- - Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hillary Clinton evoked a defense of Muslims at least six different times in less than 30 minutes in Thursday’s “Alt Right” speech, as she accused Donald Trump of bringing hate groups to the “mainstream.” Mrs. Clinton referred to the ideology of being anti-Muslim as a key tenet of what she called the “emerging racist ideology known as the ‘Alt-Right.’” The other components, she stated, include race-baiting ideas and anti-immigrant positions.

For some time, Mrs. Clinton has sought to portray herself as an ally of the American Muslim community. She is well known for hiring Muslims into high profile roles on her staff. Huma Abedin, a Muslim, serves as the vice chairwoman of the Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign for president, and previously served as the deputy chief of staff under the U.S. Secretary of State during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure. Also during her tenure at the State Department, Mrs. Clinton created an office called the “Special Representative to Muslim Communities at the State Department” and hired another American Muslim woman, Farah Pandith, to occupy the role.

After the last iftar dinner for the Islamic holy month of Ramadhan was hosted by President Thomas Jefferson in 1805, Mrs. Clinton reinstated the tradition as first lady in 1996. The tradition continued has continued with each White House administration since then.

Attacking the “Alt Right” movement, Mrs. Clinton accused its adherents of being associated with anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bullying. In the last year, numerous stories have appeared where Muslim students have extreme bullying. Muslim comedian Dean Obeidallah says “Sometimes, it’s even the teachers [who are] doing it” and recounts the story of a young Muslim girl named Bayan Zehlif, whose name was falsely printed in the school yearbook as “Isis Phillips”. When she complained, she was told it was a typo. Mr. Obeidallah found the explanation to be unbelievable and an example of school sponsored bullying

In October, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a study found that a majority of Muslim students have faced bullying at school. 

Throughout the speech, Mrs. Clinton repeatedly sought to tie Mr. Trump to the “Alt Right” ideology, by referencing controversial remarks he made about Muslims, and then repudiating them.

Referencing Mr. Trump’s quote on Nov. 21, 2015 at a Birmingham, Alabama,rally, where he said “Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering” – Mrs. Clinton harshly denied the story as true.

After the original backlash to the comment, which PolitiFact, a fact checking agency, found to be untrue, Mr. Trump doubled down on his comments in ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos saying “It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don’t like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.”

Since then, Mr. Trump has ceased mentioning the incident, and it has not been a campaign issue for several months. However, Mrs. Clinton utilized the speech to recount each of the major anti-Muslim controversies associated with Mr. Trump.

She also referenced the infamous “Muslim ban” espoused by Mr. Trump.

The ban was first referenced in a television ad originally aired by the Trump campaign in January of this year. After displaying imagery of terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad, the ad narrator says of Mr. Trump “That’s why he’s calling for a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, until we can figure out what’s going on.”

Later in a press release, Mr. Trump said “I am very proud of this ad, I don’t know if I need it, but I don’t want to take any chances.”

In May, Mr. Trump softened his stance, saying it was merely a suggestion, and in June he stated it was only temporary. Recently, he has called for “extreme vetting” of immigrants from certain regions, which many have viewed as a pivot from earlier policies, however Mr. Trump has not directly repudiated his earlier comments about preventing Muslims from entering the country.

Seizing on this, Mrs. Clinton attempted to envision a border crossing wherein Muslims are categorically banned from entry. She said, “But in Trump’s America, when they step up to the counter, the immigration officer would ask every single person, ‘What is your religion?’

“And then what?

“What if someone says, ‘I’m a Christian,’ but the agent doesn’t believe them.

“Do they have to prove it? How would they do that?”

Increasing the harshness of her commentary, Mrs. Clinton stated that the only place in the world that currently imposes a religious identity test for entry is the territory controlled by Islamic State.

Mrs. Clinton closed her speech by praising Olympic bronze medal champion Ms. Ibtihaj Muhammad, who wears the Islamic hijab. Mrs. Clinton questioned whether such an athlete would be welcome in “Donald Trump’s America”.

After the speech, Mr. Trump posted on his official Twitter account “Hillary Clinton’s short speech is pandering to the worst instincts in our society. She should be ashamed of herself!”

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