In America B.T. (” Before Trump “), if a Republican nominee want to get attract headlines, build supporting among the GOP base and possibly even get an invite on Fox News, all they had to do was say a few demonizing terms about Muslims. For instance, in January 2015, then-GOP governor of Louisiana and potential presidential candidate, Bobby Jindal, stimulated headlines with his fact-free allegation Muslims had enforced” no-go zones” in U.S. cities where non-Muslims were not welcome.

Then, in September 2015, we ascertained GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson, a man who always looks like someone just woke him up from a sleep, proclaim that a Muslim shouldn’t be allowed to serve as president of the United States. Carson received so much press in response to that statement that even Donald Trump enviously commented that Carson was ” getting a lot of ink on Muslims .”

And then came Trump–the LeBron James of anti-Muslim dislike. Trump knew that he needed to overshadow Carson’s anti-Muslim remarks in order to get the big press. So what did Trump do? Well, a few months later Trump took anti-Muslim hate to degrees never seen before by calling for a ” total and complete shutdown “~ ATAGEND of Muslims coming into the United States. From there, Trump added in March 2016 that ” Islam dislikes us .”~ ATAGEND Both remarks made an avalanche of media coverage for Trump.

Consequently, in America A.T. (” After Trump “), if you are a Republican candidate looking to grab headlines by demonizing Muslims, you have to really bring your -AGame. Anything less merely won’t spark the national media concern.

But now it looks like we have a possible new competitor for the anti-Muslim abhor crown. Meet Republican state Sen. Neal Tapio, who hails from the” Great Faces, Great Places” nation of South Dakota.

Tapio, who predictably was Trump’s South Dakota campaign director in 2016, has in the past spewed run-of-the-mill anti-Muslim garbage. But last week Tapio was so outraged by an event that he took his game to another level. What set him off? An interfaith event held at the South Dakota state Capitol in Pierre( pronounced “peer”) sponsored by the South Dakota Lutheran Church.

Typically, even right-wing Republicans are cool with bringing people together of other faiths. But not Tapio, who is desperate for media attention bearing in mind the fact that he has all but formally announced he’s seeking the GOP nomination for a seat in Congress this year( the state has just one at-large district ).

” Interfaith dialogue is a part of a campaign, it’s a silent component, it’s a part of a lane of taking away the Christian fabric of our nation .”

— Sen. Neal Tapio( R-SD )

So a day before the event that assembled approximately 50 local religion leaders, Tapio sent out a press release slamming the participants, claiming,” A simple check of their social media accounts will verify these people violently resist President Trump and his efforts to keep America safe .”

Tapio’s statement continued by strangely attacking the Southern Poverty Law Center( SPLC) for labeling as a dislike group president James Dobson, a virulent anti-LGBT activist who in the past called for people to shoot transgender women if they enter the women’s bathroom.( Neither the SPLC nor Dobson had any connection to this interfaith event .) Tapio’s statement did protect religious freedom for all,” regardless of whether you are a Bhuddist[ sic ], Hindu, Muslim, Christian or atheist .” Funny, he left out Jews, kind of the same lane his political hero left out mentioning Jews in his Holocaust Remembrance Day statement last year.

But Tapio was not done. He then presented up at the government Capitol on the day of the interfaith collect to declare his opposition. After first taking an awkward photo with participants in the event, Tapio began to lecture them about why Muslims need to be banned and other typical Trumpian garbage. The interfaith group responded in perfect style: They began singing” America the Beautiful” to drown him out.

Tapio, though, refused to be overshadowed by people who were celebrating American values. So, he made his route up to the local reporters. And then this GOP state senator constructed the most jaw-dropping and vile statement about interfaith activities that I’ve ever heard, declaring that:” Interfaith dialogue is a part of a conflict, it’s a silent part, it’s a part of a way of taking away the Christian fabric of our commonwealth .”

Think about that for a moment. Tapio wants to keep people of different religions segregated from each other. And Tapio apparently views the mingling of people of various types of faiths as a threat to Christianity.

But Tapio still was not done. He then made it clear that he was prepared to wage a jihad to keep the faiths apart, telling reporters:” Now some people are OK with that, that’s their prerogative, but there’s American patriots that want to fight .” Is Tapio threatening violence to ensure the segregation of faiths?

Tapio, who last year greeted anti-Muslim activist David Horowitz to South Dakota, also told the media that Islam is” a hateful and deadly ideology .” He then concluded his rant with a comment that was hilarious in light of its unintended incongruity:” When you politicize faith, it’s a peril .”

Amazingly you have a human who is calling for policies like a Muslim registry, banning Muslims, and even railing against interfaith attempt all to preserve the “Christian fabric” of our commonwealth alerting about the politicization of religion.

Now to be clear, many South Dakotans are outraged by Tapio’s comments as witnessed by op-eds slamming him. But if Tapio wins the GOP nomination for Congress, he will likely win the general election in this very cherry-red state and become a member of the House of Representatives. That means he will no longer simply be South Dakota’s problem but all of ours.

As one South Dakotan op-ed novelist noted while denouncing Tapio’s bigotry,” If on occasion, we elect someone who cannot visualize the very best, we correct the mistake at the next ballot box .” Here’s hoping he’s correct about the person or persons of South Dakota because the last thing we need in Washington , D.C ., is another bigot.

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