WHY TRUMP’S PHRASE ‘RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM’ IS “IDIOTIC”

Trump RIA

There were quite a few three-word-catchphrases we heard repeatedly from Candidate Trump, phrases such as “drain the swamp,” “repeal and replace,” “build the wall,” “fake news media,” and the crowd pleasing “lock her up.” Another linguistic triumvirate that was and still is used by Trump is “radical Islamic terrorism” (or “radical Islamic extremism”).

Whilst this is something I have commented on previously, I feel it is something that requires further commentary. Only recently did we see President Trump say the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” whilst standing next to the rather confused looking German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House (the Mar-A-Lago of the north). Then, right on cue and as if by magic, one of these aforementioned radicalised Muslims was shot dead at a French airport the very next day. Fast forward a few days later and we have yet another radicalised Muslim shot dead in London before he killed several people, including a police officer.

The weirdly ironic thing is the night before this horrid attack took place in London, I was watching the following 7 minute video from Vox called This Is Your Brain On Terrorism, a video that was certainly applicable at the time I watched it, but is somehow even more essential for viewing by all now:

I have no doubt that over the coming days I will do a separate blog on this horrible incident, which has generated the usual media cycle of attack by Muslim, followed by protests by Muslims on how peaceful Islam is, followed by media analysis of how this person was radicalised. Rinse and repeat. For the moment, however, I would instead like to focus on Trump and his obsession with his mantra of “radical Islamic terrorism.” Here are a few points to note…


Trump thinks these words might actually be magic…

Let’s begin with the journalist Mark NC who in November 2015 made the following cutting remark:

The warped philosophy of conservatives in America has long held that the primary reason for the persistence of terrorism is that President Obama and other Democrats are reluctant to utter the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” They somehow have concluded that those magical words are key to defeating groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS. And they wonder why we think they’re stupid. – Mark NC, Nov 2015

Trump RIA Beetlejuice

He followed this up seven months later with the idea of these words somehow being a kind of reverse Beetlejuice doctrine:

Radical Islamic Terrorism. Radical Islamic Terrorism. Radical Islamic Terrorism. There, I said it three times. Is it gone yet? In the childish imagination of American conservatives the only reason that terrorism still exists is that President Obama and other Democrats have failed to utter the magical incantation “Radical Islamic Terrorism.” The Wingnut Republican Tabernacle and the Pharisees of Fox News have devoutly concluded that this mantra is the key to defeating groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS. They believe that it is rhetorical kryptonite to terrorists. And then they wonder why we think they’re stupid. What we have here is the widespread adoption of the fabled “Reverse Beetlejuice Doctrine” wherein you shout “Radical Islamic Terrorism” three times and ISIS disappears. It’s clearly an obsession with these strategery geniuses. – Mark NC, Jun 2016

Just in case you’re wondering where the word ‘strategery’ originates from…


The previous President chose to phrase things differently…

Former president Barack Obama used the phrase “violent extremism,” which severed the violence carried out by terrorists from any immediate association with theology. Trump and many of his associates, meanwhile, have been explicit about their belief that Western democracy is at war with Islam. – Peter Holley


Trump’s own national security adviser says we should not use these words…

Trump at first hired Michael Flynn as his national security adviser, a man who had previously called Islam a “cancer.” Flynn, very shortly into his tenure, had to resign due to close (very close) ties with Russia. The new NSA appointed by Trump is one General H R McMaster, a man who says we should drop the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” as it has nothing to do with Islam, rather the terrorists have twisted Islam to fit their own motives. This to me is another example of Allah being the best of planners.

H.R. McMaster urged the president in a closed-door meeting to refrain from using the words “radical Islamic terrorism,” according to Politico. McMaster’s reasoning, according to CNN, is that terrorists who profess to act in accordance with Islam aren’t true adherents of the religion but anomalies who pervert its teachings. McMaster argued that using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” damages the country’s ability to partner with key allies, many of whom are Muslim. – Peter Holley

Trump Radical Cartoon


Even Trump’s man-crush Putin says we should not use this phrase…

The New York Times reported that Putin has a long history of trying not to link terrorists to Islam and goes so far as referring to the Islamic State as “the so-called Islamic State.” “I would prefer Islam not be mentioned in vain alongside terrorism,” Putin said at a news conference in December, according to the Times. – Peter Holley


A brilliant article about the word ‘inshallah’ and how it could counter the Islamophobic threat…

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian has written a must-read article called ‘Inshallah’ In The Age Of Trump which asks the question “Can the hipster invocation of God’s will survive the coming wave of American Islamophobia?

