Originally published on johnpavlovitz.com
At this point, the Islamic State is probably ordering a big ol’ fruit basket for Donald Trump. If not they should be, because he’s doing their job for them far better than they could ever dream of doing themselves.
The front-running GOP Presidential candidate has recently doubled down on his continued dangerous stereotyping of the Muslim community, now calling for them to be barred entrance into the US altogether.
In the wake of Trump’s seemingly endless wave of incendiary rhetoric, there has been an alarming rise in acts of violence and intimidation at our American mosques and against individual Muslim citizens (or in many cases, those who even look like what Americans think Muslims look like).
Trump’s reprehensible behavior is feeding paranoia, ratcheting up fear, manufacturing violence, and nurturing a new American Christian extremism. In other words, he’s doing with little more than his own vile words exactly what the Islamic State wants to do with public beheadings and AK-47s and vest bombs.
The Islamic State’s ultimate desire is to hasten the Apocalypse; to forcefully nudge the world toward an annihilation which they believe will fully vindicate them. It is a movement that feeds on chaos and on continually and violently upping the ante, creating dissension between formerly peaceful entities. The IS sees the world (not a single country or religion) as its enemy—and bloodshed is its primary objective.
As he blusters and threats and spits out ever-more grandiose, taunting, xenophobic statements, Donald Trump is doing some important things for the IS:
He is successfully stoking the fires of fierce nationalism that operate just below the surface in the background operating system of so much American Christianity; making this a clearly marked Us against Them holy war, which all too many Christians are blindly enlisting in.
He’s removing the critical and very real line between Islam and the IS, giving lazy listeners a narrative that allows them see all Muslims as the enemy. As Trump emboldens Americans to discriminate against and commit acts of aggression toward innocent American Muslims, he’s actually encouraging two specific forms of the kind of “radicalization” we’ve all heard births terrorists:
Firstly, he’s taking the most Right-leaning extremists of American Christianity, whether from churches or talk shows or pulpits, and encouraging them to become more and more militant. Trump is brokering in fear and urgency and (for those not desiring to test their merit) giving that it all spiritual justification. Secondly, he’s giving people (Muslims and non-Muslims alike) around the world who might be vulnerable to becoming radicalized themselves (or at the very least who see the US as nothing but mean, intolerant bullies) plenty of reason to step toward such places.
In these ways, Trump is as good a recruitment tool as the Islamic State will ever find, which makes it all the more pressing that we as rational, balanced, intelligent Americans of all faiths, denounce Trump and his uninformed, inflammatory tirades and that we demand better of those who would seek to represent our nation in the world.
Christians in particular need to, in both word and deed, come alongside our peace-loving Muslim brothers and sisters and passionately defend their right to live and worship here without fear and intimidation. We need to be clear that Islam is not the enemy here, but that extremism of any kind is.
Pastors need to get into the pulpit and onto the airways and on their blogs and loudly distance themselves from Trump and his irresponsible, hateful agenda, even if it means ticking of their bases or losing a little in the collection plate.
As he carelessly chases the lowest common denominator in our country, we cannot give Donald Trump so much capital to work with. The more we buy into what he is selling, the more we make violence acceptable, the wider we dig the chasms between faith traditions, the more we diminish the very diversity our nation stands for, and the more we do the very hateful, bloody work that the Islamic State is so Hell bent on doing.
May the peaceful people again become the loudest people.