Donald Trump Just Failed to Reject a Very Hateful Question About Muslims

September 17th 2015

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has made a lot of offensive remarks since he decided to enter the race three months ago—characterizing undocumented workers from Mexico as rapists, for example—but on Thursday, he added another demographic to the list of minority groups in America that he's casually marginalized: Muslims.

At a campaign rally held in Rochester, New Hampshire, a man wearing a Trump t-shirt addressed the candidate and spoke into a microphone, saying "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," the man added.

It was an opportunity for Trump to take the higher road, but rather than correct the man or even simply ignore the question, he responded that "we need this question," with a sheepish smile.

"That's my question," the man followed up. "When can we get rid of them?"

And Trump took the bait, returning to a talking point that he told CNN's Anderson Cooper he was no longer interested in talking about—President Obama's birthplace.

"We are going to be looking at a lot of different things," Trump said. "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 a lot of different things."

During the 2008 presidential campaign season, Sen. John McCain urged his supporters to keep personal attacks against Obama at a minimum, including one woman who described his Democratic opponent as "an Arab."

"I can't trust Obama," the woman said, addressing McCain. "I have read about him and he's not, he's not uh — he's an Arab. He's not—" But McCain cut her off in a moment that many felt was a reflection of the candidate's good character.

"No, ma'am. He's a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign's all about. He's not [an Arab]," McCain said, definitively.

Trump has been a long-standing "birther" who made headlines in 2011 after calling on the president to release a long-form copy of his birth certificate. He has maintained that Obama was not born in the U.S., and though he did not explicitly agree with the supporter who spoke at the New Hampshire rally, he certainly did not disagree. And his silence spoke volumes.

Trump's apparent acceptance of the notion that Muslims pose a problem in the U.S. is an offensive suggestion that falls into the same category of Islamophobia that resulted in Ahmed Mohamed's arrest in Irving, Texas, this week. That Trump has held true to his birther stance is no surprise, but as the GOP front runner, but his repeated attempts has some observers wondering whether his attempts to appease his conservative base by offending minority groups will eventually catch up with him.

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