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Abdul-Jabbar writes: "Americans have always prided themselves on our no-person-left-behind ethic. We show willingness to sacrifice selfish needs to uphold a greater principle of community. In the face of adversity, real Americans choose courage over cowardliness. For them, compassion conquers fear. I miss that America."

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. (photo: Mercatus Center)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. (photo: Mercatus Center)

Trump Is So Scared That He Wants Us to Dismantle the Constitution

By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, The Washington Post

23 September 16


Cowards abandon principles at the first sign of danger.

mericans have always prided themselves on our no-person-left-behind ethic. We show willingness to sacrifice selfish needs to uphold a greater principle of community. In the face of adversity, real Americans choose courage over cowardliness. For them, compassion conquers fear.

I miss that America.

Donald Trump’s xenophobic, paranoid nativist rhetoric was already alarming by now, a few weeks before the presidential election. But the way he and his campaign reacted after a bomb plot and explosion in New York City and New Jersey this past weekend represented an attempt to make a fearful retreat from core American values, like someone tossing children and the elderly off the lifeboat to have more food and water for himself and his cringing cronies.

Trump’s method for convincing people to go along with doing what they know is fundamentally anti-American — and just plain evil — involves scaring voters with a constant barrage of lies and exaggerations. The fact that this propaganda is so effective is especially sad, because the nation that once stood up to bullies like Hitler, Castro and Khrushchev is now falling into goose-step behind a home-grown bully who seems afraid of everything that isn’t part of his entitled life, who responds to his irrational fears the way a child does.

Trump’s remarks the past few days — using the suspected bomber to illustrate the need for restricting Muslims’ rights — demonstrate his inability to offer any evidence to support his rhetoric of fear. “This isn’t only a matter of terrorism, but also a matter of quality of life,” Trump said Wednesday in Toledo. “We want to make sure we’re only admitting those into our country who support our values and love — and I mean love — our people.” After the bombing, he said that “you’re going to profile people that maybe look suspicious” and that “we have no choice,” though he claims, implausibly, that doesn’t mean racial profiling.

Let’s just look at the logic. Suspected bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami was a child when he came to the United States from Afghanistan; he has been a U.S. citizen since 2011. Trump’s “extreme vetting” would not have kept him out. His father, who professed anti-Taliban sentiments, contacted the FBI two years ago, naming his son as a possible terrorist, and authorities found nothing to arrest him for then. The really disturbing question we don’t want to ask is how someone raised in the United States for 16 years, who graduated from high school and attended community college here, can turn against all our values. But the answer will probably have nothing to do with Islam. “Lone wolf” terrorists of any religion usually turn out to be motivated by isolation or — as in the case of Dylann Roof, the accused mass murderer in last year’s church shooting in Charleston, S.C. — mental illness. Too often, we blame Islam when people of color are accused of a crime, and look for other excuses when whites are.

This fear-based thinking was echoed by Donald Trump Jr., who on Monday tweeted a photograph of a bowl of Skittles and the caption: “If I had a bowl of skittles and told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”

The tweet left me more worried about our educational problem than our refugee problem. Trump Jr. failed to capitalize Skittles, a brand name — surprising for someone whose whole career involves maintaining the Trump brand (or is that the “trump” brand?). The punctuation is wrong, leaving the message to start with a sentence fragment of the kind corrected in elementary school grammar classes. The photo of the Skittles was taken by a former refugee from Cyprus and used by Trump without payment, even though it was copyrighted. So Trump Jr. condemns refugees while exploiting them — and his math is as bad as his grammar. According to a report last week from the Cato Institute, a conservative think tank, the odds of an American being killed in a terrorist attack by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion in any given year. That means you’d have to eat 68.7 million handfuls of Skittles before you found Trump Jr.’s poisoned one.

But his father wants us to cower under the beds based on those odds. And to protect us, he advocates exactly what the terrorists advocate: dismantling the Constitution. A few days after the New York and New Jersey bombings, Trump grumbled that freedom of expression and freedom of the press contributed to the spread of terrorism in the United States. He claims he supports freedom of the press, but he also stated that we should not allow certain people to sell magazines: “Somebody will say, ‘Oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech,’” Trump complained. “These are foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people.”

