OUR STARS

1. It’s Tuesday, December 15, 2015.

2. George Washington died 216 years ago today. He had caught a cold and it just got worse over a couple of days. This sounds weird to us now, and perhaps Bill O’Reilly will fabricate one of his “history” books telling how the Father of Our Country was murdered.

Washington was only 67 years old, although I suspect that was thought of as a long life in 1799.

3. Some idiots attempted to desecrate a mosque in California over the weekend. They did it by scrawling “JESUS” on fences surrounding the grounds.

The Jesus they’re referring to is the same guy who’s venerated as a prophet in Islam. It’s a little like spray-painting “JOHN THE BAPTIST” on the side of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

It’s wrong and it’s ugly, but you’re not insulting the faith. You’re just displaying your complete ignorance to the rest of the world.

4. Speaking of idiots who try to trash Muslims, tonight’s Republican presidential debate should be interesting.

You can bet – and being in Las Vegas, you’ll hear that verb a lot – that questions about Trump’s statements on Muslims will come up. What people will be watching for is whether Trump tries to back away from those remarks by saying the losers in the news media took his words out of context. Or will he double down (again with the Vegas stuff) and say people are overreacting to what he thinks are his sensible ideas for keeping the country safe?

The debate will also be an opportunity for the other candidates to try to distinguish themselves as somewhat less crazy alternatives to Trump. Except, of course, for Ted Cruz, who is trying to show he is the equally crazy alternative.

It should be interesting.

5. When Edward R. Murrow ended his famous broadcast about the tactics of Sen. Joe McCarthy, he quoted from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” McCarthy, Murrow said, didn’t create the fear that was sweeping America, he merely exploited it. “The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves,” Murrow said.

I was reminded of this during the weekend. On Friday, USA Today published a wonderful op-ed piece by my friend and former colleague Shaheen Pasha. She wrote of how her eight-year-old son was frightened by the talk from Trump of registering Muslims and barring their entry into the U.S. Were they going to force him and his family to leave their beautiful hometown and the life they’ve created? Trump had replaced the usual bogeymen in her young son’s mind.

Since then, Ms. Pasha has tried to keep a lower profile. She’s read the crazy comments that accompanied her story about how her son was just going to join ISIS anyway. And she’d heard word that were trolls about looking for images of her and her family online that could be used to shame or embarrass them.

As was the case with McCarthy, Trump isn’t saying something that others with less of a megaphone don’t already think. He’s just exploiting it – to him, it’s all part of the art of the deal.

To Muslim kids who are hearing more slurs than usual thanks to the Trump phenomenon, it’s heartbreaking and scary, and we can only hope it’s not also embittering.

And for no good reason. Our country is addicted to anger, and as long as pushers like Trump are around, and we can’t break it cold turkey, we’re stuck in a very bad place.

The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.

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