Trump doesn’t seem to realize that his rhetoric against those for whom he feels hatred and even contempt because they are different, has provoked those people into taking action based on those feelings.
The world misses Barack Obama for several reasons, among them the tolerance he tried to bring to his administration. Even though he inherited a United States that had suffered a terrorist attack on its own soil on 9/11, and then two wars that followed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama always sought to promote tolerance toward different creeds and religions. This picture is very different from the one that has emerged from the Donald Trump administration.
Not only did the new president of the United States not show solidarity with London, Paris and Brussels during the recent terrorist attacks, he seemed to be adding fuel to the fire, inflaming the situation even further.
Other western leaders have spoken of how any terrorist attack is deplorable, a reminder that extremism of any type is reprehensible. Trump, however, prefers to see these attacks primarily as an opportunity to lash out at the judges who have blocked his ban on citizens from Muslim countries entering the United States. He has made this clear in his tweets in which, far from showing solidarity with the victims of the attacks, he has chosen instead to vilify the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who is of Pakistani origin.
In doing this, Trump is ignoring what Khan himself said about the London attacks: that even though they might appear to be directed toward a specific community, in the end, they are an attack on the values of tolerance, freedom and respect. Trump forgets that these values are the basis for the economic prosperity and diversity he and his family have enjoyed, that have made possible their hotels and other real estate holdings as well as his daughter Ivanka’s marriage to Jared Kushner, who is Jewish.
It is sometimes frustrating to see heads of state or government talk about sorrow and shock when these attacks occur, because it appears they are only mouthing empty words. But it is all the more shocking to see someone like Trump, who, it seems, does not even feel the need to express shock. Far from it, Trump prefers to show that his ignorance is so great that he sees these attacks against Muslims as an acceptable part of his culture.
On top of this, the U.S. president claims that political correctness is the cause of the current violence. He doesn’t seem to take into account that with his rhetoric, he has inflamed some who feel hatred and even contempt for those who are different, causing them to act on those feelings. He justifies this by saying that there is no reason to be politically correct.
Beyond what he has written on Twitter, Trump’s disparagement of the Muslim world was reflected in the White House decision not to host a Ramadan dinner. This is the first time in two decades that has happened, (although in reality, White House Ramadan dinners have taken place for more than two centuries, if we look at accounts from Thomas Jefferson’s time of the first dinner he held with the Muslim community in 1805).
Trump’s failure to stand with other Western leaders on these issues resonates much more strongly than the self-proclaimed success of his tour of the Middle East. Trump has shown himself to be an appalling Islamophobe, and has thereby succeeded in making the world a much more insecure place. His rejection of Islam promotes exactly what extremist terrorists want: to divide and alienate, so they can attract additional recruits and succeed in getting the world to see today, after less than a year, that what at the time appeared to be isolated acts in Bataclán, Nice and Brussels were not exceptions, but facts of life which we in the West will have to get used to.