The article makes several interesting points about language, culture, and history, including the following:

There’s now a good chance inshallah may find a permanent home in English. But those afraid of creeping inshallah should take heart. This wouldn’t be the first time that the word has imbedded itself in a Western language. Ojalá is a common Spanish word often translated as “hopefully.” In fact, ojalá is merely the Hispanicized pronunciation of inshallah, which made its way into the language during the centuries of Muslim rule in Spain that ended in 1492. Yet as far as I can tell, despite this obvious case of linguistic jihad, neither Spain nor the 20 other countries where Spanish is the official national language has yet fallen to the Muslim Brotherhood. – Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian

Donald Trump Campaigns In Key States During Weekend Ahead Of General Presidential Election


Finally, an article I would kindly urge everyone to read in full…

I came across the following article from Tom Rogan, writing for the Daily Beast, that is well worth reading in its entirety, which is why I have presented it below in full. It delves into Islamic theology and history to explain why “Trump’s phrase is idiotic.”


RADICALLY STUPID

Why This Conservative Says ‘Radical Islamic Terrorism’ Should Be Rejected—By Conservatives

The president thinks he has a winning phrase here, and maybe it is in the heartland. But in the Muslim heartland, it’s heard even by reasonable people as ‘America hates you.’

Tom Rogan, 16 Mar 2017

President Trump is in love with the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.”

When he’s talking foreign policy you can bet he’ll pull it out the bag. And you can bet he’ll repeat it. His body language tells the tale. Every time the president utters “radical Islamic terrorism,” his eyes glint and he nods in self-regard. He knows he’s found something simple, punchy, and popular with the vast majority of conservatives. In three words, he identifies a threat and hints at easy solutions.

Unfortunately Trump’s phrase is idiotic.

For a start, it assumes all Islamic terrorists source their ideology from a sustaining set of beliefs. They most certainly do not. Aside from their appreciation for the Koran, the five pillars of Islam, and Muhammad, Islamists vary in their theological interpretations, political structures, and strategic intentions. At a very basic level are the distinctions between Sunni and Shia Islam. While Sunni vs. Shia characterizations are often used in overly simplistic ways to assess particular circumstances (Maliki hates Sunnis, etc.), they help inform distinctions between modern Islamic terrorist groups. And identifying just a few of these distinctions helps explain why “radical Islamic terrorism” is as useful a strategic catch-all phrase for counterterrorism as “use varied foods” is to our ability to make a good consommé.

Take the legacy of history and modern Islamic political identity. As it pertains to terrorism, the martyrdom of Shia leader Husayn ibn Ali at the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE is especially noteworthy here. Regarded by Shia Muslims as dishonorably murdered at the battle’s climax, Husayn is also revered for refusing to submit to Sunni tyranny.

In a useful example of modern relevance, consider Shia interpretations of Husayn’s death and the strategic identity of the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group. Seeing themselves as heirs to Husayn’s piety and intransigence against powerful tyrants, Hezbollah places special emphasis on the celebration of patient sacrifice and martyrdom. Unlike Daesh (or ISIS), for example, iconic symbolism plays a heavy role in Hezbollah’s identity. So does appreciation for time. Seeing themselves as the long-oppressed underdogs of Islamic history, Shia terrorist groups tend to be more patient in strategy than Sunni terrorist groups.

On the flip side, contemporary Sunni terrorist groups tend to take banner under Salafi-Jihadist ideology. Salafism presumes a natural supremacy of Sunni Islam over all ideologies and a more urgent desire for global conquest. Relevant here are a multitude of Sunni scholars from the 13th century Ibn Taymiyyah, to the more recent Sayyid Qutb, in influencing al Qaeda and Daesh toward ideological intransigence. It’s a major reason why these groups regard Shia Islam as a mystic sect that stands as an affront to God.

