THE BLOG

The Media Is Enabling Trump's Divide-And-Conquer Strategy

08/02/2016 10:30 am ET | Updated Aug 03, 2016

There are more than 5,000 Muslims serving in various branches of the military according to the Pentagon, a fact that alone should serve as a foil to those hoping to perpetuate this idea that the War on Terror is somehow a war against Islam, a clash of civilizations, an example that Islam is incompatible with Western values, or as Trump told Anderson Cooper on CNN, " I think Islam hates us".

Yet, there I was at 5:45 a.m. on CNN having yet another debate spurred by Trump's bigoted, arrogant, and belligerent attacks on Muslims, except this time, on a mother and father who immigrated to America with their son, a captain in the Army who was awarded the Purple Heart along with he Bronze Star, in recognition for his bravery when he was killed in the line of duty in Iraq in 2004.

(As if we needed one more reason to prove why Trump is neither temperamentally, intellectually or psychologically fit to serve as our nation's commander in chief.)

The feud speaks volumes about Trump's character. He accuses Khan of "viciously attacking" him for challenging him on his proposal to ban all Muslims from America. Never mind the racist, hateful, vitriol that has been spewing out of Trump's own mouth, since he launched his presidential campaign. But Khan's mothers silence and his father's questioning of whether Trump has read the constitution, while he speaking about his son's love of country, and his family's sacrifice -- and in doing so he exposed the anti-Muslim bigotry fueling Trump's campaign -- that somehow constitutes a "vicious attack".

Then there is the glaring hypocrisy. Trump had no problem inviting Patricia Smith (another American mother who lost her son in the line of duty) to speak at the RNC and attack Hillary Clinton, blaming her for her son's death and demanding that she be put "in stripes."

But when a Muslim American mother, also grieving her son who died fighting for the country he loved, stood by her husband as he spoke at the DNC, Trump ridiculed her, implying that she wasn't allowed to speak because her faith wouldn't allow her too. His bigotry, basked in cowardice as it may be, is still proving to be effective at dividing the country, providing ammunition to extremist elements and serving as a recruitment tool for ISIS, which like Trump, have discredited the Khans, calling their son an Apostate.

Trump may not be particularly bright, but he is at least smart enough to realize that his only chance of ascending to power, to fulfill his only goal -- winning -- is to divide the country, and conquer it. What is worse, as the story continued to snowball, Trump tweeted: "This story is not about Mr. Khan, who is all over the place doing interviews, but rather RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM and the U.S. Get smart!"

He is asking fans on Twitter to get smart, and yet yesterday, in an interview with an Ohio television station, Trump lied through his teeth when he made the ridiculous claim that: "When you have radical Islamic terrorists probably all over the place ... we're allowing them to come in by the thousands and thousands ... And I think that's what bothered Mr. Khan more than anything else. And, you know, I'm not going to change my views on that."

Trump doesn't care about facts. He doesn't care about grieving mothers. He doesn't care about America. He only cares about himself, and winning at all costs. But he can only win if his surrogates and him are given the platforms to continue to distract from his lack of consistent or constructive policies to "make America great again", and instead instill fear in the heart of an already agitated electorate.

I had the unfortunate experience of debating Sajid Tarar, the founder of Muslims for Trump, on CNN. He parades across cable networks saying things like "not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslim" or that the reason Mrs. Khan didn't speak was because she was Muslim, pointing to Saudi Arabia, "where Muslim women can't speak" to make his point.

Never mind that Saudi Arabia and the severe restrictions it puts on women's freedoms, does not represent the other hundreds of millions of Muslim women around the world. Never mind that for as much as America is celebrating the possibility of electing a woman as President in 2016, the Muslim world has celebrated 9 Muslim women who have ruled their countries.

It is hardly surprising that Republican leaders are increasingly struggling to criticize Trump and separate themselves from him, without discrediting him altogether as their party's nominee. But it is surprising to see the Democratic party emerge as the party that is espousing patriotism and embracing militarism, while the Republican party is led by a man who calls the military "a disaster" and insults millions of Muslims the world over, including a mother of an American war hero.

Fox News, chose not to air the speech, instead airing a video about Khan's death, an anti-Clinton attack ad about Benghazi, commercials, and broke in with fake Breaking news about the FBI Director saying if we make gains against ISIS overseas it increases the likeliness of an attack at home.

So long as the media continues to give airtime to the Trump campaign's fear-mongering and race-baiting, he stands a real chance to win this election. Because as powerful as Mr. Khan's impassioned speech was (which even brought Rich Galen, a former press secretary for Newt Gingrich to tears), fear is is all the more powerful, and has helped many a demagogue win many an election across the world.

Unfortunately in politics in general, and increasingly in this election, perceptions matter more than facts, which is precisely why Trump has been so successful.

Still, even former Vice President Dick Cheney denounced Trump's plan to ban Muslims from immigrating to the U.S. saying "it goes against everything we stand for and believe in", and that should tell us all something.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS