Members of the media may finally be falling out of love with Donald Trump. For months, they have been conduits for every outrageous hateful thing he has said, providing him millions of dollars worth of airtime for free because he has been good for their ratings. With his call to ban Muslims from entering the United States, he has finally prompted the anchor guys and dolls, pundits and prattlers, to loosen their embrace of him, to note how creating a religious test for people entering the country is distinctly un-American and even unconstitutional. Well, good for them, but they’re making the wrong case against the Donald.
Saying Trump is trampling core American values has just buoyed his supporters and increased his standing in national polls (more than a third of GOP voters). Far better to drive the message that their hero , who prides himself on his stellar IQ and business acumen, is really stupid. Naively, he has come to the international board game with his shiny gold plated checkers, unaware that the world is playing chess.
Because he’d rather build support over the short term by playing to people’s fears, Trump is actually playing right into the bloody hands of foes like ISIS/Daesh. The blustery Donald is being suckered into playing the “War of Civilizations” final show-down that the Caliphate jihadists covet to promote their cause and win recruits. And, as military advisors and intelligence experts warn, proposing to bar Muslims from entering the country alienates the very people – moderate Muslims – whose support the U.S. and its allies need to wage sustained and effective war against radical Islamists.
It is the moderates and reformers we and the world need to distinguish mainstream Islam as a peaceful religion from the Wahabi fundamentalist branch and further perversions of Islam represented by extremists waging jihad in the Middle East and beyond. [Remember the largest Muslim country in the world is non-Arab, religiously pluralistic, Indonesia.]
Trump’s proposals only reinforce ISIS’ and Al Qaeda’s assertion that it is the United States and the rest of the West who are waging a religious war against followers of the prophet Mohammad. By their twisted rhetoric, there is an existential threat to Islam and they must strike Western cultures and non-Islamic religions in lethal ways, both in the Middle East and, through proxies, elsewhere in the world. So Trump in effect is putting the America he claims to embrace and wants to protect at substantially greater risk. Too bad his knee-jerk supporters don’t realize that, and too bad their favorite news sources won’t tell them.
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