Redefining Terrorism: Donald Trump and the Politics of Fear

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, one of the definitions of “terrorism” is “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion” (Merriam-Webster online).

“Terror” is defined as “a very strong feeling of fear” (Ibid).

According to the F.B.I., domestic terrorism has the following components:

  • Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
  • Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
  • Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S. (“Definitions of Terrorism in the U.S. Code”, F.B.I. website, ref. 18 U.S.C. 2331).

Keep that in mind as you read today’s post.

This post is about Donald Trump, a candidate running for the Republican Party nomination for president.

For the future readers (refer to my “About” page if you don’t know what I mean by this), Donald Trump is a very rich man who is running for president of the United States in 2016.  His grandfather made his money by owning restaurants/brothels in the late 1890s during  the Klondike Gold Rush (“Donald’s Trump Grandfather Got Rich in the Yukon with Hotels Known for ‘Female Companionship’ “, Dermot Cole, Alaska Dispatch News website, 9/12/15).

Donald Trump increased the fortune he was born with by investing in property, primarily.  I am not going to cite his biography or CV or anything, because it’s just not worth my time.  There are plenty of sources if readers want to research Trump’s background.

He has made a lot of foolish statements during his lifetime, but the latest ones are worrisome because he actually wants to be president.  He seems to have a rather large grassroots base, mostly because he parrots the worst fears and extreme hatred of some segments of the American population.

He doesn’t research before he speaks, and he even cites faulty polls or, in some cases, completely misrepresents what polls have concluded, in order to advance his ideology.

It appears, at this point, that the Republican Party does not support him or his awful ideas.

So, what prompted this blog post was a speech Trump gave on December 7, 2015, to an audience aboard the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.  In it, he literally read a proposal – referring to himself in the third person (can you see my eyes rolling?) – in which he stated he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the US “until our country’s representatives can figure out what’s going on” (“Donald Trump’s Call for Banning Muslims from Entering U.S. Draws Condemnation”, David Jackson, USA Today website, 12/7/2015).

He also stated

“Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life” (Ibid).

In case you missed it, he was saying that all Muslims “believe only in jihad” and have “no respect for human life”.

He is repeating something that ultra-conservative, right-wing extremists say, that the actual religion of Islam is inherently violent, so all Muslims are inherently violent.

Other people, maybe not so political, also believe these things because:

  1.  They don’t know any Muslims personally.
  2.  They have never read any books about the history of Islam.
  3.  They have never read any books about the origins of terrorism.
  4.  They think all Muslims are Arabs who hate the U.S.
  5.  They don’t use critical thinking skills, and just believe everything that either confirms their     biases or panders to their fears of “the other”.

The San Bernardino shooters are held up as a failure of the ‘fiancee visa’ program, and of the immigration program in general.

The problem with all this is that you cannot just ban people from coming to the U.S., based on their religion.  And, until Trump started sputtering and backtracking today due to the backlash his comments received from the right, middle, and left (basically, from everyone with a brain), when he said “all Muslims”, he included American-born Muslims coming back from vacation, and Muslims in the U.S. military coming home from duty.

Trump cited Franklin D. Roosevelt’s use of internment camps for Japanese-Americans during WWII, stating that what he (Trump) was suggesting wasn’t as bad as that; the implication being that, if the public accepted the internment camps, they ought to accept Trump’s plan, too.

Or, as he also implied, if people thought Roosevelt was a great president, they ought to think Trump is, too, as his idea about banning Muslims from the U.S. isn’t as bad as putting them in internment camps.

However he tried to spin it, it sounded awful.  Because it is awful.

That’s like saying, “But Hitler cremated living people, and all I’m doing is banning them from the U.S. based on their religion – see how what I want isn’t bad?”

Which, as any first-year logic student can tell you, are false and patently ridiculous arguments.

And we all used to dismiss Trump as an idiot, a blowhard, and a narcissist whose world is divided into 2 parts – winners (him), and losers (everyone else).  In fact, he stated as much to Don Lemon on CNN last night (12/8/15) – I heard it myself.

He is an idiot, a blowhard, and a narcissist.  The problem is, he’s very rich, and so he has a lot of power…and he incites his base of supporters into doing some hateful things, by using a combination of whipping up xenophobic hysteria and flattery (telling his supporters how much smarter they are than everyone else).

