Trump Is Giving a Speech About Islam. What Could Go Wrong?

Source: Politico

Plenty. According to the president’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, “The speech is intended to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilization and to demonstrate America’s commitment to our Muslim partners.” That’s a great idea in theory—most counterterrorism professionals advise building a common front with Muslim countries against jihadists. But for a president who campaigned on the dangers of Islam and proposed a ban on Muslim immigrants, the talk is fraught with political peril: Repeat campaign talking points, and he will infuriate the Muslim heads of state and the citizens they represent. Praise Islam effusively, and he will frustrate the people who elected him.

The speech is being drafted by White House aide Stephen Miller, who helped craft the clumsy language of the first travel ban and views the fight against jihadism as a religious war. But Miller will have to subordinate his own views to those of his mercurial boss, who could deliver a sloppy wet kiss of a talk as easily as a rhetorical slap in the face. For Miller and anyone else taking on the impossible job of crafting this talk, here are some do’s and don’ts to help the president deliver a forgettable talk, which has the best chance of reinforcing America’s partnership with Muslim nations against their common jihadist foes:

DO’S

Do pray that this talk doesn’t happen. The president is not known for nuance, which is what a speech like this requires to escape the potential wrath of his multiple audiences. As someone who occasionally commits the academic’s sin of too much nuance, I wouldn’t volunteer for this mission at a community college in Peoria, much less in Riyadh. But the president doesn’t need to deliver this speech to win over other Muslim leaders. If they are present at the conference in Saudi Arabia, they have already determined that the domestic political price they might pay by cozying up to Trump is offset by the geopolitical benefits of playing nice with the most powerful nation on Earth.

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Suggested Reading

The Muslim Times has the best collection of articles about the holy prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him and the Quran.

Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran

 

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