Co-authored by Jacob Seckinger
Donald Trump speaks like a terrorist. While he doesn't advocate genocide in the name of God, he does exploit the worst fears of our one nation under God. ISIS and Trump exploit similar fears to protect and extend their kingdoms. Just as the leadership of ISIS capitalizes on fears of Western domination and values, Trump capitalizes on fears of Islamic domination and values. And while Trump shepherds his tremulous supporters to the voting box rather than to martyrdom, Western imperialism can be no less deadly.
ISIS justifies its viciousness by appeals to self-defense and to the inhumanity of its enemies. ISIS feels duty-bound to repulse Western "crusaders" who invade and sully their holy land. In ISIS's press release after the Paris attacks, they bragged of "casting terror into the hearts of the crusaders in their very own homeland." Western "infidels" and "perverters of Islam," they go on, have forfeited their claim to life. Some of the Paris victims had been "gathering for prostitution and vice." In short, they were asking for it. Crusaders, infidels and perverts are not, so they claim, worthy of life.
Crusaders and perverts, aside, how can ISIS justify the killings of Muslims (which other extremists reject)? After all, in Qur'an 4:93, we read: "And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is Hell; he shall abide in it, and Allah will send His wrath on him and curse him and prepare for him a painful chastisement."
ISIS is not deterred. They claim they are not killing fellow Muslims, they are killing kufirs (apostates who are spitting in the face of a gracious God). For example, ISIS burned Jordanian pilot Muath Al-Kasasbeh to death in January of 2015. Kasasbeh was deemed an apostate because of the bombing campaigns he participated in against ISIS, thus relinquishing any claim to life.
Trump's rhetoric likewise appeals to self-defense and denials of the humanity of its enemies. He began his campaign by telling us Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals. When called upon to defend his outrageous claim, he added that Mexicans are also killers. Muslims are so dangerous that we must track them in a database. After all, "Islam hates us."
What does one do with dangerous terrorists, rapists, haters and killers?
One longs for "good old days" when protesters would be "carried out on a stretcher."
Trump's vicious and racist rhetoric stokes the fears of white nationalists who feel marginalized. David Duke, former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, said that "a vote against Donald Trump is treason to your [white] heritage."
In March, white supremacy and fear of Islam collided. Khondoker Usama, an Islamic student at Wichita State University and his Hispanic friend were attacked by a white man who called them "brown trash" and yelled "Trump! Trump! Trump!"
In January, a Muslim woman donning a hijab stood in silent protest at a Trump rally. She was swiftly removed to vicious chants. One man said that she had a bomb. Trump, for his part, blamed them Muslims: "There is hatred against us that is unbelievable," he said. "It's their hatred, not our hatred."
In our hometown, Grand Rapids, Michigan, a man was caught on camera yelling, "kill the Muslims," to a group of Muslims. He walked away, chanting, "Trump, Trump, Trump!" A few weeks earlier, a Sikh shop owner, confused for a Muslim was shot in the face.
In 2015, there were 63 recorded attacks on Muslim places of worship. A man firebombed the Coachella Mosque in California while innocent Muslims were peacefully at prayer inside. The massive fireball thankfully did not lead to any reported injuries, although the building was significantly damaged.
An increase in American Islamophobia can even be seen at the youth levels. A sixth grade Muslim girl donning a hijab was violently attacked by three male classmates while on recess. One boy put her in a headlock and punched her as they began forcibly trying to remove her headdress. The innocent girl was also given a nickname: "ISIS."
And why not? Trump himself would shut down Mosques, kick all Syrian refugees out of the country and kill the family members of ISIS terrorists. "I would be very, very firm with families," he added. And, of course, torture; "Waterboarding and much worse."
Because of his fears he proposes a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." Yet a US citizen is 1,000 times more likely to be killed by a US citizen wielding a handgun than by a Muslim terrorist. And, in the United States a US citizen is more likely to be killed by a white supremacist than a Muslim terrorist. Since 9/11, 48 Americans have been killed by white supremacists or antigovernment extremists. Only 26 American lives have been taken by jihadists.
Hateful, demeaning rhetoric incites and inspires violence against entire groups of people, most of whom are innocent. Trump's hate speech has already fanned fears into violence. Adding the powers of the Presidency to such irrational fears is a recipe for global disaster. Actions inspired by irrational fears, fears that encouraged a sense of US superiority all the while diminishing the moral status of Muslims and Arabs, have already wreaked havoc in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya (creating a power vacuum filled by ISIS). Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died as a result. Millions have been displaced.
We cannot allow Trump to make it worse.