Trump continued his attack on the Constitution by announcing Wednesday that he’d like to see a return of the “stop and frisk” policing policy to end violence in black communities. “They see somebody that’s suspicious, they will profile,” Trump said. “Look what’s going on: Do we really have a choice? We’re trying to be so politically correct in our country, and this is only going to get worse.” In other words, he endorses unreasonable searches without probable cause based on the color of one’s skin. The theory seems to be, “If you’re black, you’re probably guilty of something.” Justifying his stance, he cited his ally Rudy Giuliani’s policy as New York mayor: “In New York City, it was so incredible, the way it worked.” But the New York Civil Liberties Union found that 12 years of stop-and-frisk had little effect on crime, managing only to anger black residents, who were disproportionately targeted. Even more to the point, a federal judge found the policy unconstitutional.

All of this hateful talk from one of the two people with a realistic chance of becoming the next president has an effect. According to a report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino, there were about 260 hate crimes against Muslims last year — the most since 2001, and a 78 percent increase from 2014. Researches have concluded that there might be a “Trump effect” in which his anti-Muslim rhetoric encourages hate crimes against Muslims. In the days immediately after Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entry to the United States, they found an overall 87.5 percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims.

Most Americans are familiar with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous 1933 “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” inaugural address. But the full quote was an even starker warning: “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Fear, Roosevelt said, causes us to retreat from our duty rather than advance our causes.

This year, we are in danger of retreating from building the America we’re all supposed to be proud of, one that protects all and offers equal opportunity to all. The fact that the fear that sends some of us scuttling away is “unreasoning” and “unjustified” makes us cowards. Cowards abandon principles at the first sign of danger and look for witches to burn — or foreigners to blame. The common wisdom is that we are at our most divisive time since the Civil War, divided by differences in starkly contrasting political beliefs. That’s not true. We aren’t divided by political ideology as much as split between those blindly hoping for a savior and those rationally selecting a leader.

Compassion and courage are what makes America great, not hate and fear. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+29 # guomashi 2016-09-23 11:03
One can rarely argue with Kareem's insights, but I think he is slightly askew on this one.

The problems of living life in fear are, indeed, as severe as he details them. But to point to Trump as some kind of source for that fear is probably not totally accurate.

Trump is just a parasite feeding off the fear that the Military Industrial Complex and The Powers that Be have been feeding US as a steady diet since WW II.
Trump is neither articulate nor inspirational enough to change anyone's way of thinking. He is merely giving expression to what has been planted, nurtured, and fertilized (pun intended) for generations among US citizens.
+51 # norman markowitz 2016-09-23 14:10
With the exception of the self-defeating comparison of Hitler, a fascist who launched the greatest war in human history and engaged in mass murder Jews, Slavs,,all political opponents and Fidel Castro, a Socialist revolutionary who defeated the Bay of Pigs bullies of U.S imperialism and brought to his poor country a far greater level of economic, social and "racial" equality and progress than existed anywhere else in Latin America, this is an excellent article. All I would say though as an historian that U.S history was and is an ongoing struggle between the forces of racism and anti-racism, Slaveholder Indian Killer Manifest Destiny President Andrew Jackson vs.Anti-Slavery fighter Thad Stevens who lead the fight for the 13th amendment abolishing slavery, Know Nothing against abolitionist, Strom Thurmond against Martin Luther King with many victories and many setbacks. In that sense, Trump and his ilk are as "American" as Paul Robeson or Angela Davis, as John Wilkes Booth was as "American" as the man he murdered, Abraham Lincoln. But it is Trump's America that is at war with ours and it is his America that we must defeat if ours is to survive
+28 # Caliban 2016-09-23 14:40
Nice history lesson, # norman markowitz.

Fortunately, the 2016 elections give us an excellent opportunity to defeat "Trump's America" by defeating Trump the politician in November.
+13 # NAVYVET 2016-09-23 16:02
Thanks! I like what you wrote!
+3 # bardphile 2016-09-23 14:27
But he's changing the way a lot of people are voting. I think Kareem is right on here, possibly excepting his penultimate sentence that equates blind with Trump and rational with Hillary. I agree with his implied choice; I only wish the choice were that easy to make.
+24 # Kootenay Coyote 2016-09-23 17:52
Trump feeds off the fear, but he also spreads it about.
-12 # lorenbliss 2016-09-23 21:38
@Kootenay Coyote: In fairness, the same must be said of Hillary. Indeed the two are bound in evil twinhood, Succubus and Incubus.

