*This story has been updated here (portions of the text were recycled).
Based on Donald Trump’s long-standing alliance with white supremacists and neo-Nazis, it’s difficult to be surprised that he recently retweeted anti-Muslim propaganda videos from Britain First, a fascist, anti-immigrant organization whose deputy leader Jayda Fransen has been convicted of hate crimes. However, this incident should be taken very seriously, since it could threaten the lives of Muslims in the U.S. and throughout the world.
In recent years, American Muslims have increasingly been victims of violent assault, intimidation, and discrimination. Hate crimes perpetrated against this religious minority have recently surpassed 2001 levels, and the number of anti-Muslim hate groups operating in the U.S. has increased exponentially since 2010. This disgusting series of tweets, combined with Trump’s attempted Muslim travel ban and his consistent xenophobic rhetoric, indicates a presidential stamp of approval when it comes to bigotry and violence against our Muslim brothers and sisters.
It’s also not surprising that one of the retweeted videos appears to be inaccurate in its claim that the violent assailant featured is a “Muslim migrant”, while the other clips were filmed during regional conflicts and are therefore deceptively displayed out of context, attempting to portray Muslims as blood-thirsty savages. But the context and accuracy of the content disseminated by professional bigots like Trump is secondary to ideological objectives.
In Trump’s delusional world, up is down and black is white. Legitimate criticism is dismissed as “fake news,” while Trump himself constantly makes unfounded statements that his followers swallow without question. I mean, this guy is the godfather of the racist “Birther” conspiracy theory, for God’s sake! There’s never been any indication that Trump or his associates take reality into consideration before making public statements or social media posts. And this time, they’ve even admitted it, to an extent. When questioned about the veracity of the “Muslim migrant” video, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “Whether it is a real video, the threat is real.”
Okay, so maybe the Tweetmaster is really just concerned with “threats” against the safety of American citizens. Maybe he’s concerned not only with radical Islamists, but also with right-wing domestic terrorism, which has accounted for 73% of the terror attacks in the U.S. since September 11, 2001. He must be concerned, since U.S. law enforcement agencies “consider anti-government violent extremists, not radicalized Muslims, to be the most severe threat of political violence.” And what about the rise in white supremacist violence? The Donald must lose sleep at night worrying that, as we speak, there’s another Dylann Roof or James Alex Fields in the making.
Just kidding. As Mehdi Hasan of The Intercept rhetorically asked:
“Why would a president who has repeatedly retweeted white supremacist Twitter accounts such as WhiteGenocideTM, appointed a white nationalist to be one of his delegates in California, accepted campaign donations from white nationalist leaders, picked a white nationalist as his chief strategist in the White House, and been officially endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan want to turn a blind eye to the domestic terror threat from white supremacists and nationalists and put American lives in danger?”
Okay, okay. Trump may turn a blind eye to white, cisgendered, heterosexual, Christian, family-man terrorism (as long as it’s making America great again), but he’s really concerned with foreign Islamist extremism, right?
As I’ve hinted at in other posts, much of the organized Islamist violence that does occur is a response to (or result of) Western imperialism and colonialism. If Trump truly cared about reducing this specific form of terrorism, he’d vehemently denounce our violent global empire, immediately withdraw American troops from the (at least) 70 countries they’re currently occupying, and slash the obscene $700 billion annual Pentagon budget. Alas, I admit this is a pipe dream. Maybe he could at least go after the main global purveyor of the ultra-conservative Wahhabi ideology behind terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Qaeda. You know — the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia is not only the single largest exporter of Islamist terrorism in the world, but many Saudi individuals and organizations were also culpable in the largest terrorist attack on American soil. As Branko Marcetic of Jacobin explains:
“Fifteen of the nineteen [9/11] hijackers were Saudi nationals, and the attack was planned by a scion of one of the country’s wealthiest and politically connected families. The hijackers, we now know thanks to the release of twenty-eight previously classified pages from the 9/11 commission’s report, had ties to members of the Saudi government, including the Saudi ambassador to the United States, who also belongs to the country’s royal family. … Intelligence services suspect various Saudi charities of funding extremists, including the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation… Moreover, multiple members of the 9/11 commission have said they believe Saudi officials were involved in the attack.”
The Saudi government has also armed extremists in Syria, and is currently conducting a large-scale bombing campaign against the defenseless, poverty-stricken population of Yemen. This is on top of the cholera epidemic that has recently ravaged the country, and some say this vicious military aggression may be reaching genocidal proportions. If that’s not “Islamic terrorism”, I don’t know what is.
Obviously Trump is strongly opposed to the aforementioned machinations of this infamous Gulf monarchy, right? Again — just kidding. After the president’s gleeful little trip to Saudi Arabia last May, he proposed a $500 million weapons sale to the kingdom (part of a $110 billion package), which narrowly passed the Senate in June. Oh, and remember that travel ban? Well, strangely enough, Saudi Arabia didn’t make the cut.
