Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.) says anti-Muslim political rhetoric is creating a “toxic environment,” which he suggests may be putting Muslims like him in harm’s way.
“Politicians including myself should not contribute to the toxic environment that we’re living in,” Carson told The Washington Post on Wednesday. “We’re seeing a rise in xenophobia, we’re seeing a rise in Islamophobia.”
Carson, one of two Muslims in Congress, said he received a death threat Monday. He revealed the threat Tuesday on CNN while discussing leading GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s proposal for a “total and complete” ban on Muslims entering the United States.
Carson called Trump “a modern P.T. Barnum” — a reference to the famous American showman — while lamenting the rhetoric on the campaign trail.
“What concerns me is you have the demagoguery taking place from people seeking to become president of the United States,” he told interviewer Jake Tapper. “You have other politicians who are joining the bandwagon and who are fanning the flames of bigotry. That concerns me because we’re putting people — i.e. Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and others — into the line of fire exposing them to death threats, discrimination at the workplace and assaults.”
Carson, a former police officer, was quick to note in his interview with The Post that Monday’s death threat was just one of dozens he’s received since he joined Congress in 2008.
“I think the threats have pretty much been consistent,” he said. “They’ve been based on religion, they’ve been based on race, of course … being suspicious of me because I’m Muslim, that kind of thing.”
The recent threat was referred to Capitol Police, according to a spokeswoman, who noted that threats tend to spike when Carson is in the news, including in January when he became the first Muslim to sit on the House Intelligence Committee.
— New Day (@NewDay) December 9, 2015
While Carson said the threats are worrying, his biggest concern, he said, is keeping his family safe and doing his job.
“I go to work with a great sense of pride, wanting to protect Hoosiers and Americans, regardless of race, creed or color,” he said.