(Vote Green!)
+3 # librarian1984 2016-09-26 06:56
I think they've ramped up the troll budget as the election approaches and Hillary's numbers continue to go down.

Regards, loren. Good to see you.
+6 # dbrize 2016-09-23 12:04
Whenever witnessing a story beginning with concerns for our Constitution I am reminded of years ago comments by the late Joe Sobran:

"Don't worry ladies and gentlemen, the powers that be will NEVER allow a little thing like the Constitution prevent them doing whatever they want".

One would need to go back much further than Trumps ascendance if concern for the constitution matter. The mid twentieth century discovery of "penumbras and emanations" would be a satisfactory start in its current demise. We are in the final stages of its death rattle.

Make believe concerns like the one herein expressed by Jabbar are more like whimsical forays into what used to be. The parade has passed by while we stand on the corner waiting for it.
+2 # RMDC 2016-09-23 13:36
mericans have always prided themselves on our no-person-left- behind ethic.

This is really not true at all. It is one of those platitudes that sounds nice but just is completely false. America has been an apartheid or Jim Crow state for as long as it has been in existence. There are very many people "left behind." Still today there are about 60 million people who have either no healthcare coverage or such bad coverage that it is useless.

Our public high schools only graduate about 2/3 of students. Some big city school districts the high school graduation rate is about 50%. Those without a high school diploma are truly left behind.

Kareem is just wrong in this article. All political candidates try to gain support by scaring people. Bush did it probably more than all of them. Hillary is right up there with her "fear Trump" campaigns.

I like Kareem a lot and respect his views, but the rigors of being a Hillary shill is clouding his thinking. Yes, it is true Trump is a terrible candidate. But so was Bush, McCain, Kerry, Clinton, Romney, Gingrinch, and lots more. Sanders was a good candidate. And there have been other good ones.
+14 # Vardoz 2016-09-23 16:20
Yes and Bernie could have beat Trump yesterday. But the Oligarchy hates Democracy so much that they would rather risk a Trump presidency & run a candidate that actually engaged in illegal election fraud than make Bernie, the real winner. who would be so good for the nation, president. It is soooo enraging. There are complicated economic issues that Trump has no clue about which is so dangerous and which Bernie is totally hip to.
So the Fed is trying to figure a way out of zero interest money. They can't do it. The economy is still on vapors & there is one culprit.
it isn't the Federal Reserve... It's congress.

***Please Read the Links***…/innocent-frauds/…/money-growth-does-not-cause-infla…/…

Remember... the motive of old money... grow the gap. There is no mounting debt problem.
Federal deficits are really awesome & important to run when you have unemployment and a trade deficit... both of which we have because we have an importing economy.

It's not public debt we are in danger from... It's private debt. If we don't solve the student debt issue... we are going down for another massive recession.

Trump is a total sociopath and ignoramus and a robber Baron. He knows nothing about sane economics. We needed an intelligent candidate with integrity like Bernie or Jill.

The First Presidential Debate 2016 is at 9:00 PM - 10:30 PM (ET) on
Monday, September 26
+21 # Powderskier 2016-09-23 14:08
Hiding under the bed is good -- that way you won't become one of the people each year who die falling out of bed -- far more people than die each year from terrorist attacks in the USA!
+18 # REDPILLED 2016-09-23 14:41
Yes. I read recently that a USan is 82 times more likely to die from falling out of bed than from terrorism here.
+17 # dusty 2016-09-23 14:55
Bravo for the article. However the writer made one error in including Khrushchev in the list of bad guys. Khrushchev never attacked the US nor threatened the US. In fact he came to the US, spoke at the UN and traveled around the US in an effort to bring peace. His remark about "burying you" toward the US had to do with economic development -- not warfare as a check of his speech at the UN would show. It is good to get it right. The change in his speech was US propoganda, not truth, and heightened the cold war.
-1 # Bic Parker 2016-09-23 15:09
Khrushchev never threatened the US?

What about the missiles in Cuba?
+20 # NAVYVET 2016-09-23 16:05
You mean we didn't have missiles in Turkey and other places, even nearer to the Soviet Union than the 90 miles Cuba was from us?

