Media Call Out Donald Trump's Plan To Ban Muslims From The US For Playing Into The Hands Of ISIS

››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

Media are calling out Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States for marginalizing Muslims and helping ISIS recruitment tactics. Such criticism echoes statements from the U.S. Department of Defense explaining that "anything that creates tensions and creates the notion that the United States is at odds with the Muslim faith and Islam would be counterproductive to our efforts right now" to combat ISIS.

Donald Trump Calls For "A Total And Complete Shutdown Of Muslims Entering The United States"

Trump: Muslims Should Be Banned From Coming Into The United States "Until Our Country's Representatives Can Figure Out What's Going On." On December 7, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump published a press release "calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." Trump's statement claimed that "there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population," and that "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":

Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing "25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad" and 51% of those polled, "agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah." Shariah authorizes such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won't convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women.

Mr. Trump stated, "Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. 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. If I win the election for President, we are going to Make America Great Again." [DonaldJTrump.com 12/7/15]

Department Of Defense: Rhetoric That Creates The Notion That The U.S. Is At Odds With The Muslim Faith Is Counterproductive To National Security And To Objective Of Defeating ISIS

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook: Anything To Suggest The US "Is At Odds With The Muslim Faith ... Would Be Counterproductive To Our Efforts" To Defeat ISIS. In a December 8 press briefing, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook alluded to Trump's proposal in explaining that it "would be counterproductive" to the goal of defeating ISIS to create "the notion that the United States is at odds with the Muslim faith and Islam":

There are, as I said before, there are Muslims serving patriotically in the U.S. military today, as there are people of many faiths. I'm not aware of any particular new training as a result of this. We'll check and see if there are Muslims specifically serving in those particular areas that you mentioned.

But I would just make the larger point that -- that we don't have -- the United States doesn't have any issue, and certainly the Department of Defense, anything that creates tensions and creates the notion that the United States is at odds with the Muslim faith and Islam would be counterproductive to our efforts right now, and totally contrary to our values.

[...]

We have troops serving that follow the Muslim faith. And, again, without wading into politics, anything that tries to bolster, if you will, the ISIL narrative that the United States is somehow at war with Islam is contrary to our values and contrary to our national security.

We are, as I mentioned, working with Muslim nations right now. We want to, in essence, take the fight to ISIL with the help of -- of Muslims and others around the world. And anything that -- that somehow challenges that, we think would be counterproductive to our national security. [Department of Defense, 12/8/15]

Media Call Out Trump's Rhetoric And Policy Proposals For Feeding "Into The ISIS Narrative"

New York Times' Frank Bruni: Trump "Has Given The Islamic State ... A Piece Of Propaganda As Big As Any Of His Resorts." In a December 8 op-ed, New York Times opinion columnist Frank Bruni stated that Trump's policy proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States "has practically collaborated with the enemy by playing into a narrative of Muslim persecution":

But what Trump just did took pressure off the president by redirecting the conversation from his tentativeness to Trump's insane overreach. We should tell him that, and we should add that he has practically collaborated with the enemy by playing into a narrative of Muslim persecution and a grand war between civilizations.

He has given the Islamic State and other barbarians a piece of propaganda as big as any of his resorts and as shimmering as any of his office towers. [The New York Times, 12/8/15]

NBC News' Richard Engel: Trump's Policy "Just Feeds Into The ISIS Narrative," And Presents "A National Security Issue." In a December 7 appearance on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel slammed Trump's proposal to ban foreign Muslims from the United States, saying it "feeds into the ISIS narrative," and "it is a national security issue." Engel explained that ISIS claims "the world is against Muslims and we, ISIS, are defending Muslims. So here comes Mr. Trump and says ISIS is right":

RICHARD ENGEL: This is not small ball, actually. It would be interesting to say oh this is just fun. This is just more,you know,he's trying to score a few points. But the world watches this. The world sees the leading political candidate from one party making these kind of statements and still doing well and having these rallies. And those vox pops you showed where people are saying, yes, we need to do them. Send them back home. Those are going around the world right now, and people realize this person is leading in the polls. That must be what Americans think. I was today with an ambassador from the Middle East. Today. And we were talking exactly about this subject. And he said, well, people in our country watch what is going on, and it makes us very concerned. So from the world perspective, it is absolutely an image, an impression, a black spot on our collective foreign policy and our conscience. And it also just -- it feeds into the ISIS narrative. It is a national security issue.