Deep and overt hatred for Shia Muslims is imbued in most Daesh commentaries. But in another distinction, Shia sectarianism against Sunnis tends to flow less from aged theology and much more from Iran’s Khomeini-sectarian ideology. Iran’s, after all, is an ideology with political imperialism at its core. And Iran skillfully veils its imperialism under its appropriation of Shia ideology. It is notable that Iranian-led Shia groups tend to be most responsible for atrocities against Sunni Muslims.

Regardless, these distinctions matter deeply to the United States in that we need different strategies to deal with different terrorist groups. With the Lebanese Hezbollah for example, we need to be able to have tea (of the non-polonium kind) one moment and employ less pleasant options at the next. With Daesh we need to apply attritional warfare against its senior and mid-ranks. With Iran and Saudi Arabia we need to empower political moderates and restrain revolutionary extremists. Most of all we need an open mind. Yet, every time Trump uses his catch phrase, he closes Muslim minds. Even if he doesn’t intend this, it is his effect.

Anti-Americanism is a casual impulse of many populist opinion makers (whether imams or editors or TV hosts) in most Muslim-majority nations. Correspondingly, while Trump might believe he is segregating (radical) terrorists from other Muslims, his three-word rallying call is easily translated into anti-American effect. It lets those who already don’t like us tell others who might like us that we hold them only in disdain. Think “tear down this wall!” rendered “get lost losers!” It’s a great loss because American conservatives have much in common with Muslims.

Ultimately, my real gripe with Trump’s phrase is its substitution of a stump slogan for serious strategy. Just as President Obama wrongly neglected the varied Islamic roots of different Islamist terrorist organizations (and thus discounted the importance of Muslim reformation efforts), Trump assumes simplicity where none exists. In doing so, a president who prides himself on solutions is wandering in the wilderness of stupidity.

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15 HOPEFULLY INSPIRING QUOTES

I cannot really bring myself to do another Trump related blog, at least not today. So here are 15 hopefully inspiring quotes from the likes of Chris Rock, Stewart Lee, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, and 5 from arguably one of our greatest living philosophers Taylor Swift.  I am as yet unsure as to exactly what these quotes will inspire you to do but, as always, enjoy!

Taylor

Once you realize all the random events in your life are God you will live a much easier life. We spend all our time trying to control all these things that happen to us, it’s bullshit. The plane you’re flying goes down? Out of your control. God gives you cancer? I got no control over that. Did God give me cancer? You bet your ass God gave me cancer. You know, do you think God would have given me cancer if I’d asked for it? Uh, I don’t think so ’cause I begged him to take it away and guess what? No control over that, either. – from the movie Flight (2012)

Don’t worry. You may think you’ll never get over it. But you also thought it would last forever. – Taylor Swift

Every accident, properly viewed, is an opportunity. – from the movie Bridge Of Spies (2015)

Giving up doesn’t always mean you’re weak, sometimes you’re just strong enough to let go. – Taylor Swift

I was on tour and I was in Sheffield and I was walking along the main street in Sheffield, Fargate, and I saw two guys holding up big cardboard placards and one of them said, “Would you like to download thousands of films now from Sky?” And the other one said, “Would you like to learn the truth about Islam?” And I thought, “Oh, decisions, decisions.” – Stewart Lee

If you haven’t contemplated murder, you ain’t been in love. If you haven’t seriously thought about killing a motherf***er, you ain’t been in love. If you haven’t had a can of rat poison in your hand and looked at it for 45 minutes straight, you ain’t been in love. If you haven’t bought a shovel and a bag and a rug to roll their ass up in, you ain’t been in love. If you haven’t practiced your alibi in front of the mirror, you ain’t been in love. And the only thing that’s stopped you from killing this motherfucker was a episode of CSI: ‘Oh man, they thorough. I better make up. They might catch my ass.’ – Chris Rock

