Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw called Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim entry to the U.S. “dangerous” on Tuesday, linking the real estate mogul to some of the darkest periods in Western history.
“Donald Trump’s promise to ban all Muslims from coming to America is more -- much more -- than a shouted campaign provocation,” Brokaw said in a 2-minute editorial segment at the close of Tuesday evening's NBC Nightly News. Brokaw is now a special correspondent for NBC News.
“Trump’s statement, even in a season of extremes, is a dangerous proposal that overrides history, the law and the foundation of America itself,” he continued.
Brokaw argued that Trump represents a strain of intolerance and fear-mongering that has contributed to some of the Western world’s worst crimes in the twentieth century.
“In my lifetime alone, we have been witness to the consequences of paranoia overriding reason,” said Brokaw, who is 75.
He went on to cite historical evidence of the human costs of allowing fear and prejudice to dictate policy, while images of the events he described appeared on screen. His examples included the “herding” of Japanese-Americans into internment camps, the Nazi genocide of Jews during World War II and its consequences for Germany, the "anti-communist witch hunt" instigated by Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) in the early 1950s and the persistence of institutionalized discrimination against African Americans through the 1960s.
Brokaw warned that repeating those mistakes by demonizing all Muslims for the crimes of the self-described Islamic State would also have negative consequences.
“Yes, the jihadists are radical Muslims, but they are a minority in a world with a billion and a half Muslims,” Brokaw added. “Even so, defeating ISIS will be long, hard and expensive -- perhaps even more so now, because ISIS is likely to use Donald Trump’s statements as a recruiting tool.”
The storied journalist finished the segment with a visit to the Arlington National Cemetery grave site of Karim Khan, a Muslim American who was killed at age 20 while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq in 2007.
“Mr. Trump cannot exclude him from America,” Brokaw concluded. “He has a permanent home here in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery.”
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