A clash of civilizations is truly brewing. But it’s not Islam versus the West, as right-wing pundits want you to believe. Rather it’s the Trump administration versus Islam. And no one is happier about this than ISIS and Al Qaeda.
Donald Trump, without a doubt, spewed the most viciously anti-Muslim comments of any person elected President of our great nation. Trump served up a buffet of hate-mongering comments about Muslims this campaign ranging from his infamous line that “Islam hates us” to claiming that “thousands” of Muslims cheered in New Jersey on 9/11—an assertion so fact free that even Trump’s defender in chief Rudy Giuliani denied it was true.
Trump even lied to Americans with his claim that Muslim Americans “saw bombs all over the apartment” of the San Bernardino terrorists but didn’t report them. Well, that, like so much of what Trump said this campaign, was a figment of his imagination.
What a contrast to George W. Bush and the words he delivered to a joint session of Congress only weeks after 9/11. There, Bush made it clear that, “The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends.” Rather, Bush declared, he wants the Muslims in the United States and around the world to know that, “We respect your faith…Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah.”
And now Trump has announced an administration that’s truly as bad as if not worse than he is. Trump is disturbingly moving the vile anti-Muslim hate I had seen in the past on anti-Muslim websites to the White House.
There’s Trump’s National Security Adviser, former Lt. General Michael Flynn, who denies Islam is even a religion. Instead as he stated in a speech to one of the nation’s most notorious anti-Muslim groups, “Act for America,” which is the equivalent of the Klan to Muslims: “Islam is a political ideology…it definitely hides behind this notion of it being a religion.”
Flynn stunningly even called Islam a “cancer.” Think about that for a second. Trump’s top national security adviser views one of the three Abrahamic faiths practiced by millions of Americans including teachers, judges, members of Congress, police officers and thousands of members of the U.S. military, as a deadly disease.
Then there’s Trump’s nomination of Ben Carson to serve as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As you may recall, Carson during the GOP primaries declared that Muslim Americans should be disqualified from serving as President because in his view Islam is not consistent with the U.S. Constitution. (The glaring irony is that Carson’s own statement was inconsistent with the Constitution in that it forbids a religious test to hold office.) In Carson’s view, the only way a Muslim American should be permitted to serve as President is if the person first agrees to “reject the tenets of Islam.”
Carson’s view of Muslims is even more distressing now with him as possible head of HUD. You see, one of the responsibilities of HUD is fighting housing discrimination, ensuring there are not violations of the Fair Housing Act. You have to wonder if Carson would be okay with Muslim Americans being discriminated against when they apply for housing considering that he had no problems discriminating against Muslims seeking the presidency. And will Carson demand that Muslims renounce their faith before being eligible for federal housing? (I certainly hope at Carson’s Senate confirmation hearings he’s asked questions on this issue.)
And let’s not forget Brietbart.com former head Steve Bannon, whom Trump tapped to be his chief strategist. Many media outlets rightly slammed Bannon for turning Breitbart.com into a platform for anti-Semitic and white supremacist views to flourish. But what most in the media ignored was that Bannon—both with Breitbart.com and on the SiriusXM radio show he hosted—gave the most vile anti-Muslim bigots in the country a platform to spew hate versus Muslims.
Bannon even welcomed Dutch member of Parliament Geerts Wilder, one of the world’s leading anti-Muslim activists, to write numerous articles that demonized Muslims including one that shockingly stated, “Islam is an existential threat to our Western freedoms and our Judeo-Christian civilization.” (This certainly conjures up the anti-Semitic propaganda seen in Germany in the 1930’s.)
This type of anti-Muslim sentiment coming from the Trump administration should be a concern to all Americans. First, it’s patently repugnant to American values.
Secondly, as counterterrorism expert Malcolm Nance stated Tuesday on my SiriusXM radio show, ISIS and Al Qaeda love Trump’s Muslim bashing. While the terrorists are saying the West hates us, Trump is saying Islam hates the West. The battle has been joined on ISIS’s terms. Nance even predicts that ISIS and Al Qaeda will flourish under Trump given that the terrorists can simply use Trump and his officials’ actual words to recruit Muslims in America by saying, “Look, your own government hates you, so why not join us?”
There’s obviously a great deal of concern amongst Muslim Americans (as well as other minority groups) about the coming Trump administration. In fact nearly 300 Muslim American leaders (including myself) signed an open letter to Trump released on Tuesday that states that, “We love our country and are committed to preserving religious freedom, equal opportunity and equal protection under the law for all.” But we note that some of Trump’s appointees don’t appear to share those same values. (The letter is actually kinder than I would’ve been because I don’t think Trump embraces American values.)
Will this letter move Trump? Of course not. But the point is that we will not be silent nor will we go quietly into the night. Rather as I’m seeing firsthand we are building allies with various communities and together will stand shoulder to shoulder to make it clear that we are prepared to resist any efforts by Trump to turn his hate into policy.