It isn’t history that makes heroes, it is heroes that make history. – Taylor Swift

The great genius of our religion, and one of the great truths of our Prophet, is that he came as a mercy to everyone. And this is why he created multi–ethnic multi–cultural societies. He had all types of people: he had Persians, he had Romans, he had Africans, he had Arabs. He had all the different Arab tribes and he brought them into a fraternity of rahma (mercy). And he had Jews and Christians and he honored them and treated them. When the Christians of Najran came he honoured them in his mosque, he spoke to them kindly. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

The more awareness of Allah you have, the stiller you become, the stiller your soul becomes. You don’t have the agitation, the disquietude that happens with people that are distant from Allah. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

There are two ways you can go with pain: You can let it destroy you or you can use it as fuel to drive you. – Taylor Swift

We [Muslims] say that what is out there is inside, that man is a microcosm. Imam Ali said that you think that you’re an insignificant thing and yet in you is the entire universe, that we are the microcosm, and one of the things that I see that we’re losing on the planet, we’re not losing cockroaches, we’re not losing rats, they’re thriving. But we’re losing eagles, we’re losing lions and tigers and leopards, we’re losing these qualities in our self that are majestic and beautiful, and what’s remaining is the foulness and the filth…if people want to clean up the environment they have to clean up themselves because the environment is a reflection of what’s inside of us. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, from A Conversation With Miroslav Volf And Hamza Yusuf

What I’ve learned is not to change who you are, because eventually you’re going to run out of new things to become. – Taylor Swift

Chris Rock

When I hear people talk about juggling, or the sacrifices they make for their children, I look at them like they’re crazy, because ‘sacrifice’ infers that there was something better to do than being with your children. And I’ve never been with my kids and gone, ‘Man, I wish I was on my stage right now.’ I’ve never been with my kids and gone, ‘Man, it’d be so great if I was on a movie set right now.’ But I’ve been doing a movie and wished that I was with my kids, I’ve been on tour and wished that I was with my kids. Being with my kids is the best, most fun thing, it’s a privilege. It’s not something I call a sacrifice. – Chris Rock

You should try to align your character with the character of the Prophet, so you follow his actual sunnah. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

You wouldn’t throw away a diamond to pick up a rock, so in the same way don’t throw away the akhirah by chasing the dunya. – Anon

ADVICE FROM AN EXTREMELY BRITISH MUSLIM

Waz

The always interesting British TV station Channel 4 has recently started a 3-part documentary called Extremely British Muslims. I will let you finish rolling your collective eyes at the thought of yet another documentary trying to understand what us Muslims in the west are really all about, but this one is interesting to say the least.

Forget the non-controversy about Channel 4 using on-screen subtitles when people with strong Birmingham accents were talking. Forget also the first episode that focused on some rather strange and awkward opinions on matrimonial matters. Instead focus on the second episode which concentrated on young Muslim men growing up in Birmingham.

It was this episode that made the incisive point that our fathers came to this country and tried to integrate as much as possible, despite the high level of resistance shown by many locals, whereas their children (first born generation Muslims like myself) on the whole are trying to separate, despite the high level of encouragement and desire from many locals who want us to integrate (although Trump and the rise of the far right may see this trend well and truly bucked). The episode also had some very interesting quotes from Waz, someone who is now practicing his faith but most definitely was not in the past.

You will also find below quotes from and links to 3 articles that are well worth reading. As always, enjoy!


The best quotes from episode 2 of Extremely British Muslims

Waz on the role of mosques…

Narrator: Do you think the mosques are doing enough to get through to young Muslim men?
Waz: You’ve got to think, what is a mosque? It’s not a school, it’s not something that’s got funds, that’s got staff, that’s got people sitting there waiting to do something, and it’s their job to do something. It doesn’t work like that. If everybody is sitting around waiting for somebody else to do it, when we’re talking about “the mosque, the mosque,” we are the mosque, you know, we are part of the mosque. We are our local mosque. It represents us and we should represent it. So if the kids are being let down, in terms of what they can and can’t do at a mosque, that’s our shortcoming. – from the Channel 4 program Extremely British Muslims, Episode 2, Mar 2017