The doctrine of Trumpism shows no opposition to violence in general, no real concern for the spread of Islamist terrorism, and no real concern for protecting American citizens. Then why all the hysteria over Islam? Well, it’s simple; the contempt Trump and other white nationalists exhibit toward Muslims (especially those of Middle-Eastern and African descent) is primary based on xenophobia and ethno-nationalist views promoting the superiority of “Western civilization”, not on some rational concern for imminent attacks.
A window into this vile worldview is the tale of Steve Bannon and The Camp of the Saints. Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist and architect of the Muslim travel ban, often used the aforementioned French novel as a metaphor for his geopolitical concerns. Bannon’s “alt-right” news outlet Breitbart has also referenced the book, whose narrative involves hordes of Indian barbarians migrating to Europe to initiate the end of Western (i.e. white) civilization. Paul Blumenthal and J.M. Rieger of Huffington Post explain:
“The white Christian world is on the brink of destruction, the novel suggests, because these black and brown people are more fertile and more numerous, while the West has lost that necessary belief in its own cultural and racial superiority.”
Stanford professor Cécile Alduy said the book is “racist in the literal sense of the term. It uses race as the main characterization of characters,” and Republican commentator Linda Chavez called it “shockingly racist.” The Camp of the Saints has been published various times in the U.S., and was often funded, promoted, and celebrated by the anti-immigration movement and even advocates of population control like the pro-eugenics Pioneer Fund.
Admiration of such repulsive drivel is the result of an abhorrent white supremacist ideology that has been festering like a cancer in our society from the very beginning, and has lately seen a resurgence. If monsters like Bannon and Richard Spencer get their way, it could result in ethnic cleansing and genocide. But this emerging tyranny is more complex than your average run-of-the-mill Americanized Nazism. It’s also important to recognize the alliance that has been built between white nationalists and right-wing Christian extremists like Mike Pence and Betsy DeVos, because it indicates a plot-twist in these sinister Western prospects.
Britain First’s “Christian patrols” have filmed themselves traveling to local mosques to taunt and intimidate Muslims, like some two-bit Nazi Brownshirt gang. But the Brownshirts predated the formation of the Nazi Party, so let’s be cognizant of the possibility of history repeating itself on this front, not only in the U.K., but in the U.S. as well. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges has been documenting the rise of the Christian right for many years, and has recently warned that the Trump administration could serve as the vehicle for a “Christianized fascism” that has been developing for decades:
“The evangelicalism promoted by the Christian right is very different from the evangelicalism and fundamentalism of a century ago. The emphasis on personal piety that defined the old movement, the call to avoid the contamination of politics, has been replaced by Christian Reconstructionism, called Dominionism by some. This new ideology is about taking control of all institutions, including the government, to build a ‘Christian’ nation. Rousas John Rushdoony…argued that God gives the elect, just as he gave Adam and Noah, dominion over the earth to build a Christian society. Their state will come about with the physical eradication of the forces of Satan. It is the duty of the church and the elect to ‘rescue’ the world so Christ can return.
Tens of millions of Americans are already hermetically sealed within this bizarre worldview. They are given a steady diet of conspiracy theories and lies on the internet, in their churches, in Christian schools and colleges and on Christian television and radio. Elizabeth Dilling, who wrote ‘The Red Network’ and was a Nazi sympathizer, is required reading. Thomas Jefferson, who favored separation of church and state, is ignored. This Christian propaganda hails the ‘significant contributions’ of the Confederacy. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who led the anti-communist witch hunts in the 1950s, is rehabilitated as an American hero. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, along with the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, is defined as part of the worldwide battle against satanic Islamic terror. Presently, nearly 40 percent of the U.S. public believes in Creationism or ‘Intelligent Design.’ And nearly a third of the population, 94 million people, consider themselves evangelical.
Those who remain in a reality-based universe often dismiss these malcontents as buffoons. They do not take seriously the huge segment of the public, mostly white and working class, who because of economic distress have primal yearnings for vengeance, new glory and moral renewal and are easily seduced by magical thinking. These are the yearnings and emotions Trump has exploited politically.”
The Trump regime already has elements in common with traditional fascism, including ethno-nationalism, xenophobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric, an obsession with masculinity and “strength,” attacks on the press, and of course, the militarism and imperialism that were inherited from previous administrations. If we see greater indications that a Christian fascism is taking hold, I wouldn’t be surprised if it rides to power on the back of anti-Muslim paranoia and scapegoating. They’ll denounce “Islamic Sharia” until they’re blue in the face, and instead, they’ll implement a white nationalist Christian Sharia - a glistening new paradise for the Ku Klux Klan.
Religious extremism is a problem in this country, but Trumpian dogma provides a poor prognosis. So, let’s keep the American Taliban on a short leash, because the threat is real.