A New Era in American Politics
This report analyzes how far-right Islamophobic discourse has been mainstreamed with the election of President Donald J. Trump. Through qualitative research examining the rhetoric employed by the Trump campaign and subsequent administration, the report finds that senior Trump administration appointments share a common belief that Islam and Muslims are a danger to the United States. This view has been present in the far-right world of bloggers and pundits and ballooned following the horrific events of September 11th, 2001, but is now represented in the White House by key members of the Trump administration. Further, the Trump administration has already begun to enact its anti-Muslim and anti-Islam policies. The study finds that the 45th President and his administration’s rhetoric and guidelines normalize Islamophobia thus creating an environment in which discriminatory policies targeting Muslims are legal.
"Islam hates us" - Donald J. Trump
Summary of Findings
- Whether intentional or not, the strategies of the Trump campaign brought fringe and far-right personalities and ideas to the mainstream. The campaign was imbued with problematic and discriminatory rhetoric, from President Trump asserting “Islam hates us,” to his National Security Advisor pick stating that Islam is a “cancer.” The politicization and racialization of Islam and Muslims played a central role in the Trump campaign.
- Donald Trump’s White House is staffed by individuals appointed to positions of power who support discriminatory, prejudicial, and even hateful views of Muslims and Islam. An overview of just some of of the individuals in the Trump Administration provides evidence that Islamophobia has been legitimized and mainstreamed by the current White House.
- The Trump campaign gained support using tailored messaging to capitalize on the growing fear, misunderstanding, and antipathy toward Islam and Muslims. President Trump’s rhetoric during his campaign identified Islam and Muslims as a danger, deviating from previous administrations that distinguished between “mainstream” and “radicalized” Muslims, identifying only the latter as a threat.
- By promising “a complete and total ban” on Muslims to the U.S. “until we can figure out what the hell is going on,” Trump effectively ‘otherized’ 3 million Muslim Americans, not to mention the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide.
- Many officials in the Trump administration believe Islam is not a religion, but a political ideology that is “metastasizing,” and thus requires militant action. This line of thought has been advocated by far-right anti-Muslim organizations for years. This othering of around one percent of the U.S. population has resulted in an increase in hate crimes and bullying as well as anti-Muslim attitudes.
- Individuals in the administration are well-connected to anti-Muslim activists and organizations, whose arguments revolve around tying the religion of Islam (not just the use of religion by militants) to violence, referring to it as “Radical Islam” and “Islamic Fascism” or “Radical Islamic terror.” The far-right anti-Muslim movement has capitalized on this by shaping a violent militant narrative about Islam and Muslims to support their militant agenda.
- The Trump administration no longer adheres to past administrations’ nuanced rhetoric and openly declares itself to be in a war with Islam.
- The 45th president and his administration promote Islamophobia through rhetoric and policy by creating an environment where discriminatory policies that target Muslims are legitimate, and tolerated or actively supported by the people who form Trump’s base.
- With the Trump administration already attempting to execute campaign promises, the future for American Muslims remains uncertain. U.S. civil rights and liberties’ groups expect that there will be greater government efforts to enact legislation and policies that undermine American Muslims’ civil liberties.
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