Waz on the link between stereotyping and segregation…

If you keep telling them that they are a certain thing and you get that stereotype around you, you know these kids yeah, they start to believe it. If you make these kids feel victimised then you’re going to make them feel different. And if they feel different then they’re going to separate themselves from everybody else. And I know we’ve got to do more too. We can’t just withdraw. We’ve got to work harder to mix and my community needs to be more outward looking. If you call segregation, what’s going to happen is we’re not going to talk to each other, and if we won’t talk to each other and we don’t know each other, we’re not going to understand each other. It’s just going to make us grow even further apart. And we’re going to start to dislike each other. Forget getting on, we’re going to start dislike each other. – from the Channel 4 program Extremely British Muslims, Episode 2, Mar 2017

Waz on seeing the light…

For me it was like, it happened literally overnight, where I was in an apartment and you could, like, see a lot of Birmingham. And I remember that night, like, just breaking down into tears and thinking about my whole life. And I just wished that I could go back to all the people that I knew that weren’t here no more or that ended up in jail, and say to them that “You know what? It’s really not worth it.” So I thought where am I going to find happiness? And I just felt it in me, I just felt like it was right, like I need to turn back to Allah, I need to turn back to God. That’s the only way that I am going to be happy inside. – Waz, former bad boy, now practicing Muslim, from the Channel 4 program Extremely British Muslims, Episode 2, Mar 2017

Waz on the biggest gang in the world…

Narrator: Who, through your eyes, are the sort of people that might join ISIS?
Waz: You’ve got people that are sort of like ex-bad boys, that still have that gang mentality. You know what I’m saying? And if you want to be in a gang, what’s the biggest gang in the world right now? It’s ISIS. ISIS is the biggest, most baddest gang in the world right now. They think they can get an AK and get forgiven by God at the same time. And a lot of these guys, I’ll be honest with you, it’s because they don’t have friends or, you know, they must have a messed up childhood or something like that and they’re thinking “You know, finally I can be part of something. I can be part of something powerful. And I can be part of this gang, and yeah, brotherhood! And yeah, we’re together and nobody can mess with us. Yeah, and I’m going to go to Syria and Iraq.” And they’re just trying to get a sense of purpose in life. – from the Channel 4 program Extremely British Muslims, Episode 2, Mar 2017


Mark Steel on how Islamophobia can be rather silly…

The temptation is to assume he can’t keep getting away with this, as he’s not playing by the rules. But he’s rewritten the rules. And politicians everywhere will want to copy him. – Mark Steel, 09 Mar 2017, from the article America Finally Has A Leader Who Doesn’t Rely On ‘Evidence’ To Back Up His ‘Claims’ –– How Refreshing


The way us Muslims pray daily is actually good for the joints…

The repetitive physical movements of Muslim prayer rituals can reduce chances of lower back pain if performed properly, according to new research. The study found that not only does quiet prayer eliminate physical anxiety, but that proper knee and back angles can be an effective clinical treatment…The kneeling posture, known as sujud, apparently increases the elasticity of joints…“Prayer can eliminate physical stress and anxiety, while there is also research that indicates prayer rituals can be considered an effective clinical treatment of neuro-musculoskeletal dysfunction.” – Peter Walker, 09 Mar 2017, from the article Islamic Prayer Ritual Reduces Back Pain And Increases Joint Elasticity, Study Finds


