Reprinted from The Nation
The horrific terror attacks in Brussels on Tuesday morning inspired expressions of sympathy, solidarity, and, from the two leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, painfully predictable scapegoating and torture talk.
Cruz, who is emerging as the favorite of establishment Republicans in their efforts to prevent Donald Trump from securing their party's nomination, had to repeat his talking points in a statement posted on Facebook. He then extended his extremism with a statement released by his campaign and his Senate office that declared: "We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized."
Those words confirmed that Cruz is every bit as reactionary and irresponsible as Trump. Indeed, Senator Barbara Boxer, D-California, felt it was necessary to remind the Texan that: "You are running for President of the United States -- not some authoritarian police state."
Of course, the front-runner for the Republican nod did not suffer the indignity of having to craft reactionary statements for posting on social media. Enjoying his usual wall-to-wall television coverage, Trump just phoned in his xenophobia and hatemongering.
The billionaire renewed the crudest messages of a candidacy that has been built around the exploitation of anti-Muslim, anti-refugee, anti-immigrant bigotries. Even before many of the details of the attacks (which killed dozens and injured hundreds) were known, Trump was offering interviewers of messy mix of extreme responses, finger-pointing, and predictions of peril.
John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.
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