Donald Trump has waded his way back to the question of Muslims by telling CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview yesterday, “I think Islam hates us.”
Trump elaborated, “But there is a tremendous hatred, and we have to be very vigilant, we have to be very careful, and we can’t allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States, and of people that are not Muslim.”
There is no doubt that a critical mass of Muslims hate America and the West at large. If one reads Osama bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa, he decrees it is the duty of every Muslim “to kill the Americans and their allies” be they military or civilian. Later that year, the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were attacked. Three years came the 9/11 attacks.
In September 2014, ISIS issued a similar message. “The best thing you can do is to strive to your best and kill any disbeliever, whether he be French, American or from any of their allies.” Like al Qaeda, ISIS did not discern between military personnel and civilians. “Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military, for they have the same ruling. Both of them are disbelievers. Both of them are considered to be waging war.”
By the end of 2015, ISIS had attacked both Paris and San Bernardino.
It is an act of willful blindness to not recognize that a critical mass of Muslims hate Americans and hate us enough to want to kill us.
But Trump being Trump paints all of Islam with a broad brush. Not all Muslims have accepted bin Laden’s fatwa nor have been recruited by ISIS.
Trump cannot distinguish between Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala and the Taliban who shot her. Nor can he distinguish between the Muslim who murdered Jews at the Hyper Cacher grocery store in Paris and the Muslim Hyper Cacher grocery store employee who saved Jewish lives.
Because of President Obama’s “see no evil, hear no evil” approach to Islamic terrorism (i.e. “ISIS isn’t Islamic”) as well as the likelihood this approach would continue with Hillary Clinton there is the temptation to embrace the rhetoric of someone like Trump who says “Islam hates us.” Both approaches are equally wrong.
The answer lies somewhere in between. It won’t be easy, but we must find a way to put religious foundation and the ideological motivation between Islamic terrorism in the public square without villifying the majority of Muslims who do not subscribe to this way of thinking. We will not find this way if we see fit to elect Hillary or Trump. Given that these are our likely two options things are bound to get worse before they get better.
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