President Barack Obama said in a recent speech, “Muslim-Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes.”
That left presidential candidate Donald Trump perplexed:
One of those Muslims sports heroes – a list that also includes Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Rasheed Wallace and Kenneth Faried (and Muhammad Ali, pictured above with Trump) – responded to Trump.
What makes his statement even more insidious is the suggestion that, even if there were no Muslim sports heroes, Muslims would somehow be lesser people, less worthy. This cruel and dim-witted thinking is not the stuff presidents are made of.
Some Americans are now so afraid that they are willing to trade in the sacred beliefs that define America for some vague promises of security from the very people who are spreading the terror. “Go ahead and burn the Constitution — just don’t hurt me at the mall.” That’s how effective this terrorism is.
I’m not talking about ISIS. I’m talking about Donald Trump.
This is not hyperbole. Not a metaphor. Webster defines terrorism as “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal; the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.”
If violence can be an abstraction — and it can; that’s what a threat is — the Trump campaign meets this definition. Thus, Trump is ISIS’s greatest triumph: the perfect Manchurian Candidate who, instead of offering specific and realistic policies, preys on the fears of the public, doing ISIS’s job for them.
“Terrorism” is a troublesome term, one often used to described any crime by a Muslim and rarely applied to any other group. It’s not helpful in analyzing issues. In fact, it’s harmful. (You can read more on the word “terrorism” from Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept.)
So, I’m not really interested in debating whether Trump is a “terrorist.”
But Abdul-Jabbar makes sound points about Trump, whose plans for Muslims are scary and dangerous. Rather than laboring on the number of Muslim athletes as if it were an important issue, Abdul-Jabbar addresses key matters of security vs. freedom. He shows bravery in the face of fear-mongering.
Shouldn’t we expect the same of our public officials?
Abdul-Jabbar’s points are worth considering before voting on whether to make Trump one.