Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Trump became president in part by playing on fears, resentments and outright hatred among some segments of the American public, especially of a racial and religious sort. He bashed Mexican-Americans as drug dealers and rapists, and recently blamed Chinese-Americans for the coronavirus. But no group came in for so fierce a lashing at his hands as the 3.5 million Muslim-Americans. “I think,” he said, “Islam hates us.” He called for a moratorium on people of Muslim heritage entering the United States. He actually imposed a thinly-disguised visa ban on Libya, Somalia, Iran, Syria, and Yemen, only throwing in Venezuela and North Korea in a pro forma way to make the case to the courts that the policy isn’t a form of religious discrimination (it is).
Although there have been a few tiny terrorist groups among Muslims, it is completely unfair to blame 1.8 billion Muslims in the world for them, much less the 1% of Americans who are Muslim. Europe in the 1930s and 1940s gave us a powerful set of Fascist movements that killed millions, including over 400,000 Americans. We don’t typically see a European from one of the old Axis states and say, oh, you must hate America. Muslim governments, including those in Iraq and Egypt, have been the most effective foes of fringe extremism, and the US has designated numerous non-NATO allies among Muslim-majority countries.
Trump cynically threw out all these considerations when he demonized Muslims, contributing to a stark rise in hate crimes against them, including a string of mosque-burnings throughout the United States and hundreds of other attacks on Muslim religious sites, some of them done explicitly by Trump supporters.
So, having bad-mouthed Muslim Americans, having accused them of being too dangerous even to live in their own country, having accused them of hating their own country, who does Trump turn to in his “Operation Warp Speed,” his quest to find a vaccine for the novel coronavirus by the end of 2020? Read more