Donald Trump’s demand that all Muslims be banned from America has worked.It sparked exactly the kind of furore he hoped it would, and we’re all once again talking about little else but Donald Trump.This was no casual aside or slip of the tongue.It was a deliberate, carefully planned delivery of highly toxic, inflammable rhetoric designed to get the whole country up in arms.And new poll numbers indicate Trump’s popularity has gone UP not down in the last 36 hours.Love him or loathe him, and I personally love him but loathe this latest stunt (and have emailed him to say this) Trump knows how to dominate the news cycle like no presidential candidate in history.
He’s been wall-to-wall on U.S. network and cable news shows since making his ban-Muslim comments, andsocial media has been predictably ablaze with people violently agreeing and disagreeing with him.Today, it’s clear that far from wrecking his campaign as many thought it would, his outrageous plan has increased his standing with core Republican voters.Why?Well not because they hate all Muslims, although I’m sure some do.No, it’s because Trump used 9/11 to justify his stance, and there is no more powerful tool for a Republican candidate to utilise when whipping up votes than the worst terror attack on U.S. mainland.As with all Trump ‘scandals’ that we’ve witnessed since he entered the race in June, there is a kernel of truthto what he says.
It is undeniable, as he claims, that a significant number of Muslims, or rather twisted jihadists who’ve hijacked Islam, hate America and want to destroy it with more attacks like 9/11.How many?Where are they?What are they planning?Nobody knows. That’s the problem.All we can be fairly certain of is that some, like the husband and wife who committed the San Bernardino massacre last week, are lurking in the shadows of U.S. cities and towns right now, radicalised and armed tothe teeth, ready to kill and maim Americans.Just as they are in Britain, Germany and France.There will be more Islamic-related terror outrages, and with each one Trump will say he’s been vindicated.It’s fine for people like me to point out that far more mass shootings will be committed by white Christians, as they have been and will be, but most Americans are immune to gun violence and frankly don’t care.They just see a very dangerous medieval enemy in ISIS that is marauding around the world beheading, stoning and setting fire to anyone that stands in their way.And now, since San Bernardino, ISIS and its sympathisers are seen to be living and plotting on Americans’ own doorsteps, and it’s freaking everyone out.
Muhammad Ali is right to say, as he did in a statement last night, that ‘true Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.’He is also right to demand political leaders make more effort to better explain Islam and emphasise that ‘misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what it really is.’But the reason Trump’s new, stunningly divisive message is resonating with so many Americans is that none of his opponents seems to have a clue how better to deal with this deadly threat, especially President Obama.Like the new enemy, Trump hits us –verbally – very, very hard.There’s no lengthy, calm, measured, professorial thesis on big issues, of the kind we regularly see from Obama.Trump just takes a firm position and smashes it into the public consciousness in brusque, simple, uncompromising language that everyone can understand.And when it comes to ISIS, the American people are desperate for some kind of clarity.As Obama is seen to be fiddling while Rome burns, Trump is seen, whether you agree with him or not, to at least have an understanding of the immediacy and scale of the threat and a clear determination to try and deal with it.There’s a political motivation, of course there is.The more Trump gets attacked for his controversial opinions on Islamic fundamentalism, the more airtime he gets and the more his ratings soar.That’s why he does it.But I don’t doubt for a minute that he believes what he says, nor that he genuinely considers ISIS to be the No1 threat to America’s national security.It’s easy, as many do, to dismiss Trump as a bloviating old racist, or try and ban him as my own countrymen are currently trying to do.(I note that nobody has signed a petition in the UK to stop known terror suspects returning from warzones in Iraq and Syria, so presumably they’re considered less dangerous than a billionaire tycoon?)But Trump’s not the enemy here, ISIS are – and it’s very important to remember that.I watched President Obama’s address to the nation from the Oval Office a few days ago and thought it wasdreadful.He sounded utterly devoid of any real new ideas on how to tackle ISIS, whose military and economic power strengthens every day.He spoke in weary tones of how we were going to beat them but nobody listening to him could have felt remotely convinced that he has a clue how this will actually happen.His current strategy clearly isn’t working, yet all he promises is more of the same.Obama’s whole attitude to ISIS has always been breathtakingly complacent, and now this casual approach has come back to haunt him.
It’s a similar situation in the UK, where armed SAS soldiers are hiding on rooftops all over London while our politicians try to convince us there’s nothing much to worry about.There’s a massive amount to worry about, trust me.America and Britain will both be hit by ISIS on a Paris scale, sooner rather than later, and when we do, our collective resolve for this fight will be put to its biggest test.I don’t agree with, or like, Donald Trump’s call to ban all Muslims.I think it’s illegal, unconstitutional and downright bigoted.But by taking such an extreme position, he may force more timid politicians like President Obama to finally confront this ISIS menace properly – before it’s too late.Saying all Muslims are potential terrorists is stupid and dangerous.But pretending none of them are is even more stupid and dangerous.