderate Muslims condemn the barbarity. As a matter of fact, moderate Muslims do. Ammar Amonette, imam of the Islamic Center of Virginia, did so in the Richmond Times-Dispatch a few weeks ago. You can find many more examples by searching for "Muslim clerics condemn" on Google. Nevertheless, the demands continue.
A similar phenomenon occurs when African-Americans lash out. When Baltimore residents rioted over the killing of Freddie Gray, scolds fretted over the failings of "black culture." Black leaders are expected to condemn such behavior; black parents are faulted for not raising their children properly. In the eyes of some, the guilt is collective.
Which brings us to the Donald Trump-David Ramadan spat.
Trump recently blasted the Republican Party of Virginia for planning to make people sign a statement swearing they are Republicans in order to vote in the GOP primary on March 1. That was noteworthy—it was the first time in memory that Trump has actually been right about something.
But Ramadan, a Republican state legislator who did not seek re-election in November, thought Trump was wrong. He said as much on Twitter. And, in response to Trump's assertion that the Virginia GOP is "stupid," Ramadan called Trump a "MORON!!"
Whereupon the Trumpenproletariat went ballistic. Over the next couple of days, thousands of them went after Ramadan. Some blasted him for trying to "suppress the vote," which is fair comment. Others called him a RINO, or Republican in Name Only. That was inaccurate; Ramadan gets high marks from conservative, business, and gun-rights groups, and lousy ratings from liberal advocacy groups. It also was ironic—given that Ramadan was defending the GOP against an interloper, Trump, who praises socialized medicine, thinks eminent domain is "wonderful," and has said he "really likes" Bill Clinton, who could go down in history as a "great president." If anyone is a RINO, it's Trump.
But many Trump fans went even further than that. They accused Ramadan, who was born in Lebanon, of being a terrorist, a member of ISIS and Hezbollah, someone who practices taqqiya (deception) and who "enlists Christians" for his nefarious purposes. Others threatened Ramadan's safety. One suggested Ramadan better keep a gun handy. "Wanna run your (expletive) mouth to ME (expletive)?" wrote another. "Gee, I'm nice and close by. We could meet, let's say…….your place? ; )."
Unfortunately, this does not seem to be a wild deviation from the norm. In a well-publicized series of incidents, Trump supporters have shown a penchant for bigotry and for getting physical with people whose views they dislike. At a Phoenix rally, one Trump fan yelled "Mother-(blanking) tacos! Go back to Mexico! Go back to Mexico! Nobody wants you!" at a group of Latinos. Another admitted to hitting a protester: "Yeah, I sucker-punched the guy; the guy had a ring in his nose." And hey, what's America coming to if you can't hit people for dressing funny?
A caveat: It's rarely wise to generalize from specific incidents. Just because some Trump supporters act like goons does not mean all Trump supporters do.
Then again, wiseacres on Twitter have developed a hashtag—#NotAllMuslims—that ridicules just this sort of caveat. Not all Muslims are terrorists, you say? Then look at this one. And this one. And… The implication is that, while the naïve like to claim "not all Muslims" are terrorists, savvy observers know better. It's like the old joke about lawyers: The 95 percent who are lying scum give the rest a bad reputation.
By that standard, we might soon need a #NotAllTrumpists hashtag, too: Not all Trump supporters threaten people's safety. Not all Trumpists call patriotic American citizens terrorists for daring to question their Dear Leader. Not all Trumpists call Latinos "mother-(blanking) tacos." Not all Trumpists think, as one wrote in response to Ramadan, that "the Muslim Brotherhood has long infiltrated the neocons." Not all Trumpists assault people. Because surely not all Trump supporters do. Surely there are at least some rational, serene, thoughtful Trump fans among the bug-eyed kooks who scream spittle-flecked invective at the drop of a hat. Aren't there?
Hard to tell. The calm, dispassionate Trump supporters, assuming they exist, have remained silent while the screamers rage. Maybe it's time the moderates spoke up. They could start by condemning the radicals in their midst who make them look bad by lashing out in Trump's name.
This article originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.