Donald Trump as US president would trump rationality and tolerance

To refuse to make such a distinction would be undermining the very human rights framework we seek to uphold.

Karmanye Thadani May 14, 2016
The distinction between the religious right-of-centre and the loony religious right is more pronounced in the west as compared to India and Pakistan, where the difference is usually a blur.

An example of this is David Cameron referring to anti-Muslim bigots engaging in violent hate crimes. He said this amounts to them being no different to jihadists.

The conventional interpretation about endorsing a holy war against evils within oneself or an armed struggle in case of violation of one’s rights against the specific aggressors only after peaceful modes of conflict resolution have now been exhausted. Furthermore, former Muslims’ endorsing violent interpretations should not be seen as validating bigotry towards Muslims as people.

Many Republicans refused to believe that speaking a similar language would be the right idea to outdo Trump in the presidential race. A video was recently released by Trump’s Democrat, rival Hillary Clinton, pointing in the same direction. Political rivalries are bound to be ugly, and when the American presidency is at stake, it can hit new highs and lows.

Clinton, in a masterstroke of a political campaign, used the statements made by the Republicans against Trump in an advertisement she recently released. The remarks by Mitt Romney or Marco Rubio reveal the deep-seated antipathy towards Trump that the Republicans reserve. The video, by compiling these remarks, has managed to paint a comprehensive picture of Trump’s crass nature and regressive political beliefs. This might go a long way in promoting anti-Trump sentiments within the people of America and force them to re-consider their choice for this so-called misogynist, bigoted and racist, candidate for American presidency.

The point is that Trump’s brand of politics is not about fighting the real problem of Islamism, but about racism, misogyny, bigotry, authoritarianism and idiocy.

I, for one, have been of the firm opinion that the problem of Islamism (trying to impose a theocratic framework based on a certain politicised version of Islam that violates the rights of women, homosexuals, non-Muslims and even Muslims of other sects), has been exemplified in its most extreme forms, such as the ISIS. It is indeed the biggest ideological threat to a modern conception of human rights today as Nazism once was.

This should be acknowledged as it is, without any reservations whatsoever, as that also furnishes what I humbly submit ought to be the broad contours of an ideological roadmap for countering this menace.

Those offering conspiracy theories about jihadist terrorism should read this article. A dispassionate analysis of its rise would take us to the wrongdoings of various global powers in the west. Similarly, a purely dispassionate analysis of the rise of Nazism would take us to the injustice in the Treaty of Versailles. But such intolerant and totalitarian ideologies invoking identity-based chauvinism (interestingly, both Christian persecution of Jews and Muslim intolerance have an older history), while never having any justification, cannot even be conveniently explained on the basis of wrongdoing by others either.

However, antipathy to Nazism as an ideology shouldn’t translate into bigotry towards Germans as people, many of whom were not Jewish or Roma, resisted Nazism from the very start. Some even paid for the same with their lives, and the same can be said about Muslims vis-a-vis Islamism, like Salman Taseer, Ahmad Shah Massoud and the Kurdish fighters taking on the ISIS, even rescuing Yazidis and Christians. One must indeed also spare a thought for the secular Muslim activists like Khurram Zaki shot dead in Pakistan.

To refuse to make such a distinction would be undermining the very human rights framework we seek to uphold. It must be noted that the innocent victims of jihadist terrorism globally, especially in the Middle East, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc. have included more Muslims than those of other faiths, for the extremist minority wishes to impose its ultra-theocratic framework rejected by most Muslims.

Trump’s suggestion that every single Muslim from every part of the world should be barred from entering the United States, making all Muslims fall under the same bracket, is downright ridiculous. Such a statement only plays to the Islamist narrative of the United States being an enemy of Islam as a faith, rather than the United States seeking to uphold a culture of pluralism that the jihadists do not stand for.

Interestingly, George Bush, despite his blunder in waging war on Iraq for oil (not very different from Saddam Hussein waging war on Kuwait for oil back in 1990), understood how anti-Muslim bigotry was misplaced and counterproductive.

I have previously discussed in detail how terrorism is not a Muslim monopoly.

Most practicing Muslims, like most practicing Jews and Christians, see violent verses in their scriptures invoked by terrorists as contextual, other than suggesting broad contours of a roadmap for fighting Islamism.

Muslims who have lived the American dream, like Fareed Zakaria and Muhammed Ali (the latter was a born-American and a convert to Islam) showcase what pluralism means. They also show how US state neo-imperial activities in Iraq or Libya (not very different from those in Vietnam or Nicaragua), do not reflect on the pluralism and openness of American societies. Barring a few aberrations of minor, isolated hate crimes, there is room for everyone.

Muslims who visit that country and see what it stands for can clarify their misconceptions (as several Muslim friends of mine that have visited the United States have actually told me they have), but depriving them of that opportunity would only actually help boost radicalism. A video of a Muslim, who initially hated Israel but changed his standpoint about the country for the better after visiting, is indeed interesting in this regard.

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However, the problem with Trump’s politics is actually not confined to his bigotry towards Muslims. Though it’s not surprising someone who has such a high level of anti-Muslim bigotry is likely to not be very rational on other fronts too. His statements on Mexicans, women, Jews, Scots and the disabled, and his reluctance to condemn white supremacists and his expression of admiration for ruthless dictators, other than the racist and fascist conduct of many of his supporters, are deeply problematic.

That many of Trump’s supporters have fascist leanings is also demonstrated by some of them having allegedly beaten up a girl black and blue for just having painted a cartoon mocking Trump.

Donald Trump as US president is certainly not a good idea for the United States, or for the world at large, and is a risk not worth taking.

Hillary, on the other hand, has spoken up against anti-Muslim bigotry (despite her controversial past), condemned Trump’s stand on Mexican immigration and unlike Trump, has supported gun control measures much required in the United States. Ted Cruz, a Republican, and Bernie Sanders, a Democrat, may also still be in the race. Let’s hope the best (wo)man wins!
Karmanye Thadani A lawyer by qualification, he is a freelance writer based in New Delhi, India. He formerly worked as a research associate in a leading Delhi-based public policy think-tank, the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) WHERE he did research on primary education in India. While in high school, with a friend, he invented an eco-friendly, medically safe cleansing agent that was selected to be presented at the national level in the Intel Science Fair. He tweets as @KarmanyeThadan1 (
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