Trump wins competition for who can say the worst thing about Obama’s mosque visit, but it’s close

President Obama visited the Islamic Society of Baltimore yesterday, marking the first time during his presidency that he has visited a mosque. He gave a completely non-controversial speech about how acceptance is good, discrimination is bad and that anti-Muslim bigotry has become an especially serious problem recently in the wake of  the Paris and San Bernardino shootings.

At least, that’s what people listening to the speech heard. If you’re Marco Rubio, all you heard was the president “pitting people against each other.” As he said, quoted by the Huffington Post:

President Obama speaking at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, screenshot via WhiteHouse.gov

President Obama speaking at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, screenshot via WhiteHouse.gov

I’m tired of being divided against each other for political reasons like this president’s done. Always pitting people against each other. Always! Look at today: He gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.

Of course there’s discrimination in America, of every kind. But the bigger issue is radical Islam. And by the way, radical Islam poses a threat to Muslims themselves. They argue that. They’ll tell you that. But again, it’s this constant pitting people against each other. I can’t stand that. It’s hurting our country badly.

For Rubio, discrimination is bad, but Islam is worse, so until we kill all the terrorists dead, it’s okay to put up with discrimination against Muslims. Noted.

But Rubio’s derping in response to Obama’s mosque visit couldn’t hold a candle to Donald Trump, though, who brushed past the “divisiveness” dog whistle and just flat-out called Obama a Muslim. Said Trump, asked by Greta Van Susteren about Obama’s visit (emphasis added):

I don’t have much thought. I think he can go to lots of places. Right now, I dunno…maybe he feels comfortable there. We have a lot of problems in this country, Greta, a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque…so that’s his decision. That’s fine.

43 percent of Republicans still believe President Obama is a Muslim, according to a CNN/ORC poll released in September.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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