Jeet Heer, The New Republic:
The bipartisan consensus against Islamophobia that existed in 2001 has collapsed in the current election. Donald Trump has polarized the Republican Party with his call for an indefinite moratorium on Muslims being admitted into the United States. Although this specific policy has been condemned by most of his rivals, they’ve all echoed Trump’s clash of civilization rhetoric in one form or another, ranging from limiting Muslim refugees into the United States to monitoring (and possibly closing down) mosques. Senator Marco Rubio is considered more moderate than Trump, but he made an analogy between Muslims and Nazis. Speaking with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Morning last month, Rubio argued that refusing to say that radical Islam is a threat is “like saying we weren’t at war with Nazis ’cause we were afraid to offend some Germans who may have been members of the Nazi party, but weren’t violent themselves.” By Rubio’s analogy, jihadis are the most violent Nazis while ordinary Muslims are run-of-the-mill Nazi party members.
Hillary Clinton and the other Democrats have been quick to seize upon such remarks as a way of distinguishing the two parties. In a “message to Muslims,” Clinton pointedly called out not just Trump but the Republican party at large. “Now some Republican candidates are saying that Donald Trump’s latest comments have gone too far,” Clinton noted. “But the truth is, many GOP candidates have also said extreme things about Muslims.” Both Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have made similar comments.
More broadly, the views of the candidates reflect a sharp partisan divide in the electorate. According to polling in November, 57 percent of Democrats support a plan to accept 10,00 Syrian refugees, as against 15 percent of Republicans.