The events of the first few days of the Trump presidency appears to be a new form of ‘madness’ from an inexperienced politician at the helm of the world’s most powerful nation, creating havoc and chaos, reaffirming his support for torture, creating a diplomatic row with his Southern neighbours over plans to force Mexico to pay for the construction of a wall and placing a ‘Muslim ban’ on immigrants and refugees. But far from being a series of chaotic ideas and policies, Khalil Charles, Editor of Muslim Eye argues that there is a discernable ‘Method in the Trump Madness.”.
In imposing a ‘Muslim Ban,’ Donald Trump played to his core supporters and reinforced the strong message that the ex-establishment and opposition groups, which now includes the mainstream media, cannot be trusted and are distorting the truth! Firing the Obama-appointed attorney general, Sally Yates for not following orders will further delight his supporters!
In issuing his Executive Order banning seven mainly Muslim countries from entering the United States, Trump and his spin doctors knew full well that the ban will be perceived as exclusion based on religion. The denial and counter-claim that the temporary restrictions are aimed at ‘Making America Safe Again,’ and weeding out the ‘bad dudes’ – Islamic extremists – was not a defensive response to the criticism, but appears to be designed to further fuel outrage and indignation of those opposed to his policies.
Meanwhile, Trump supporters, who are ‘not uncomfortable’ with the idea that it is a ban on Muslims, point to the ‘Make America Safe’ narrative spun by the White House and are further persuaded not to trust the old establishment figures nor the media who for its ‘reactionary’ misreporting of the immigration and refugee ban and for its encouragement of the protests at the countries airports.
Adding fuel to the fire are the victimized immigrant Muslim communities who feel threatened, the politicians who feel duty-bound to oppose the right-wing tone and policies of the White House and the mainstream or left-lending media further enraged by the feeling that they are being insulted and lied to by a man of low intelligence and who displays narcissistic behaviour associated with ‘mental illness!'
Trump's plea that that one should ‘study the world’ to understand the justification for his ban sent the same but different messages to two completely different polarized audiences. ‘Everyone’ knows that the countries of origin responsible for terrorist attacks on the United States or who have joined in greater numbers the Islamic State group are not included in the list of banned countries, but efforts by journalists to demonstrate this is seen by both sides to support its own arguments.
For the opposition, it is proof that Trump has got it wrong and has targeted the wrong countries leaving questions as to why certain countries were excluded and reinforcing the accusation of a ‘Muslim ban’. As for the Trump camp, the facts are proof that Muslim countries or countries with large Muslim populations support terrorism and further confirms the need for the crackdown and link between Islam, Muslims, and terrorism!
Some social scientists and academics are now catching on to the Trump methodology, especially as it concerns the use of negative stereotypes to define the enemy and strengthen his support. Professor Moustafa Bayoumi, Brooklyn College and author of the book “How Does It Feel To Be a Problem?” says, “It’s clear that Trump uses Islam as a kind of rhetorical prop to feed his populism.” But when asked is Trump afraid of Muslims? He replied, “That’s a good question, and I think it asks for coherence from an incoherent mind.”
Oddly, some academics are arguing that Trump supporters are not going to be persuaded by facts. Scott Atran, an anthropologist who has just come back from interviewing members of Islamic State near Mosul says he deplores the visa ban and many of the other signals coming from the Trump team. However, he says evidence and rational argument are not always effective tools of argument.
Instead, he says the key is to start appealing to the emotions, perhaps by invoking admired figures such as Muhammad Ali, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. “If then I can make some inroads, I’d show that leaders of eight Muslim countries have been women, and then go down the line of some of the great achievements of Muslim civilisation, and then recognise that, certainly, in this time and geopolitical space, there is a very cruel, revolutionary strand of fundamentalist Islam that is a real danger not only to people in the United States but much more so to Muslims around the world.”
Speaking on his daily Infowars.com show, Alex Jones, a staunch Trump supporter, uses cryptic references to the condition of the average anti-Trump supporter, he likened them to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave - prisoners chained in a cave, living in a false reality, “It’s in those concepts that we are going to break the chains, not debating them on the fake facts…or stooping down to the level when we know they are a pack of liars,” he says.
What Trump stratagems like Steve Bannon have realised tough talk on Islam, Muslims or terrorism, is a vote-winner. It stirs defensive instincts and dislike of the other perceived as a threat. The mainstream media has for many years contributed to the demonization of Muslims and Islam have not been forced to defend themselves and check facts to defend the notion of ‘journalistic’ integrity.
It’s the same knee-jerk reaction to criticism that fuels the charge by Trump’s Alex Jones that ‘we know they are a pack of liars’. One analysis from June found that people who felt the word “violent” was a good way to describe Muslims had much more positive views of Trump than of his democratic rival Clinton. “They’re actually expressing what is becoming the popular way of thinking about Islam,” says Dalacoura, of Trump’s circle. That popular way of thinking has in part been the work of the mainstream media who are scrambling to defend themselves against accusations of bias, this time not against Islam or Muslim, but against the man in the White House!