CNN Guest explains that Donald Trump is exactly what ISIS wants – as well as being a recruiting tool for the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.
A record of over 60 cases of anti-Muslim acts have been reported in the United States so far this year, according to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Arsalan Iftikhar, senior editor at The Islamic Monthly, attributed it to Donald Trump in an interview last week with CNN anchor Victor Blackwell.
Blackwell began the interview by noting that 2015 “has been a record year for anti-Muslim acts with more than 60 cases of harassment or vandalism reported.” Turning to Iftikhar he asked: “what goes through your mind, and to what do you attribute what we’re seeing?”
“I can attribute it two words,” he replied: “Donald Trump.”
Wanting to be clear, Blackwell followed up, asking: “Are you blaming Donald Trump for what we say in Palm Springs?”
Iftikhar confirmed that was correct, stating:
Yes, I am. Politically I am, Victor. What Donald Trump should know is if you’re going to replace the word Muslims with Jews and sound like a Nazi, then you probably shouldn’t say it. Governor Jeb Bush called him unhinged. Senator Lindsey Graham said that he could go to hell. Even Dick Cheney condemned Donald Trump for his rhetoric.
And you know, if we’re trying to stay safe from [ISIS], we need to not vote for Donald Trump, because he is sadly disintegrating this gray zone of coexistence which is exactly what ISIS wants. And again, we have to understand that just like we didn’t blame all Christians when the Planned Parenthood shooter, who was a self-proclaimed Christian extremist, committed those acts of terrorism, so too should we not blame the entire Muslim community for the acts of a fringe either.
Blackwell interjected: “But on the other side of that argument, all Muslims should not be blamed for the act of the fringe, but you’re blaming Donald Trump for the acts that have not been connected to him.”
“No, I’m saying that his rhetoric is leading to these sorts of acts, Victor,” Iftikhar explained, adding:
Again, if you replace Muslims with Jews or gays or Latinos or African-Americans, all of whom Donald Trump has defamed, and if we saw a spike in anti any of these hate crimes, then yes, the political rhetoric would directly tie to it. We saw flyers being passed around in Alabama from the Ku Klux Klan chapter in Alabama saying, you know, help them get rid of radical Islam; neo-Nazi websites, white supremacist websites that have said we’ve seen an increase in traffic in membership because of Donald Trump.
So again, we have to stop treating Donald Trump like a sideshow and take him very seriously with the words that he says because it is going to have a real-life impact on people who are going to be impacted by it here innocently in the United States.
Blackwell, followed up – asking:
Arsalan, I want to get your reaction to something I read that kind of stood out to me. The leader of a Muslim group in Connecticut where there’s a mosque that was shot at after the Paris attacks, he said this, “The person who fired at our mosque didn’t know us well. We have to do a better job of reaching out to people.” I wonder, is that part of the solution? I don’t know of another example where a minority group that is facing violence says it is their job to change.
Iftikhar concluded the interview, answering:
You know, sadly, Victor, if you look at a lot of public opinion polls that have been conducted since September 11th, nearly 70 percent of Americans say they don’t know a Muslim at all even though their doctor is probably a Muslim or their accountant is a Muslim or they don’t know that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mohammad Ali, Dave Chappelle, Ice Cube, Shaquille O’Neal, Dr. Oz, Fareed Zakaria from CNN, are all Muslims. And it’s all about the humanizing aspect of it.
I tell people as a human rights lawyer that it’s very hard to demonize people once they’ve been humanized. I think that that is what we have seen, for example, in the marriage equality debate. You can be opposed to marriage equality, but most people probably have a gay cousin somewhere that humanizes the issue to them. I always say I wish people had Muslim cousins so we could be humanized to average Americans as well.