Donald Trump is revealing himself to be one of the nastiest presidential candidates since George Wallace ran in 1968. Like Mr. Wallace, Mr. Trump is running on a platform of hatred and fear, and their common appeal is to the less-educated white voter who fears displacement as the world moves on. Mr. Trump’s latest untruth is that he saw with his own eyes thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. It never happened, and Mr. Trump is either misremembering or is lying.
Mr. Trump said in an interview with ABC yesterday, “There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations,” Trump said Sunday. “They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well covered at the time.”
In fact, it was not well-covered at the time because it did not happen. Numerous politicians from New Jersey have said so, and Mr. Trump’s campaign is unable to provide even a single video or photo. It is untrue.
“Trump is plain wrong, and he is shamefully politicizing an emotionally charged issue,” Steve Fulop, the Democratic Mayor of Jersey City, said in a statement. “No one in Jersey City cheered on September 11.”
Rival for the Republican nomination, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said, “I do not remember that. And so, it’s not something that was part of my recollection. I think if it had happened, I would remember it. But, you know, there could be things I forget, too. I don’t remember that. No.” Well, fair-enough, he’s prepared to be persuaded that it occurred if shown evidence that it did. It’s just that he himself doesn’t remember that. In short, he was too cautious and polite to call Mr. Trump a liar.
Less restrained was PolitiFact’s Lauren Carroll, who wrote in a “Pants on Fire” ruling (that is a category of statement so contrary to truth that a children’s rhyme about lying is apt) “If thousands and thousands of people were celebrating the 9/11 attacks on American soil, many people beyond Trump would remember it. And in the 21st century, there would be video or visual evidence.”
“Trump has defamed the Muslim communities of New Jersey,” Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler wrote. “He cannot simply assert something so damning; he must provide some real evidence or else issue an apology.”
NBC’s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann wrote a note calling Mr. Trump “The Post-Truth 2016 Candidate.” The note says, ‘Let’s not sugarcoat what’s going on. The GOP front-runner is spreading hateful falsehoods about blacks and Muslims’.”
Absent evidence that Mr. Trump is correct, this latest episode further illustrates why he is unfit to lead a real estate corporation let alone the United States of America. One of two things is happening. Either he is making statements that he misremembers, and when confronted with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he doesn’t back down from his error. That is a quality a leader cannot afford — stubborn ignorance. Alternatively, Mr. Trump is lying to generate fear among some GOP voters against their neighbors who happen to have a different ancestry. That is simply un-American.
This journal, well-aware of the liable laws and cognizant of Mr. Trump’s ability to pay huge legal bills, will opt to state that Mr. Trump is misremembering just as Mr. Reagan misremembered liberating a Nazi concentration camp. Mr. Reagan spent World War II in California. Mr. Reagan also had Alzheimer’s toward the end of his life. This journal encourages Mr. Trump to see his neurologist as soon as possible.