My neighborhood of Chevy Chase is a leafy and peaceful slice of Northwest Washington. But this week, the news here is of a woman assaulted outside the local Starbucks by a Donald Trump supporter, she says — for the sin of being Muslim.
Police on Monday released surveillance video showing a heavyset white woman shouting at, and then pouring a bottle of liquid onto, a woman in a Muslim headscarf seated outside a Starbucks on a recent weeknight. Police are investigating a possible hate crime.
The victim said the attacker called her a “worthless piece of Muslim trash” and a “terrorist.” And the attacker said she was supporting Trump because he would send the Muslims “back to where you came from.”
“She mentioned this man’s name to me as a way of saying he’s going to put all of you out of this country,” the woman, who asked not to be identified, told me Tuesday.
But this is her country. She’s African American, born in Minneapolis, reared in Chicago and now living in the District — where, until now, she never thought she’d have a foul-smelling liquid poured on her for wearing a headscarf.
Trump won the Indiana primary easily Tuesday night, giving him an almost certain grip on the Republican presidential nomination. Now Republicans across the country will be forced to make a moral choice: Do they associate themselves with the grotesque things that Trump and his supporters have said and done? Or do they refuse to allow such things to be said and done in their names?
At the core of Trump’s candidacy so far has been his disparagement of women, immigrants, Latinos and African Americans, his mockery of the disabled, his play with Jewish stereotypes and his demonizing of Muslims. They all should be taken into account, but for now let’s focus on the last.
He falsely said there were “thousands” cheering the collapse of the World Trade Center from New Jersey, with its “heavy Arab population.”
Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
Trump continues at rallies to repeat an apocryphal story about U.S. Gen. John Pershing executing Muslim prisoners in the Philippines decades ago using bullets dipped in pig’s blood.
At a rally, a Trump supporter called President Obama a Muslim and said Muslims are “a problem in this country.” Trump allowed both of those statements to stand.
Trump previously led the “birther” challenge to Obama’s birth certificate and speculated, “Maybe it says he is a Muslim.”
Muslims have been taunted outside Trump events, and at one event in South Carolina, a woman in a hijab who stood in silent protest was escorted out by police as Trump supporters booed her, chanted Trump’s name and suggested she was a terrorist.
Trump can’t be blamed for everything his followers do. But his ascent has coincided with a rise in the number of anti-Muslim incidents to the highest level the Council on American-Islamic Relations has ever found. A sampling from the past two months:
●A self-proclaimed Trump supporter was sentenced in California for making death threats outside a Muslim center and for building pipe bombs.
●Demonstrators claiming to be Trump supporters staged public desecrations of the Koran in Atlanta and Phoenix.
●A man chanting Trump slogans at a gas station shouted “brown trash” and other epithets at a Muslim who is student-body vice president at Wichita State University in Kansas. (The Trump backer and a friend of the Muslim student were charged for fighting.)
●A man in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., was captured on cellphone video chanting “Trump!” and yelling “Kill the Muslims.”
●And here in Washington, my Chevy Chase neighbor was attacked on her way home from her county-government job when she stopped outside Starbucks to use the WiFi. She says she told the responding officers that her attacker had invoked Trump, but that detail apparently didn’t make the police report.
The victim said the liquid poured on her didn’t harm her. But the talk of Trump’s coming vengeance on Muslims scared her. “It could get a lot worse for Muslims in America,” she said. “For people here on the fence about who to vote for, maybe this will help them make that decision.”