Donald Trump’s Stint with Islamophobia

August 11, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

 

 

By

Sabena Siddiqi

Donald Trump is quite a well-known personality around the world, even before his election campaign most people would have identified him as the host of the NBC show ‘The Apprentice’. Last year he resigned from his contract at NBC to start an election campaign. Having no great achievement to his name except managing big business, he chose to use the wildest rhetoric imaginable to catch people’s attention.

Trump has been in showbiz long enough to know how to grab the limelight and do his own bit of perception management. He chose to highlight white supremacism, right from the era of the Ku Klux Klan.

Islamophobia sells and grabs people’s attention, it appeals to a certain rigid and narrow-minded mindset to misjudge and blame a religion on the basis of crimes committed by a few people.

Though in logical terms, all religions could be blamed for terrorism and crime if that is the criteria.

 

Trump started blatantly using hate-speech, racism and bias to win over support and make headlines. It appealed to conservative people with misconceptions about their own superiority vis a vis other races and religions.

This stance is particularly amazing in a country like America that is more of a global village, most Americans today being immigrants themselves, the only indigenous people are the Native Americans.

Trump himself is of German and Scottish descent, his mother and all four grandparents born outside the U.S.

Notwithstanding this fact, Trump has been asking for a clampdown on entry of immigrants in the country.

Trump’s remarks about immigrants have an uncanny resemblance to Hitler’s remarks about Jews, white supremacism being very similar to the Nazi narrative.

Donald Trump has successfully mainstreamed a version of explicit white supremacy that is potentially dangerous, his brand of Americanism having already sold well enough to get him named as Republican nominee for the President of the United States, this a victory in intself and it is not amusing.

Emile Nakhleh, a senior Islam expert at the time of the Bush administration, recently remarked that President Obama was sensible to avoid using the terminology “radical Islam.”

He went on to say, “To Muslims, or for anyone familiar with the many strands of Islam, the phrase connotes a direct link between the mainstream of the Muslim faith and the violent acts of a few.”

This connotation was highlighted and capitalised upon in the Trump election campaign, in Nakhleh’s opinion, “Trump appears to be recklessly pandering to the uninformed part of the American electorate that does believe in such a connection between the mainstream and the fringe.”

Donald Trump has started a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment with his wild rhetoric, brushing away all criticism saying he is just being tough on national security and preserving the true version of America.

Meanwhile, Islamophobia has increased remarkably around the world, there being a lot of anti-refugee and predominantly anti-Muslim sentiment. It is an irony that more and more refugees are seen in Western capitals as Muslim countries are sacked one by one.

A radical attitude has gradually spread across the U.S., there being a rapid increase in Islamophobic incidents, mainly against mosques in 2015.

American Muslims today feel cornered, watched and marginalized. It is nearly 15 years since 9/11 but attitudes are getting more and more retrogressive, every Muslim being perceived as a potential terrorist.

The majority of Republican respondents now back a proposal to ban an entire religious entity from setting foot in America. They may not like Trump but they like his version of Islamophobia.

The Trump catchphrase is “There’s a problem in this country and it’s Muslims.”

It is very easy to blame a certain group of people for all that ails America, it is more difficult to understand why Trump’s following is rapidly growing in one of the world’s most educated, powerful and influential countries.

 

Recently, Khizr Khan single-handedly wreaked considerable damage to Trump’s multi-million election campaign. He is father of Captain Humayun Khan who was martyred fighting a U.S. war.

Khan put forward his perspective in a forceful and convincing manner at the Democratic National Convention, pulling out a copy of the U.S. constitution and saying that he wondered whether Trump had ever read it, or even visited the Arlington cemetery.

Khizr Khan identified his family as patriotic Muslim Americans, saying his son had sacrificed his life for the country that Trump proposes to keep Muslims out of. He criticized Trump saying that he was just a tycoon and had “sacrificed nothing,” Trump’s rebuttal being that Khan’s wife seemed muzzled by Sharia law and that he had sacrificed, working “very hard,” creating “thousands of jobs,” and building “great structures.”

It was not suitable for a presidential candidate to react so defensively and target a Pakistani Muslim mother who lost her son in an American war.

Donald Trump probably does not know that a Pakistani woman, Benazir Bhutto, had already become a Prime Minister in 1988, while for American women, even Hillary Clinton accepting a party nomination for being Presidential candidate is an unparalleled achievement.

This entire episode just exposed Trump’s sheer lack of knowledge in world affairs.

 

A lot of people think that the Americans cannot surely elect such a President. One has to consider the odds of him getting elected, practically and without bias.

Mr. Trump has already stated, “If I do not win with a landslide victory, it would mean that the elections are rigged.” This could mean that he may not be willing to concede if he loses. He is making American democracy questionable with these remarks. There are many people who don’t like him but still believe him when he says the Democrats are trying to rig the elections.

Some analysts however predict a win for Trump, and that he will also have two terms as President. It is said that he might be more pleasant and amenable once he is elected and all the election bluster is behind him.

Trump has some unique advantages, his Islamophobia and racist rhetoric targets white working class voters that have felt ignored and beaten down for decades. It is an undeniable reality and Clinton has nothing substantial to offer them.

The American blue collar, working class voters have not been voting for several elections now and nobody had much to offer them.

Another big reason for Trump being a strong contender is that Hillary is blamed for her flawed policies in the past that led to wars and a humongous loss of life, while he is untried and crude with no such past.

Latest election predictions are that Hilary has a 76% chance of winning the presidency while Trump has only 24%, still most of these only take into account the results of previous elections. Any upset is not accounted for, and an imperceptible shift can happen any time, both candidates having been polling at higher negatives than any previous two presidential frontrunners.

Politics is unpredictable, anything can happen anywhere for any reason so there is no confirmed winner, but Trump’s anti-Muslim statements are the main theme of his election campaign.

They reach and influence a massive, working class electorate, his anti-Muslim diatribe being sheer ignorance that feeds on disdain for everything non-white and non-Christian in this world.

This attitude makes him a radical just like the notorious ISIS, he is just the other extreme and has a lot more in common with them than he would admit.

 

 

 

 

sabena sidiqi

Sabena Siddiqi

Lawyer by education, writer and observer at large.
I write on Pakistan-centric and geopolitical matters to highlight Pakistan and its real potential vis a vis this region. This is my contribution for my country.

@Sabena_Siddiqi  on Twitter.

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