Damian Thompson

Is Trump turning Islam into America’s ‘Great Satan’?

Is Trump turning Islam into America's 'Great Satan'?
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President Trump has a 'dark vision' of America under siege from radical Islam, says the New York Times – and that vision is now radically reshaping the policies of the United States. Hence the 'Muslim travel ban', as it's still being called, despite the protestations of the administration that it's nothing of the sort.

Fear of Islam is now thoroughly entrenched in America: there's no doubt about that. It preoccupies Evangelical Christians and the much smaller constituency of white nationalists (some of whom used to admire jihadist Islam for its zero tolerance of Jews and gays before morphing into passionate if unconvincing Zionists).

But, as I ask my guests Rashad Ali and Edward Lucas on this week's Holy Smoke podcast, is President Trump also stoking up fears of Islam as a whole – turning it, in effect, into America's 'Great Satan'? We now know that he did ask Rudy Guiliani for some sort of Muslim ban, and was told that anti-terrorist travel restrictions were the only weapon to hand.

Which prompts a further question: does the Trump White House regard 'radical Islam' as a fount of terror, or Muslims more generally as participants in a clash of civilisations that threatens American culture?

It's a tricky question, because Trump's advisers don't agree on this subject – and nor do the guests on this episode of Holy Smoke. Neither of them approves of the executive order; but where Rashad hears an anti-Muslim dog whistle, Edward is more irritated by the incessant liberal 'harrumphing' that obscures sensible debate. He's rude about some very annoying people. Enjoy.

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