Trump: A Case Study in Ignorance

Should he ever become president, Donald Trump is on course to become the Terrorist-Creator-in-Chief.

Trump: A Case Study in Ignorance

(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

By Peter Fenn | Contributor

June 15, 2016, at 8:00 a.m.

Not only is Donald Trump a clear case of someone who knows so little yet says so much, completely unprepared for the consequences of his actions, but if elected, he will put in place policies that will result in the exact opposite of what he claims he wants to achieve.

Take one issue: Islamic terrorism.

Let’s look at some numbers from Pew Research Center’s report on Muslims and Islam last December. As of 2010, there were 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, 23 percent of the population. Islam is far and away the fastest growing religion – they are projected to grow at a rate of 73 percent from 2010 to 2050, compared to 35 percent for Christians and 34 percent for Hindus. That projected growth rate is faster than the world’s population is expected to increase. While women in other religious groups have an average of 2.3 children, Muslim women have an average of 3.1.

With a median age of 23, Muslims are young compared to other religious groups, as well. Young and impressionable.

So, the real question is: What is the effect of Donald Trump’s xenophobic, vitriolic, unbridled negative view of Muslims? Bans on Muslims, shutting down places of worship, stoking fear, even political and personal attacks against the president – every day another assault.

Is he bringing Muslims together to battle the Islamic State group and other extremist groups? Hardly. Is his rhetoric encouraging clerics and mosques to cooperate in identifying possible terrorists and joining forces to prevent horrific acts of violence? No chance. Is he sending a message to the world of tolerance and solidarity with 23 percent of the world’s population? Are you kidding?

Even before Trump, before his outrageous campaign for the presidency, there were disturbing poll numbers about the Islamic State and the use of violence. Though the vast majority of Muslims deplore violence and the tactics of the Islamic State, that sentiment is not universal. Pew found that in the Palestinian territories, 40 percent say violence is sometimes justified, 39 percent agreed in Afghanistan and 29 percent in Egypt.

Suicide bombings are rejected by the vast majority of Muslims. However, one series of very disturbing results comes from the perceptions of Muslims toward the West and vice-versa. In predominantly Muslim countries, Westerners are perceived as selfish by 68 percent, violent by 66 percent, greedy by 64 percent and immoral by 61 percent. Conversely, in the U.S., Russia and Western Europe, about 50 percent perceived Muslims as fanatical and violent; the good news is that 51 percent viewed Muslims as honest, and 41 percent as generous.

The difficulty with Donald Trump, of course, is that he does not do nuance; he does not focus on the impact of his words nor the consequences of his actions. But it doesn’t take a mental giant to figure out what his campaign is doing to create a negative view of the United States by Muslims around the world.


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Let me just do a little hypothetical math here for those who are worried that Trump may be creating a much bigger problem than any of us realize. As we have established, there are over 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Let’s presume that 20 percent of those Muslims have an increasingly unfavorable view of America and the West – not evenly spread throughout the world, of course, but concentrated in much higher numbers in high-conflict areas. In shear numbers that would be 320 million Muslims who increasingly dislike America and the West. Could be more, could be less.

OK, so assume you have 10 percent of those who actually despise what Trump stands for, who feel Trump is declaring war on them and who believe that action is called for, political or violent. Sadly, you now have 32 million Muslims out of 1.6 billion who are serious about real opposition.

Now, suppose you have a small percentage – 5 percent – of the 32 million who think they are willing or able to take up arms and become terrorists. That would be 1.6 million people. OK, but only 10 percent of those actually have an opportunity or make the move to become violent. That is still a population of 160,000 individuals. That is 160,000 people to watch, keep track of and identify out of a population of over 1.6 billion.

The truly scary thing is that when you combine these vast numbers with people with serious mental illnesses, access to almost any weapon they desire and the opportunity to wreak havoc almost anywhere in the world, you have a problem that demands cool heads and careful thought.


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No question, the FBI, Homeland Security and CIA and others have produced much more sophisticated analyses than I have on playing out these scenarios. And experts have already said it is a real concern. Michael Hayden, head of the CIA and NSA under George W. Bush, said that with his divisive anti-Muslim stance, Trump is “using [the Islamic State’s] rhetoric” and “feeding their recruitment video.” Indeed, Islamic State terrorists even featured the GOP front-runner in a propaganda video to inspire new terrorist recruits. As Obama said just yesterday of Trump’s vitriol, “If we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims as a broad brush, and imply that we are at war with the entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists’ work for them.”

My point is that Donald Trump does not seem to understand what he is doing to inflame a sizable faction of 23 percent of the world’s population. He does not seem to understand what the implications of creating a crusade against the Muslim faith will be – to embolden and produce more terrorists in a climate of hate and fear, advanced by his own verbal jihad.

Trump’s stated objective of combating terrorism has been turned on its head – he will, in fact, be the Terrorist-Creator-in-Chief should he ever become president of the United States.