After hearing the terrible news out of Orlando on Sunday, Donald Trump expressed his profound gratitude to all the first responders — which is to say, the first people to respond to his tweets about the shooting — for congratulating him on having been proven right about Islamic terrorism. The Republican nominee proceeded to call for President Obama’s resignation, for Hillary Clinton to end her campaign, and for the U.S. government to implement his Muslim ban. Only weeks ago, Trump had tried to distance himself from the latter, arguing that his proposal to nullify the First Amendment protection against religious discrimination was merely “a suggestion.” The fact that Trump revived the ban in the wake of the Orlando shooting, which was committed by a U.S. citizen, suggests that the most alarmist interpretation of the GOP nominee’s proposal — that it would not merely restrict Muslim immigration, but the freedom of American Muslims already in this country — is correct.
It would be hard to imagine a more distasteful and dangerous way to respond to the mass murder at the Pulse nightclub. But Donald Trump has a good imagination.
One day after calling for Obama to resign in recompense for his failure to say the words “radical Islamic terror,” Trump suggested there could be an unspeakable motive behind that failure.
“He doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands. It’s one or the other,” Trump said of Obama on Fox & Friends Monday morning.”We’re led by a man who is a very – look, we’re led by a man that either is, is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind. And the something else in mind, you know, people can’t believe it. People cannot – they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the ways he acts and can’t even mention the words radical Islamic terrorism. There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. [emphasis added]”
Here, Trump appears to be gesturing toward the far-right conspiracy theory, popularized in Dinesh D’Souza’s 2016: Obama’s America, that the president wishes to undermine the United States so as to fulfill his father’s anti-colonial ambitions. (This was the logic behind Rubio’s infamous refrain, “Barack Obama knows exactly what he’s doing.”) But even in D’Souza’s hallucinatory narrative, Obama’s means of sabotage are limited to betraying our allies overseas while running up the federal deficit — not aiding and abetting the mass murder of American citizens on U.S. soil. By saying Obama may have “something else in mind” with regard to Orlando, something “inconceivable,” Trump is winking at the darkest corner of the far-right fever swamp, the one occupied by people who believe Obama is not just a secret Muslim, but a radical Muslim trying to impose Sharia law on the United States. People like Trump’s former butler.
To appreciate how profoundly irresponsible it is for the Republican nominee to make such insinuations, please review that butler’s various fantasies about hanging the first black president on the White House lawn.