On Thursday, at a town hall event in New Hampshire, Donald Trump called on a man in the audience who asserted that President Obama is Muslim and that America needs to "get rid" of Muslims. Trump, nodding throughout, responded, "We're going to be looking at that."
The video is positively chilling for the hate in the man's voice, and for Trump's willingness to glibly accept what certainly sounds like a call to mass murder Muslim Americans. Here is the full exchange:
MAN IN AUDIENCE: We have a problem in this country, it's called Muslims. We know our current president is one. You know he's not even an American. Birth certificate, man!
DONALD TRUMP: We need this question!
MAN IN AUDIENCE: But anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That's my question: when can we get rid of 'em?
DONALD TRUMP: We're gonna be looking at a lot of different things. And you know that a lot of people are saying that, and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We're going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.
Asked later about the comments, Trump's team sent this not very encouraging response to NBC and other outlets:
Asked for more on Muslim q answer, Trump camp sends from him: "Christians need support in this country. Their religious liberty is at stake"— Kailani Koenig (@kailanikm) September 18, 2015
Trump camp: "Mr. Trump was referring to the need to protect Christians religious liberties as his previous statement says and nothing more."— Kailani Koenig (@kailanikm) September 18, 2015
There are 2.6 million Muslim Americans in the United States. Over the past year and a half, they have been enduring a rising tide of Islamophobia, or the fear-based hatred of Muslims, which manifested just this week in a Texas school's decision to arrest and suspend Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old Muslim boy, for bringing in a homemade clock to show his engineering teacher.
So while these comments from Trump and his supporter will likely be covered as just another outlandish statement from an outlandish politician, in fact what he represents is a widespread and growing problem of anti-Muslim bigotry that can be clearly seen in pop culture and TV news and right-wing politics – and that has already produced some violence against Muslim Americans.