Monday, December 07, 2015

Donald Trump Hands a Victory to ISIS

There is probably nothing that ISIS wants more than to be able to depict its actions as defending Islam (certainly its virulent version of Islam) against a war brought by the United States and other "Christian" nations.  Even Republicans - such as even the usually cretinous George W. Bush - have taken pains to separate Al Qaeda and now, ISIS from all of Islam.  Yet today, Donald Trump more or less declared war n all Muslims and  called for the "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."  Not surprisingly, Trump cited "research" from a certified hate group as backing his statements. Trump's declaration no doubt is playing well with the ugliest, knuckle dragging elements of the GOP base.  But it is probably being welcomed with even more excitement in ISIS leadership circles.  The question now becomes whether or not the mainline GOP (to the extent it still exists) will at last grow the spine to loudly and repeatedly condemn Trump and his followers.  A piece in Politico looks at Trump's poorly thought through declaration.  Here are highlights:

Donald Trump on Monday said there should be a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," a surprising escalation of rhetoric—even for him.

The brash GOP front-runner, increasingly desperate to hold on to his position atop the field, emailed out the statement just hours after a new poll showed Ted Cruz overtaking him for the first time in Iowa, where the first-in-the-nation caucuses are less than two months away (a second poll of likely Iowa GOP caucus-goers released Monday afternoon showed Trump maintaining his lead in Iowa).

Doubling down on the signature demagoguery that has enraged liberals and many moderate Republicans but endeared him to the conservative base, Trump said that the U.S. should stop all Muslims from entering the country in response to the ISIL-coordinated attacks in Paris and last week’s ISIL-inspired shooting in San Bernardino carried out by a Muslim husband and wife who became radicalized.

Trump’s statement, without citing a study, said that Pew Research had found that “there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population.” Trump’s aides promoted the statement on Twitter. 

Even though Trump aide Daniel Scavino had tweeted the statement, Trump’s campaign fielded a number of calls from reporters wanting to confirm that the statement was real—a sign of the outlandish nature of this latest proposal, even from a candidate who has been uniquely audacious in stretching the boundaries of political decorum and the standard Republican orthodoxies on policy.
But the statement, Trump’s campaign confirmed, was true. A spokeswoman, when asked what inspired the comments, said Trump commented, “death.”

To clear up any doubts, Trump himself tweeted moments later: “Just put out a very important policy statement regarding the influx of hatred and danger coming into out country. We must be vigilant.”

Once again, Trump’s extreme positioning on an issue forced his GOP rivals to weigh in, further fanning attention Trump’s way.

Jeb Bush quickly spoke out on Twitter, saying, “Donald Trump is unhinged. His ‘policy’ proposals are not serious.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called Trump’s statement “a ridiculous view” and chalked it up to his lack of political experience.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who unlike Cruz and Rubio isn’t making a serious play for Trump voters, slammed the rhetoric as “just more of the outrageous divisiveness that characterizes his every breath and another reason why he is entirely unsuited to lead the United States.”

The statement also drew fire from South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who tweeted, “@realDonaldTrump has gone from making absurd comments to being downright dangerous with his bombastic rhetoric.”

Trump's proposal, which would seemingly violate the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom, also comes on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, an attack that ultimately led to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War Two.

Incredulous as so many were upon hearing Trump's proposal, a longtime political operative who knows Trump well saw a cunning political ploy aimed at solidifying the billionaire's standing with the GOP base.

"He knows that by driving a wedge like this, he'll win the Republican primary," the operative said. "This is a base that is almost completely opposed to resettling any Syrian refugees in the U.S. He's locking down that real estate, forcing his rivals to scramble to figure out their own positioning and he's setting the agenda once again.  "He knows the xenophobia thing works with the Republican base. It just does."

Trump’s statement also quoted a study by the Center for Security Policy that claimed, "'25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as part of the global Jihad.'" The CSP is designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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