For example, in August of this year, 2 men were arrested for beating a homeless man of Mexican nationality, and one of them told the police, “Donald Trump was right about deporting all these illegals” (“Police: Man Who Beat Homeless Mexican Said ‘Trump was Right’ “ Associated Press via the PBS website, 8/21/2015).

That was during a time when Trump was focusing on the “danger” from immigrants, particularly those from Mexico, claiming they were mostly criminals (“Donald Trump’s False Comments Connecting Mexican Immigrants and Crime”, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Washington Post website, 7/8/2015).

All he is doing now is switching “Mexicans” for “Muslims”, and attempting to reinforce and spread fear in order to…

…intimidate a civilian population, and/or influence the policy of a government by intimidation.

Now scroll up and read the F.B.I.’s definition of domestic terrorism again.

In case you need another example, after his latest gaffe speech, someone threw a pig’s head at a Pennsylvania mosque (“Philly Religious Leaders Condemn Donald Trump’s Anti-Islamist Rhetoric”, Sandy Smith, Philadelphia News + Opinion website, 12/8/2015).

Additionally, a N.Y. shopkeeper was beaten after a customer stated, “I want to kill Muslims” (“Jittery Muslim Americans Accuse Trump of Inciting Violence”, Jennie Matthew, Times of Israel website, 12/8/2015).

I would also like to add an observation about the public at large:  I have been watching “liberal” news on TV (Anderson Cooper, for the most disappointing example I can think of) actually buy into this “all Muslims are terrorists” by having “experts” such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali of the “AHA Foundation” state that “most Muslims” will react to Trump’s rhetoric by “becoming more devout”, to which she added that part of being a devout Muslim was being violent.

She stated that she rejects the word “radicalization” because violent Muslims are devout Muslims (and therefore common, not some kind of atypical minority of Muslims).

I was surprised because this woman runs an organization that, on the face of it, appears somewhat progressive, claiming to want to end female genital mutilation and other horrors. She speaks out against the “oppression of women under Islam”.

Of course, progressive in one area does not necessarily mean progressiveness in other areas, and this woman clearly blames the entire Islamic religion for the policies of extremists.

Horrors committed by a government that tries to justify them by claiming religious authority is one of the oldest cons around.  It does not mean we ought to indict an entire religion.

By using progressives to support blanket misconceptions about Muslims in general, CNN is making it ok for liberals to be as anti-Muslim as Trump.

I see that as a very dangerous thing and an attempt to deliberately mislead the American public.

For another example, I was surprised by watching Dr. Drew make some small noises of agreement for policies based on religion, as well.  And while I have no respect for him as a clinician, I do consider him a liberal.

One example of his lack of clinical knowledge is, when Amy Winehouse died, he stated that it was impossible to die from alcohol withdrawal!  That you can indeed die from that is a basic fact of alcoholism and there is no excuse for a “addiction specialist”, as he bills himself, to not know that.

Anyway, he didn’t come right out and say he agreed with “Muslim=terrorist”, but in a discussion with an audience last night, he basically shouted down any audience member who suggested that blanket anti-Muslim statements were ignorant and based on a lack of critical thinking.

It alarms me when liberals start agreeing with fascist types.  I know that often they are the first group to fold when the going gets tough (read that as “to save their own asses”), so my cynical self isn’t surprised, just dismayed – because I don’t want things to get to the point in this country where the sane people are in danger of being persecuted in some way.

Sane people like my friends, my family, and me.

I think it’s tragic and ironic that the “anti-terrorist” rhetoric coming from liberals and conservatives alike is causing my blood to run colder than anything that’s been said or done since the 9/11 attacks.

That’s real terror.

I have another blog post for tomorrow night, and will post “weird news” and my recommendations at that time.

 

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2 thoughts on “Redefining Terrorism: Donald Trump and the Politics of Fear

  1. SusanU

    It disturbs me greatly that The Donald has any support base–any. People with common sense and self-respect know that he would have little or nothing positive to offer by holding any political office. He is a better raunchy stand-up comedian. Not really–he’s truly lousy at that, too.

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    Reply
    1. Victoria Post author

      I completely agree. People like us are going to have to make sure he – or anyone like him – is not elected to any position of power. Thank you for your comment, Susan!

      Like

      Reply

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