Moments ago, the latest high profile media figure to boldly go into the rapidly spreading Trump "ban Muslims" scandal, was none other than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who in a post on his social network, took the other side of Trump declaring that "Muslims are always welcome here" and that Facebook will "fight to protect your rights and create a peaceful and safe environment for you." It was not immediately clear if the "community" he was welcoming Muslims to is the United States or the online world of Facebook ad clickers.
His full Facebook post (which has so far been "liked" over 215K times) is below:
I want to add my voice in support of Muslims in our community and around the world.
After the Paris attacks and hate this week, I can only imagine the fear Muslims feel that they will be persecuted for the actions of others.
As a Jew, my parents taught me that we must stand up against attacks on all communities. Even if an attack isn't against you today, in time attacks on freedom for anyone will hurt everyone.
If you're a Muslim in this community, as the leader of Facebook I want you to know that you are always welcome here and that we will fight to protect your rights and create a peaceful and safe environment for you.
Having a child has given us so much hope, but the hate of some can make it easy to succumb to cynicism. We must not lose hope. As long as we stand together and see the good in each other, we can build a better world for all people.
To some online commentators, the statement rings of hollow cynicism, since the gentrified Palo Alto enclave for uber wealthy tech millionaires where Zuckerberg lives is hardly the diverse melting pot of social, ethical and religious strife and tensions, which have come to characterize many of the world's geographic areas where cohabitation between Muslims and other religions has in recent months unleashed an unprecedented backlash - especially in Europe - against Muslims.
To others, Zucherberg's statement comes as a surprise that the social media mogul, who has until now resisted involvement in any openly political debates, has decided to so loudly wage right into this one.
The reason is that according to a just released poll, nearly two-thirds of likely GOP primary voters support Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from coming into the country. The latest Bloomberg Politics/Purple Strategies PulsePoll released Wednesday reveals that the real estate mogul’s latest remarks are backed by 65 percent of likely GOP voters. When told both sides of the argument, support for Trump’s proposal remained relatively unchanged at 64 percent.
The online poll conducted Wednesday also found that about 37 percent of those surveyed would be more likely to vote for the businessman after his call to temporarily halt Muslims from entering the United States until elected leaders can “figure out what’s going on.”
The risk that Zuckerberg is taking is that by openly endorsing the other side of the argument, while making an ethical stand he is also jeopardizing a business model which relies on the goodwill of its users, many of whom may be openly antagonized by Zuckerberg's moral stance. And since that 65% of GOP potential GOP voters, whose ideological position is now diametrically opposed to that of the Facebook CEO, is in the tens of millions of Americans, one wonder just how many of the 167 million in North American Daily Active Users...
... Zuckerberg is willing to sacrifice in order to make his stand?
Meanwhile, even as support for Trump's proposal appears to be widespread within the republican constituency, others don't share that view as can be seen by what Atlanta police have dubbed to be "Trump Swastika" which have been reported in various locations in Atlanta.
Finally, taking a campaign that has been unorthodox, to say the least, from the start, late yesterday one of the biggest losers from Trump's relentless popularity, Jeb Bush, went on twitter to speculate that Trump's campaign is nothing but a conspiracy with Hillary, one which will "put here in the White House"
The Telegraph had some thoughts on the matter:
Could Donald Trump be doing all this to wreck the Republican Party and clear the path for his old friend Hillary Clinton to take the White House. Here's the supporting evidence, such as it is:
- As recently as 2012 Trump said this of Mrs Clinton: "Hillary Clinton I think is a terrific woman. I am biased because I have known her for years. I live in New York. She lives in New York. I really like her and her husband both a lot. I think she really works hard."
- Trump previously donated money to Mrs Clinton in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
- Trump has donated more than $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation.
- Trump's daughter Ivanka is close friends with Chelsea Clinton.
- In 2005 Hillary Clinton attended Mr Trump's wedding to Melania Knauss, his current wife, in Florida.
- Trump was a registered Democrat between 2001 and 2009 before switching to the Republican Party.
- It all adds up for Jeb Bush, whose campaign has been killed by Trump's popularity. Bush said: "Maybe Donald negotiated a deal with his buddy Hillary Clinton. Continuing this path will put her in the White House."
Or perhaps, the conspiracy is even greater.
According to the Chief Investment Officer of CalSTRS, "a presidential matchup between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton could sap a full percentage point from anticipated growth in the gross domestic product, the chief investment officer of the second-largest U.S. pension fund said."
“Can you imagine a whole year of Trump and Hillary going at each other?” Christopher Ailman, who manages the California State Teachers’ Retirement System’s $184 billion portfolio, said Tuesday on Bloomberg Television. “It’s going to be a drag on the economy.”
Ailman said 70 percent of the U.S. economy is based on consumer sales, and a divisive presidential campaign is likely to depress consumer confidence. He didn’t comment on Clinton but said Trump’s statements “reverberate” across the global economy. The Republican real-estate mogul, who leads in all national polls for his party’s nomination, this week called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.
“I’m worried about 2016,” said Ailman, who has a degree in business economics. “If you took everybody’s GDP projections of 2 to 3 percent growth, I’m sad to say you could probably take a full percentage point off of that.”
In a year in which a record El Nino is expected to make the GDP-crushing "harsh winter" a distant memory, perhaps a Trump vs Clinton campaign is precisely what the soon to be much weaker US economy needs as the Fed is in urgently need of an alibi when the "expected" growth resulting from the December 16 rate hike fails to materialize - and in fact leads to just the opposite outcome - and the Fed is forced to backtrack instead, launching either NIRP or more QE or both. Thanks to Trump and Hillary going "at each other", of course.
What the answer is we don't know, although as US society appears ready to split along racial, social, cultural and religious lines, we have somehow never felt quite so entertained even as society is quietly tearing itself apart.