Give a man a reputation as an early riser, as the old saw goes, and he can sleep until noon everyday. The same phenomenon evidently applies to bad reputations as well. Brand Donald Trump a bigot, and suddenly every policy he endorses, no matter how innocuous or mainstream, becomes repugnant.
Consider the current furor over the GOP frontrunner’s remarks on Monday concerning radical mosques. In a television interview, Trump was asked whether he would consider shuttering certain mosques that appear to promote terrorism. Here is Trump’s response:
“Well, I would hate it do it but it’s something that you’re going to have to strongly consider because some of the ideas and some the hatred, the absolute hatred, is coming from these areas. You know, New York City as an example. We had a group of people from what I understand that really knew what they were doing, that were really studying the situation and they’re not doing that anymore under the new mayor. And I think that’s a mistake. It’s something that many people — not just me — are considering and many people are going to do.”
Make of Trump’s suggestion what you will (and there are serious constitutional reasons to doubt that such a policy is workable in the United States), but it puts him firmly in the mainstream of political opinion, particularly in social democratic Europe, which has been grappling with the problem of radical mosques for quite some time.
Germany has established precedent, by shutting down the mosque where some of the 9/11 hijackers worshiped. Now, other European countries are considering following in Berlin’s footsteps. Great Britain’s home secretary Theresa May has proposed issuing “closure orders” that would shut down pro-jihadi mosques. Belgium’s prime minister has also vowed to shut “certain radical mosques.” And in the wake of the Paris atrocities, France’s interior minister has argued in favor of closing “mosques where hate is preached.”
Stateside, when Mr. Trump merely suggested considering following in the footsteps of tolerant, democratic Germany, he was flayed for it. In a characteristic example, a blogger at the Washington Post bemoaned Trump’s appeal to the “massive political power of fear.” (Naturally, the remarkably parochial article mentioned none of the European examples.) Other publications filed similarly context-free denunciations of Mr. Trump.
Others simply lied about what the real estate mogul had said. Slate magazine premised an entire column on a blatant mischaracterization of what Trump suggested. Jamelle Bouie omitted all of the qualifications in Trump’s statement, and instead asserted that Trump wants to “shut down mosques.” That’s tantamount to saying the health department wants to “shut down restaurants” if it shutters a place that has an E. coli outbreak. The Daily Beast was similarly dishonest.
None of this is to endorse Trump's suggestion, by the way. But the media may wish to keep in mind that he's merely proposing a policy that's been endorsed by such famous right-wing extremists as France's socialist interior minister.
With the war in Syria becoming ever more complex and murderous, it’s worthwhile to revisit a guiding principle of Barack Obama: The use of American military power is likely to do more harm than good in the Middle East, and even in the region’s violent struggles, soft power is important, if not decisive, in resolving conflicts. If Islamic militancy is to be defeated, better ideas, advanced by Muslims, backed up if necessary by Muslim soldiers, must be the principal means.
Because presidential politics are as much about in-group signaling as actual policy, Ben Carson is locked in a media-generated controversy about whether or not he’d be down with having a Muslim president. Carson was asked about this deeply-important question on Meet the Press. He said no.
Jombang, Indonesia The 50-mile route from Sura-baya airport to this East Java city was lined with tens of thousands of banners wishing peace and success to Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest Muslim organization, as participants gathered in August for its latest five-year congress.
One of the more puzzling manifestations of the conflict between radical Islam and the West is the presence of Islamist communities in places like Great Britain, the Netherlands, and France: They are unwelcome in their Muslim homelands—indeed, they are in exile from them—and yet they harbor an abiding hatred for the societies that offer them refuge.
Department of Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson says that the Islamic State wants to be viewed as Islamic, but they aren't.
During an interview at the Aspen Security Forum, the interviewer asks if Johnson and DHS are missing the religious dimension of the terrorism we face by denying that it's inspired by Islam. "I couldn't disagree more," Johnson says.
“Islamophobia,” which carries with it implications of viciousness, pain, and disease, is not considered a neutral term, either by Muslims who accuse others of it (including some moderate believers in Islam), or by those who supposedly spread it.
A prominent Pakistani-born women's rights activist is asking presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton, to pledge not to accept donations from foreign nations that oppress women. Raheel Raza, the Canadian journalist behind the documentary film Honor Diaries, is requesting all the presidential candidates, from both parties and both "men and women," to sign her pledge.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the controversial Muslim-turned-atheist, told a National Press Club audience last week some hard facts about Islam and its propensity toward violence. But her remarks about Christianity—about its capacity to soften sectarian hatreds—may prove an even tougher pill to swallow.
Secretary of State John Kerry has often spoken to the Muslim world during his tenure, particularly during the past year as negotiations with Iran have intensified and conflict with the Islamic State has escalated. But what Kerry has not said during the past twelve months is also significant. A review of the secretary's official remarks and statements noting special dates on Islamic, Perisan, and Arab calendars shows a sharp contrast to his relative silence on Christian and Jewish occasions.
President Obama has repeatedly denied that terrorists have anything to do with the real Islam. But what would Obama say about the fatwa that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s leading political and religious authority from 1979 to 1989, issued condemning author Salman Rushdie to death for writing a book deemed blasphemous to Islam?
Is Barack Hussein Obama wrong to avoid appending “Islamic,” “Muslim,” “Islamist,” or even “jihadist” to the terrorism that has struck the West with increasing ferocity since the 1990s? This question has at least two parts: Is the president historically correct to do this? And is he politically smart to do it?
Muslim political and religious leaders in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is partitioned between a “Republic of Serbs” and a “Muslim-Croat Federation,” have taken firm measures to stop agitation and recruitment for ISIS.
In remarks at the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, President Obama warned that one can't profile a terrorist, or predict who will become one. It's not determined by people or any particular faith, the president said.