Walking my dog on the beach this morning, I ran into Bernadette, who walks her dog at low tide along with about a dozen other regulars who know each other by their dogs. I know all the dogs' names but Bernadette is one of the few owners whose name I know. Bernadette is French, and she has a little black dog which is one of those little dogs who doesn't know she is a little dog and she gives no ground to bigger dogs, much like her owner.
I asked Bernadette if she had any relatives in Nice, and she said no. Her family is from the West Coast of France. But, it turned out Bernadette grew up in Morocco and read the Koran in school. She said France has tried the "tough" approach to Islam, declaring that France is a secular country, which officially embraces no religion and as part of that forbids expressions of religious belief in public places--so no ha-bib or veils or head scarves in public schools paid for by public funds or in other places of public business. But that has not worked very well, in terms of forcing a more civil society, as the attacks in Paris and now Nice reveal.
In fact, there are "ghettos" which encircle Paris, populated by French Muslims of North African descent, often places of poverty, resentment, ferment. Some might say, this is the price of colonialism, just as American inner cities were once the legacy of slavery.
What has astonished Bernadette is the appeal of Donald Trump, who is the alienate-or in chief with respect to Muslims. Why would you want to institute an approach which has failed so miserably in France? As if by marginalizing, scapegoating people you can make them behave better?
For Bernadette all religions are pernicious--people do things to be good Muslims or good Christians they would be horrified by outside the context of religious action: A man can shoot children, blow them up with a bomb because God demands it.
It's the old story of Abraham and Isaac. God told me to kill this child and you never stop to ask: Wait, would God really demand such a thing? Could I be mistaken about having heard the voice of God on this one?
I pointed out something I heard David Brooks say: Trump has been polling at 40% from the very beginning. His numbers never vary. Which goes back to that infamous Mitt Romney statement about the 47%. But in Trump's case, that seems to apply. Forty percent of the citizens of the United States are certifiably insane, and it's simply up to the other 60% to actually go to the polls.
Bernie Sanders got that right.
The wonder is about portions of that 60%. I hear people say they could never vote for Hillary. As if not voting for Hillary is not voting for Donald Trump.
What are they thinking?
It should not be forgot Adolph Hitler won his 1933 election with 33% of the vote.
Paul Ryan was pressed yesterday on whether he thinks Donald Trump would make a good President. And he insisted that is not the question. "The question is whether Donald Trump would make a better President than Hillary Clinton."
The same question has got to be asked by the Democrats: "Do you think Hillary Clinton would be a better President than Donald Trump?"