Trump’s dangerous delusions about Islam

Guardian: In the aftermath of the attacks of 11 September 2001, amid the grief and rage that followed the toppling of the World Trade Center, President George W Bush did not declare war on Islam. “These acts of violence against innocents,” he told Americans in the week after 3,000 people were killed by Muslim terrorists, “violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.” The war that Bush went on to declare soon thereafter was not against a religion, but against “terror” – and within that baggy term, he focused on al-Qaida, “a fringe movement”, in Bush’s words, “that perverts the peaceful teaching of Islam”.

This measured rhetoric toward the Islamic faith did nothing to mitigate the chaos of the foreign adventures launched by Bush and his partner in regime change, Tony Blair. And while their successors in Washington and London, along with other western leaders, distanced themselves from the invasions after their spectacular failure to democratise the region, they kept up the practice of speaking respectfully about Islam, to maintain social harmony at home and tolerable relations with the Muslim world. For Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and other western leaders, the disastrous aftermath of the Iraq war and the ensuing carnage in Syria were not an indictment of the Islamic faith; they continued to espouse the view that Islam was not the problem but the target, a generally humane creed in need of protection from those who would distort it.

Sixteen years after September 11, the war on Islam that Bush declined to launch has been effectively taken up by the new inhabitant of the White House. “Anyone who cannot name our enemy,” Donald Trump stated during the campaign, referring to Obama and Hillary Clinton alike, “is not fit to lead this country.” He immediately did so: “radical Islam.”

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