RACHEL MADDOW: That's what I wanted to ask youabout. The reaction is this is what ISIS wants to hear. You hear that a lot.

ENGEL: Of course it is.

MADDOW: How does that work? How, spell that out, why this is good for ISIS.

ENGEL: ISIS says, join the ISIS cause because the world is against Muslims and we, ISIS, are defending Muslims. So here comes Mr. Trump and says, ISIS is right. Join the ISIS team or join other radicals, or you're going to be deported, or you're going to be kicked out of the country. I kept saying, thinking to myself while he was making these statements, what exactly would this look like? I spend a lot of time on planes. So you come to the airport. Are there people standing there asking you questions? Are you a Muslim? How exactly do you prove it? Do you prove a negative? What do you know about Islam? Tell me what you think about Mohammed. Does that mean people from Indonesia, people from every corner of the Muslim world, over a billion people, including U.S. citizens?

MADDOW: The idea that U.S. citizens would have nowhere to come home to.

ENGEL: I don't understand where it's even coming from. I understand there is a fear. I understand there is a concern about ISIS. But to say that's it, no member of a particular faith in the country. It's irresponsible from a national security point of view. [MSNBC, The Rachel Maddow Show, 12/7/15]

New York Times' Thomas Friedman: "By Alienating The Muslim World" Trump "Is Acting As The Islamic State's Secret Agent." In a December 9 op-ed, New York Times opinion columnist Thomas Friedman stated that Trump's anti-Muslim proposals alienate Muslims and feed into ISIS' recruiting process, and added   "[l]umping all Muslims together as our enemies will only make" defeating ISIS "harder":

Trump, by alienating the Muslim world with his call for a ban on Muslims entering America, is acting as the Islamic State's secret agent. ISIS wants every Muslim in America (and Europe) to feel alienated. If that happens, ISIS won't need to recruit anyone. People will will just act on their own. ISIS and Islamic extremism are Muslim problems that can only be fixed by Muslims. Lumping all Muslims together as our enemies will only make that challenge harder.

[...]

As for Trump, well, he may be a deal maker, but he's no poker player ready for the Middle East five-card stud sharks. His xenophobic rhetoric and unrealistic, infantile threats of massive bombing make up the kind of simplistic hand you'd play in "Go Fish" -- not in this high-stakes game. Beyond playing into ISIS's hand by denigrating the U.S. presidency and our democratic ideals, Trump is doing real damage to America's ability to lead a coalition, the only vehicle that can effectively address this problem. [The New York Times, 12/9/15]

American Prospect's Robert Kuttner: "Every Time Trump Disparages Muslims Who Are Not Radicals, He Increases The Chances That Some Will Turn Into Radicals." In a December 8 article, American Prospect co-founder and editor Robert Kuttner called out Donald Trump for disparaging Muslims, writing that his "collected speeches are like an ISIS recruiting video":

[T]here is a second way in which Donald Trump and other right-wing Republicans are ISIS's best friends. Every time Trump disparages Muslims who are not radicals, he increases the chances that some will turn into radicals. Trump's collected speeches are like an ISIS recruiting video.

Take a close look, and none of the right-wing bravado adds up to a serious program for containing or destroying Islamist radicalism, either in the Middle East or at home. But with Americans increasingly afraid, it may have more appeal than rational leadership. [American Prospect, 12/8/15]

Boston Globe Editorial Cartoon Depicts ISIS Saying "Trump Is Playing Right Into Our Hands." In a December 8 editorial cartoon, Boston Globe cartoonist Dan Wasserman depicted ISIS members reading about Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from the United States and saying "Trump is playing right into our hands" with this proposal:

Cartoon from the Boston Globe

[The Boston Globe, 12/8/15]

ThinkProgress: Trump's "Rhetoric Bolsters The Message Of Extremist Groups Like ISIS." In a December 8 article, ThinkProgress' Justin Salhani explained that "experts say [Trump's] rhetoric bolsters the message of extremist groups like ISIS." Salhani wrote that Donald Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric and policy proposals help "ISIS gain support by convincing vulnerable youths prone to ideological radicalization that the west has an aversion to Islam":

Trump's latest proposal is driven with national security in mind. A couple in San Bernardino, California went on a killing spree last week, killing 14 people. ISIS later claimed the couple as followers, while authorities say the wife pledged allegiance to the group on her Facebook page prior to the attacks. In the wake of the San Bernardino shooting and with the Paris attacks still fresh in mind, Trump claims that Muslims pose a "dangerous threat."

