Less than a day after the Brussels Attacks, and just a few hours removed from calling for the reinstatement of waterboarding and new laws on legal torture, Donald Trump again took his Islamophobic rhetoric to dangerously new heights, blaming Muslims as a whole for the attack and saying the Muslim community is sheltering terrorists from law enforcement.
In an interview with ITW Britain on Wednesday, Trump remarked “It’s like they’re protecting each other. They have to report the bad ones. And if you report the bad ones, then all of a sudden you’re not going to have the problems.”
He continued his delusional insistence by saying “I would say this to the Muslims, and in the United States also: When they see trouble, they have to report it. And they’re not reporting it. They’re absolutely not reporting it. And that’s a big problem.”
As we have seen time and again with Trump on the campaign trail, the statistical truth isn’t as important as the lies upholding his broader ideology. As it relates to Paris, San Bernardino, and the most recent attacks in Belgium, Trump’s idea that Muslim communities are somehow uniquely and collectively responsible for Islamic terrorism (while in the same breath ironically making videos supporting law enforcement saying that they ARE NOT responsible for “a few bad apples”) represents an incredibly dangerous thought process that millions of vulnerable Americans have attached themselves towards.
To begin with, once again, despite The Donald feeling certain that he has uniquely identified a problem that “nobody else is talking about” the simple fact – at least in the United States – is that Muslim-Americans have been overwhelmingly cooperative with American authorities when questioned.
In a 2014 study conducted by University of North Carolina sociologist Charles Kurzman – which identified 188 cases since 9/11 where the police had publicly identified a Muslim American as a suspected terrorist (and subsequently where the original tip came from) – found that 54 individuals were brought to the government’s attention due to tips from various members of the Muslim-American community. This demographic represented the single largest source of tips identified in the study.
Another study by University of Maryland’s Alejandro Beautel found that Muslim-American community members provided critical information in nearly 40% of disrupted plots between 2001 and 2011. While this is far from perfect, it is patently false to put the entirety of this blame on the Muslim-American community instead of notoriously strained relations between police officers and communities of color.
None of this, of course, matters all too much for the GOP front-runner.
Coming from the man who claimed thousands of Muslims celebrated 9/11, in his mind there are only terrorist Muslims and Muslims not doing enough to fight terrorism, with former vastly outweighing the latter. Nothing else is pertinent on the subject, least of all empirical evidence to its irrefutable falsehood.
As it relates to the Brussels Attacks, the notion that Muslim communities as a whole are collectively sitting on insider knowledge is utterly absurd. While it is easy to get magnified in the astonishing atrocities these attacks bring out, the most conservative of estimates put the number of ISIS operatives leaving Syria and Iraq to fight in Europe at around 500 fighters. To be sure, these fighters are dangerous, have the ability to inflict substantial damage, and must be killed, but the idea that the whereabouts and intentions of 500 people are known by 1.2 billion is delusional at best.
Sadly this is the logic we have come to expect from Trump, and his nativist, isolationist rhetoric has seeped its way into co-option by his chief rival as well. This belief is just the latest from the demagogue who wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States until we can “figure out what’s going on.”
In the minds of the GOP, Muslims worldwide are collectively responsible for the sins of a tiny radical minority. Kind of like, you know, how all Christians are responsible for the KKK, the group he likes to play footsie with.