It took Donald Trump to show how doubters, cowards, and appeasers control the dialogue of our war on terror. Even conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron took a turn throwing a few potshots at Trump’s supposedly anti-Muslim comments.
We can cut Cameron a little slack. His Islamic problem is a lot bigger than ours and the UK is much closer to the action.
Anti-Muslim comments or smart thinking?
Some of the loudest voices denouncing Trump are politicians who should understand that the suggestion we restrict Muslim travelers was a smart, attention-getting ploy. It succeeded, but instead of yanking us out of our complacency the denial got worse.
Anyone who prefers realism to fantasy knows that the U.S. is not going to ban Muslim travel any more than we are going to build a wall at Mexico’s expense or hold mass cattle car deportations. A president doesn’t have the power to do these things and Congress doesn’t have the courage even if it wanted to.
Whether intentional or not, what is so clever about Trump’s alleged anti-Muslim plans is how they reveal the cowardice of politicians when they are forced to choose between security and appeasement. Even Republicans haven’t shown the intestinal fortitude to loudly denounce our tolerance for Islamic outrages that have altered our lives and turned air travel into a TSA-moderated nightmare.
Is this about derailing Trump’s quest for the presidency or fear of causing offense?
Yes, it really is Islam’s fault
Too few public voices are willing to admit that Islam, not the TSA is responsible for the missed flights and endless lines at our airports, the untold sums spent on national and homeland security, and the wanton killing we are trying to prevent. Instead, we skirt around the big, smelly elephant leering in the corner and try to blame extremism on anything but the religion it comes from.
No, that doesn’t mean all Muslims are terrorists.
Yes, it means that most terrorists are Muslims.
No, it doesn’t mean we should restrict travel to the U.S.
Yes, it means we should take another look at who gets screened and why.
The sad part of all this isn’t that our front running GOP candidate favors religious discrimination. It’s that liberalism has made us eager to attack anyone who touches on the truth even when it should be obvious that what we are hearing is just another attention-getter.
Anti-Muslim or not, divisiveness can be a good thing
We worry a lot about rhetoric spawning divisiveness. Apparently the British PM does, too.
Being divisive is not inherently bad. Sometimes it makes people think. Sometimes it backfires. Like these remarks from Florida Congresswoman Lois Frankel, the voices charging “anti-Muslim” prefer falling back on knee-jerk recitations to deal with Trump’s style of rhetoric:
His [Trump’s] remarks reinforce the narrative that pits the United States against Muslims and fuels terrorist recruitment efforts. Trump’s message promotes scapegoating and stereotyping that alienates our friends and bolsters our adversaries. History has taught us the dangers of singling out the ‘other’ for unequal treatment.1
ISIS doesn’t seem to have a lot of problems recruiting with or without our help, but history has warnings aplenty for those who appease at the expense of security. Cameron should remember that one of these lessons came from his country.
We are trying too hard to shield Islam from insult while people are being blown up, tortured, beheaded, raped, and kidnapped by extremists. Nearly 3,000 people were killed on our own soil on 9/11, a crime that still hasn’t been answered. Despite the common thread running through all of these atrocities we are still afraid to admit that if there is going to be a terror attack, it is almost certainly going to come from a Muslim.
The next time a nuclear weapon is used that moment in history will likely come from a Muslim, too. If we can buy into Obama’s words about his Iran deal even our president sees this as a threat.
The problem is that Trump is a lot closer to the truth than public figures have the courage to admit. A little courage might go a long way to putting the brakes on extremism instead of reassuring terrorists that we will make sure not to profile or restrict their movements if we can help it.
Should we ban Muslim travel to the U.S.? Absolutely not and besides, campaign trail theater is not policy. It does not have the force of law or in this case even a nod to reality.
What Trump did was smart, not stupid. We know we can’t and won’t enact a travel ban any more than we will deport every last illegal. The question his comments should raise is what we can do short of these things, because what we are doing now isn’t working very well. Just ask the travelers who slept at O’Hare on Sunday night because they didn’t make it through the screening line in time.
Updated May 17, 2016: text revisions for clarity.
1. Frankel, Lois. “Frankel Denounces Trump’s Anti-Muslim Rhetoric.” frankel.house.gov. December 9, 2015. http://frankel.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=435, retrieved May 16, 2015.