What Islam could teach Trump about democracy and freedom…

Decosimo

Trump and his administration could learn a thing or two about American values such as freedom and equality from the religion and people they so hate.
In Islam’s founding story, after Muhammad’s death, it was unclear who would lead the nascent Muslim community. Typically, succession disputes make for great drama. This one, however, was more C-SPAN than “Game of Thrones.” Rather than intrigue or bloodshed, the believers pursued democracy. Only by the people’s consent, they reckoned, could a ruler justly be named and a community freely governed. They chose Abu Bakr, one of Muhammad’s companions. His inauguration speech, according to one of Muhammad’s earliest biographers Ibn Ishaq, was brief (though we’re not sure how big the crowd was). It went something like this: “I’m no better than any of you. Only obey me if I do right. Otherwise, resist me. Loyalty means speaking truth. Flattery is treason. No human, but God alone is your lord.”
Abu Bakr sought to guard the people against domination by making himself accountable to them. The people obliged, securing their liberty. They could call him out at any time, and he had to listen. He even had to ask their permission for new clothes. His successor Umar carried the legacy forward. Publicly rebuked by a woman for overstepping the law, Umar responded: “That woman is right, and I am wrong! It seems that all people have deeper wisdom and insight than me.”
This spirit of accountability and liberty would become enshrined as a religious duty in Islam, though as with any tradition, these values are not always upheld. Nonetheless, every Muslim has the obligation to command right and forbid wrong, correcting and resisting any who betray justice, rulers included. That Abu Bakr and Umar are paradigms of good Islamic rule for well over 1 billion Sunni Muslims tells us something about this tradition’s love for freedom. – David Decosimo, 08 Mar 2017, from the article What Islam Could Teach Donald Trump About Democracy And Freedom

For Islam and the American founders alike, freedom is about protection from arbitrary power and rule by law, not the caprices of men. Theirs is a vision where citizens stand not in slavish deference to masters but on equal terms with all. This vision animates our whole system of governance…This vision is under threat in a way it rarely has been in our history. It is not under threat by Islam, but by Donald Trump and his administration. – David Decosimo, 08 Mar 2017, from the article What Islam Could Teach Donald Trump About Democracy And Freedom

Trump wants to return America to its former greatness. But when it comes to freedom, Ghazali and Abu Bakr have far more in common with Madison and Lincoln than with terrorists and tyrants who claim Islam’s mantle. For that matter, they have far more in common with this country’s great lovers of liberty than does the current president. So, instead of banning Muslims, Trump should listen to them: He might learn something about liberty and equality, two values he seems not to have learned to love from our own nation’s history or the Constitution he swore to uphold. – David Decosimo, 08 Mar 2017, from the article What Islam Could Teach Donald Trump About Democracy And Freedom

VIDEOS BY RIZ AHMED, RUSSELL BRAND, AND MO AMER

riz-ahmed-speech

Are you distracted and confused by Trump and his tweets, Obama and his wire traps, Jeff and his sessions with the Russians? Well, why not distract yourself from all of these distractions with the following three video clip distractions!

We start on a somewhat serious note. British Muslim actor Riz Ahmed, now a very well know Hollywood star, delivers Channel 4’s annual speech about diversity at the House of Commons. He highlights the complex issue of representation, especially cultural representation, rather than the usual narrative of diversity.

We then move on to Russell Brand speaking about Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay gave an interview on British morning TV recently where Piers Morgan questioned and questioned her about her interest in Islam. Brand uses his satirical skills to break down the interview for what it really is (an Islamophobe desperately trying to get an angry reaction from an Islamophile).

We end on a somewhat lighter note with the American Muslim stand up comedian Mo Amer and his recent brilliant appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

As always, enjoy!


Riz Ahmed ‘representing’ at the House of Commons…


Russell Brand on whether or not Lindsay Lohan should allowed to be a Muslim…

Everything she is saying is that she’s feeling a sense of connection, that she’s praying, that she’s feeling a connection to other people, she’s feeling a connection to a higher sense in itself, a connection to a higher world. That is what Islam is about. That is it. The secondary narrative that Islam is a fuel for violence, that’s being used by people that are in power, and even at the level of this sort of quite trite daytime TV thing, they are pushing that narrative. Now I don’t believe exclusively in conspiracy theories, but here we are just watching something that is innocuous and harmless as Good Morning Britain at 8.22 in the morning and they’re pushing a powerful agenda…Well done Lindsay Lohan for looking at the world in a different way, in developing and evolving yourself and communicating in a way that is evidently challenging for some people. Good luck on your journey. – Russell Brand, speaking about Lindsay Lohan’s interview on Good Morning Britain, Feb 2017


Mo Amer does a brilliant set on the Late Show…