During his January 20th Inaugural Address, President Donald Trump vowed to eradicate “radical Islam” from “the face of the Earth.”
Islam is a universally recognized religion that is roughly 1500 years old. While the ACLU reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has never defined the term “religion,” federal courts in America have recognized that Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, is a universally accepted religious faith. What the Supreme Court has recognized are “religious beliefs” that are “sincerely held” by people of particular religions such as Christianity and Islam.
President Equates “Radical Islam” and Terrorism
In the context of Islam, the New York Times has defined the term “radical” to mean “extreme views, practices and policies.” In recent years, the newspaper reported, the term “radical Islam” has assumed dark connotations, to the point that “terrorism” is perceived as an inherent component of Islam. Nothing could be further from the truth.
But truth, in both religion and politics, has never enjoyed much credibility, especially with Mr. Trump and his administration. Truth has consistently been shaped and defined by those with specific agendas. This was evidenced during the January 22, 2017 edition of Meet the Press when President Trump’s communications director, Kellyanne Conway, told the show’s host, Chuck Todd, that there are “alternative facts” to real facts, to which Todd responded that alternative facts are “falsehoods.” They are.
Alt Right and White Nationalist Regularly Malign Islam
President Trump professes to be a Christian who has surrounded himself with “alt right” individuals. The so-called “alternative right” was created in 2008, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, by white nationalist Richard B. Spencer whose far right ideology is rooted in a Christian “white identity.” The President’s National Security Adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, is also an alt-right adherent who has regularly maligned the entire religion of Islam, much like Spencer has.
Alt Right Would Deny Islam 1st Amendment Protections
Alt Right individuals, like Spencer and Flynn, earnestly believe that Islam poses a threat to Western civilization. Their view of Islam was articulated in a March 2011 post by the conservative website RenewAmerica:
“Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. While there certainly ought to be a presumption of religious liberty for non-Christian religious traditions in America, the Founders were not writing a suicide pact when they wrote the First Amendment.
“Our government has no obligation to allow a treasonous ideology to receive special protections in America, but this is exactly what the Democrats are trying to do right now with Islam.
“From a constitutional point of view, Muslims have no First Amendment right to build mosques in America. They have that privilege at the moment, but it is a privilege that can be revoked if, as is in fact the case, Islam is a totalitarian ideology dedicated to the destruction of the United States. The Constitution, it bears repeating, is not a suicide pact. For Muslims, patriotism is not the last refuge of a scoundrel, but the First Amendment is.”
President’s Advisors Issue Troubling Statements
The ideology of people surrounding the President, and perhaps the President himself, view Islam as a “treasonous ideology.” While the President confined his inaugural remarks to “radical Islam,” those of us who believe in the First Amendment’s protection of the right to worship one religious faith must find concern in Trump’s stated intention to “eradicate” radical Islam from the face of the earth. We don’t know if he shares the ideology of his Alt Right inner circle who believe there is no distinction between Islam and radical Islam.
Tom Barrack has served as an economic and national security adviser to President Trump and was chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Like Kellyanne Conway, Barrack also appeared on Meet the Press during which he supported the right of a nation to bulldoze a mosque in which a “radical Mullah” is “preaching ‘eradicate the infidels.’”
The term “eradicate” seems to be part of the political lexicon of the Trump administration. The term eradicate means to “destroy completely.” The Alt Right accepts the term literally, and when the term is associated with Islam, we cannot help but believe that the eradication of “radical Islam” is one of those “alternative facts” designed to conceal the political ambition to “destroy completely” the Islamic faith.
Dangerous Times Indeed
These are truly dangerous times in which we now live. People with dark motives now control the reins of power in this country. While American Muslims must be vigilant of these people and their bigoted rhetoric, they must also gird themselves for a fight. We all know too well what happens when a nation tries to eradicate a religion.