[Photo Credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images]
In the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting and large scale loss of life in Orlando, Donald Trump quickly took the stage on behalf of his campaign and called once again for a total immigration ban of Muslims into the United States. He said the U.S. must suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is “a proven history of terrorism.”
Donald Trump may have forgotten that his words can also terrorize as they incite and mobilize fear. Or perhaps he hasn’t forgotten at all.
Perhaps that is precisely his campaign strategy.
Perhaps he is quite aware of its efficacy.
We must ask these questions of ourselves:
What will Donald Trump’s rhetoric do to us?
What will it incite and mobilize in Americans?
There has been a lot of debate concerning the forms of terminology used to describe ideologies of terrorism done in the name of Islam. Politicians are throwing words around, and Donald Trump implied recently that President Obama has hidden motives because he has not used the precise words ‘radical Islam.’ President Obama responded to this accusation quite fiercely on Tuesday, denouncing Trump’s claim and declaring an immigration ban to be dangerous.
Inaccurate and irresponsible language behind these debates can easily ignite a culture of Islamophobia and violence against Muslims in the U.S. and around the world.
Donald Trump says his proposed immigration ban will be temporary “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” I shudder to think what his conclusion would be to that inquiry.
Since Donald Trump is already scapegoating Muslim immigrants and speaking information that is blatantly false (for instance, saying publicly that the Orlando shooter was “born an Afghan” while he was a lifelong U.S. citizen) I do not have confidence that Donald Trump would accurately assess ‘what is going on,’ nor that he would address challenges without incendiary language toward exclusion and violence.
Yes, I shudder to imagine Donald Trump’s conclusion to ‘what is going on.’
I fear the ways this rhetoric can radicalize us.
Do we really think we are incapable of mass violence ourselves? Are we unwilling to recognize the ways we commit violence in this nation and around the world in the name of our fears and mistrust? Can we deny that too often in our history we have sought to dominate others and abuse power? Will we recognize that any religion or national ideology can serve as the platform for radicalized violence?
We have opened the door to this language.
How will it affect our world?