While Trump assumes that stopping Muslims from entering the U.S. would boost domestic security, experts say such rhetoric bolsters the message of extremist groups like ISIS and, in correlation, increases animosity and potential retribution attacks against the U.S.

"This is precisely what ISIS was aiming for -- to provoke communities to commit actions against Muslims," Arie Kruglanski, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland who researches what motivates people to become terrorists, told the Washington Post. "Then ISIS will be able to say, 'I told you so. These are your enemies, and the enemies of Islam.'"

One of ISIS' primary talking points is about eliminating the "grayzone" of coexistence between Muslims and western society. ISIS gains support by convincing vulnerable youths prone to ideological radicalization that the west has an aversion to Islam and, by extension, their families, their various cultures and societies, and them as individuals.

"Muslims in the West will soon find themselves between one of two choices," the group published in their online magazine, Dabiq. [ThinkProgress, 12/8/15]

NBC News: "Donald Trump's Call For Closing America's Door To Muslims Is Opening A Window Of Opportunity For Groups Like ISIS." In a December 8 article, NBC News' F. Brinley Bruton and Corky Siemaszko pointed out that experts have observed how Trump's proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States "is being used by the head-chopping fanatics and other terrorists groups like al Qaeda to attract recruits by painting the land of the free as opposed to Islam":

Donald Trump's call for closing America's door to Muslims is opening a window of opportunity for groups like ISIS, counter-terrorism experts and human rights advocates say.

The Republican presidential candidate's controversial proposal for barring all Muslims from entering the United States is being used by the head-chopping fanatics and other terrorist groups like al Qaeda to attract recruits by painting the land of the free as opposed to Islam, experts told NBC News on Tuesday.

"They love him from the sense that he is supporting their rhetoric," said Rita Katz with the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors the social media activities of Islamic terrorist groups.

"They follow everything Donald Trump says," she noted. "When he says, 'No Muslims should be allowed in America,' they tell people, 'We told you America hates Muslims and here is proof.'" [NBCNews.com, 12/8/15]

MSNBC Analyst And Counterterrorism Expert: "We Are Standing By Right Now To See An ISIS Video Come Up With Donald Trump." On the December 8 edition of MSNBC's MTP Daily, MSNBC analyst and counterterrorism expert Malcolm Nance explained to host Chuck Todd how Donald Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric is helping ISIS jeopardizing U.S. intelligence missions:

CHUCK TODD (HOST): And before I let you go, how serious is -- I always hear that, you know, be careful what these politicians say of Donald Trump, it could be used for -- as ISIS propaganda. And some of the criticism of Trump has noted that. Some of the -- how much does ISIS use our political debate, maybe about rhetoric on Muslims, in their own propaganda?

MALCOLM NANCE: They use it extensively. As a matter of fact, I think we are standing by right now, to see an ISIS video come up with Donald Trump, you know, saying his rhetoric about blocking Muslims or banning Muslims from coming from coming to the United States. And saying, we told you this, the khalifa, you know, the caliphate is here for you, this is not your world. That is the land of the kufr. We are the land of the loyalists. And by doing that -- they not only compromise the, you know, people who may want to radicalize the United States and push them off the fence -- there are intelligence missions which are being carried out by officers in a covert role that are being compromised right now. We have allies who may look at us and say, do you really believe this? You know, you're Central Intelligence Agency officer --

TODD: You feel like there is a little bit of sideways looking going on now for everybody?

NANCE: Absolutely. They're looking sideways at them. And we on the ground, our soldiers are endangered by this kind of rhetoric. They need to stop it. And they need to understand that the defense of this nation stops, you know, at the water's edge. [MSNBC, MTP Daily, 12/8/15]

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