Trump’s reck­less Is­lam­o­pho­bia helps ISIS

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION - David Ig­natius

EVEN by Don­ald Trump’s stan dards, his com­ments about the Or­lando shoot­ing have been reck­less and self-serv­ing. They are also dan­ger­ous for the coun­try. Trump’s re­sponse to Sun­day’s morn­ing’s ter­ror­ist at­tack by Omar Ma­teen was ini­tially an op­por­tunis­tic tweet; then a boast­ing state­ment on his web­site, “I said this was go­ing to hap­pen”; fol­lowed by a re­newed call to tem­po­rar­ily ban Mus­lim im­mi­gra­tion, capped by a sin­is­ter in­sin­u­a­tion Monday morn­ing that Pres­i­dent Obama should re­sign af­ter the shoot­ing be­cause “there’s some­thing go­ing on.”

The pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can nom­i­nee tried to re­cover from th­ese wild, off-the-cuff com­ments with a scripted speech Monday af­ter­noon warn­ing, with­out ev­i­dence, that his pre­sump­tive Demo­cratic ri­val Hillary Clinton “wants rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ists to pour into our coun­try.” Trump pro­fessed sup­port for law-abid­ing Mus­lim Amer­i­cans but said that if they didn’t re­port on “bad” peo­ple within their midst, “th­ese peo­ple have to have con­se­quences, big con­se­quences.”

Trump’s po­lar­is­ing rhetoric on this is­sue may be the best thing the ISIS has go­ing for it, ac­cord­ing to some lead­ing US and for­eign coun­tert­er­ror­ism ex­perts. The group’s self­de­clared caliphate in Syria and Iraq is im­plod­ing. Its Syr­ian cap­i­tal of Raqqah is sur­rounded and be­sieged; the gap in the Turk­ish-Syr­ian bor­der that al­lowed free flow of for­eign fight­ers is fi­nally be­ing closed; Sunni tribal sheiks who un­til re­cently had co­op­er­ated with the ISIS are switch­ing sides. The group’s nar­ra­tive is col­laps­ing — with one ex­cep­tion.

The strong­est re­main­ing force that pro­pels the ISIS is the Is­lam­o­pho­bia of Trump and his Euro­pean coun­ter­parts, ar­gue se­nior in­tel­li­gence strate­gists for the US-led coali­tion. In­flam­ma­tory, xeno­pho­bic state­ments about Mus­lims re­in­force the ji­hadists’ claims that they are Mus­lim knights fight­ing against an in­tol­er­ant West. Trump un­wit­tingly gives them pre­cisely the role they dream about.

Trump doesn’t seem to un­der­stand that the real danger for the West is not the iso­lated acts of ter­ror by dis­af­fected youths, such as Ma­teen’s massacre in Or­lando. That’s a threat to Amer­i­cans, but one that can at least be mit­i­gated some with bet­ter se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence. The big­ger night­mare hap­pens if Mus­lims, as a whole, con­clude that their com­mu­nity is un­der threat and re­spond as a group.

Trump seems to think that we’ve al­ready reached that tip­ping point — that the Mus­lim com­mu­nity has mo­bilised against the United States. He rightly said Monday that Mus­lims need to work with law en­force­ment to re­port dan­ger­ous peo­ple. But he doesn’t seem to un­der­stand that his many months of Mus­lim-bash­ing com­ments have made that co­op­er­a­tion harder. He has been toss­ing matches into a pool of gaso­line. Good law en­force­ment and, yes, co­op­er­a­tion from Mus­lims have helped pre­vent more at­tacks like those in San Bernardino, Calif., and Or­lando.

It’s breath­tak­ing that a se­ri­ous pres­i­den­tial can­di­date would call on a sit­ting pres­i­dent to re­sign fol­low­ing a ter­ror­ist at­tack, be­cause “he doesn’t get it or he gets it bet­ter than any­body un­der­stands.” What’s that sup­posed to mean, if not a slur against Obama’s loy­alty? Trump dis­plays a level of ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity that should worry Amer­i­cans, not just be­cause his state­ments are im­moral and un­con­sti­tu­tional, but be­cause they put the coun­try at greater risk. — Cour­tesy: The Wash­ing­ton Post

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