The agreement between JFK and Krushchev was that both should pull back, and they did.
-8 # Bic Parker 2016-09-23 16:09
That does not mean they did not threaten us.
-7 # Robbee 2016-09-23 16:02
Dismantle the Constitution is no topic steinbots want to address -

so they duck! -

# guomashi 2016-09-23 11:03
One can rarely argue with Kareem's insights

# dbrize 2016-09-23 12:04
Make believe concerns like the one herein expressed by Jabbar

# RMDC 2016-09-23 13:36
Kareem is just wrong in this article. All political candidates try to gain support by scaring people.

- what goes on here is that steinbots are so concerned that we can be imperiled by hill's presumed warmongering - that we have to let rump end shebang all our civil rights - it's better to have no freedom at all - than be dead

for the rest of us who don't fear hill leading us to nuclear nihillation by russia - steinbots are disgusting to read
+10 # dbrize 2016-09-23 17:40
On your next trip up from the hole lets discuss the Constitution and the abominations your candidates have supported.

Tell us Hillary is against The Patriot Act, NDAA, FISA courts, denial of habeas corpus, presidential "right of assassination" on US citizens without trial or charge and then we can discuss what's "disgusting".

Otherwise retire to your rabbit hole into Wonderland.
-10 # Robbee 2016-09-23 18:23
Quoting dbrize:
On your next trip up from the hole let's discuss the Constitution and the abominations your candidates have supported.

Tell us Hillary is against The Patriot Act, NDAA, FISA courts, denial of habeas corpus, presidential "right of assassination" on US citizens without trial or charge and then we can discuss what's "disgusting".

Otherwise retire to your rabbit hole into Wonderland.

- well d, you seem able to criticize one candidate - but, for a steinbot that's not really any progress? is it?
+4 # dbrize 2016-09-23 18:55
I offered to discuss the topic you brought up, "dismantling the Constitution".

As usual when challenged to genuine debate absent your out of context snippets and lists, you get all rubbery in the legs, weak in the knees and resort to speaking in tongues.

Back down the hole before you miss breakfast with the Queen.

Said the Queen:

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
+7 # economagic 2016-09-23 20:28
And NAFTA, and WTO, and TPP, etc., etc.
0 # lorenbliss 2016-09-23 18:11
Though I normally respect Mr. Abdul-Jabar's journalistic efforts, in this piece he reveals himself as a latter-day, Josef-Goebbels- type propagandist in abject servitude to Hillary the Horrible's campaign apparatus.

Here are two particularly egregious examples:

Quoth Mr. Jabar, labeling the U.S. "the nation that once stood up to bullies like Hitler, Castro and Khrushchev..."

By parroting the Big Lie the socialists Castro and Khrushchev belong in the same category as the fascist Hitler, Mr. Abdul-Jabar helps perpetuate the present-day, malignantly capitalist effort to disguise the USian Empire's own increasingly Nazi-like brand of ever-more-blata nt fascism in a miasma of deliberately induced socioeconomic and historical ignorance. Moreover, to damn Castro and Khrushchev as "bullies" -- the former the liberator of the Cuban Working Class, the latter a hero of de-Stalinizatio n -- is unmistakably akin to Hillary's venomous effort to trash Putin, who saved Russia from Yeltsin's shock-doctrine capitalism (and thus infuriated the USian One Percent), as "the new Hitler."

Then there is Mr. Abdul-Jabar's biggest Big Lie:

"The really disturbing how someone raised in the United States for 16 years...can turn against all our values."

Obviously that "someone" noted the bottomless hypocrisy that is now the Empire's defining trait: mouthing lies about liberty and humanitarianism while increasingly behaving -- at home and abroad -- like a Fourth Reich.
+1 # RMDC 2016-09-23 18:44
loren -- Kareem has become a HIllary surrogate so he has had to adopt her views on Kruschev, Castro, and the rest. None of this makes any sense. More and more people are seeing the world through Hillary's eyes.
-1 # lorenbliss 2016-09-23 19:19
RMDC -- Once again we see the incontrovertibl e evidence Hillary remains a Goldwater Girl, with all the Ayn Rand socioeconomic savagery and JesuNazi better-dead-tha n-red imperialism implicit therein.

Goddess help us if she gets her finger on the Doomsday Button.
-1 # Bryan 2016-09-23 19:33
Being a HIllary surrogate eats your brain and turns you into one of the walking dead...operatin g only on the primitive brain stem.
-1 # skylinefirepest 2016-09-23 19:44
So Kareem, are you saying that it's trump that wants to do away with the 2nd Amendment???
0 # logical1 2016-09-24 00:14
I think Russia felt threatened also. That is why we put missile bases near to Russia.
It was mutual fear and Kennedy squelched it in Cuba.
+3 # logical1 2016-09-24 00:19
Get real! It is not the 2nd amendment that is under attack.
It is machine guns in any or everybody's possession.
When I was young the law was no one could have a military weapon.
Now the gun lobby acts as if it is a human right to have any weapon you choose.
Let's all fo out and get mortars and howitzers, hand grenades. Then when you get furious over your neighbor's tree dropping seeds on your beautiful lawn you can just blow the tree out of the ground or just blow the neighbor and his house up.
You know that is what our forefathers wanted us to be able to do when they wrote the 2nd amendment.
0 # skylinefirepest 2016-09-24 21:50
So about finding me a citizen with a machine gun, okay?? You simply don't understand that we have about one and a quarter firearms for every man, woman, child, other in this country and violent crime has gone DOWN. Your anti-gun diatribe without facts simply makes you look stupid...sorta like slick hilly coughing and hacking about the "Australian solution", right??
+11 # Inspired Citizen 2016-09-23 20:07
"Free-trade agreements" make Hillary's potential dismantling of the Constitution in the name of corporate profits far greater than what Trump will do through the SCOTUS. Voters are not scared about this because the media isn't allowing coverage of the TPP. Neoliberals like Clinton and all supporters of the "fast-track" law that passed last year are attempting an unprecedented coup of our system of laws, and the public is being kept in the dark. After one Fox appearance, MSM made sure I wasn't going to speak through any of them again. The TPP is a redacted narrative of a brazen corporate coup des lois, the sudden imposition of corporate order that renders the 10th Amendment providing for local and regional alternatives to what the Fed has mandated--under stood as federalism, democratic self-government and national courts MOOT!
+3 # librarian1984 2016-09-23 22:29
Can we talk about Hillary's selfishness now? Where is HER self-sacrifice?

She wants to be president so it's okay to steal the nomination and when, despite a mountain of evidence that she is a weak candidate who might lose and will hurt downticket races, has she even considered stepping down so that the legitimate winner can kick Trump's butt?

Where is her sacrifice? The Clintons are some of the most selfish people I've seen. Everyone around them pays for their sins while they skate through reaping in beaucoup bucks.

What do THEY sacrifice?

This relentless bs is ticking me off.

I am not normally an angry person. Before this year I could probably count episodes of intense anger on one hand. But now I feel it often.
+4 # starhelix 2016-09-24 01:16
There is no such thing as Islamic terrorism. Islam has nothing to do with instigating violence in any fashion or form. This is a construct of American propaganda. It's threat inflation gone wild. Rarely is a terrorist connected to a particular mosque or any other religious institution. Further, we don't know what radicalized any of these people. If the US found reason to follow you 24/7 for no apparent reason, you'd be paranoid, too. The 1.7 billion Muslims around the world have been targeted to replace the defunct soviet union as global enemy No. 1. Threat inflation is used to justify our trillion-dollar "defense" and surveillance budgets. The ugly and evil propaganda in our media against lawful Muslims is an outrage. This insane Manichean madness must stop. Self-imposed fear, anger and hatred are the seeds of our own destruction.
-2 # skylinefirepest 2016-09-24 21:47
Starhelix, you're just a frigging idiot, comprende?? Apparently your liberal schools never taught you to read and comprehend.
-1 # henry8 2016-09-26 00:40
So Kareem has declared Dylann Flynn insane. That's why he carried confederate flags, and screamed racist words in the black church before he shot the worshippers. If I were the defense, I'd move Heaven and Hell to get Kareem on that jury. This is a defense that protects murderers from life sentence. Flynn was a lone wolf who did not reflect the feelings of his environment. He is insane. Yeah, Right. I didn't think that Kareem could top his column on Black Lives Matter when he said that we need to really focus on black on black crime. THAT was really the issue. But in thus column, he tops the first. This was when I realized why, out of all the truly brilliant black intellectuals who should have a Time magazine column, Time had chosen a basketball player, admittedly one of the greatest of all time. They wanted a black athlete for diversity--and one who opposed diversity. I suppose Bin-Laden was insane also. I cannot wait for Kareem's take on it. Meanwhile, as Maureen Dowd said to President Obama, "Get some black associates." Kareem, take her advice.

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