With Trump having a serious shot at becoming the next President of the United States, it is important for Americans of Middle Eastern descent to evaluate the impact his theoretical administration would have on their community – just as they should with any serious candidate. And despite the alarmist warnings of those who profess otherwise, Donald Trump is a solid friend of Middle Eastern Americans.
This fact is understood by the American-Mideast Coalition for Trump. As its name implies, the AMCT is a group of Americans descended from Middle Eastern nations who have realized that Donald Trump is in fact the strongest candidate to strengthen the Mideast-American community. Such a conclusion by this particular demographic may seem strange to some, as Trump is commonly known as an anti-Muslim candidate. This popular view of him, however, is flawed.
To begin with, Trump is anti-terrorist and anti-extremist – contrary to the opinions of some bigoted individuals, neither label describes the vast majority of Muslims, let alone the majority of Middle Eastern people and their descendants. His rhetoric and policy suggestions have always been aimed at protecting the United States from those who wish to do it harm — a noble and important goal — not at unfairly targeting people of certain religious affiliations. And where he has mentioned Muslims without specifically qualifying that he meant only the small fraction of that enormous group who are terrorists, such as his discussion of temporarily banning people of the Islamic faith from entering the U.S., he has later clarified that he was speaking in general suggestions and not advocating firm policy.
In a comment to The Hill, Walid Phares, a national security advisor for Trump, states this explicitly. “Right now the ban is just a few sentences in a foreign policy announcement and a tweet, it’s not like he’s written books or published articles or delivered lectures on this. He’ll continue to add context and distinction to his position as he gets new information,” he said. Phares is himself part of the effort of the Trump campaign to reach out to Muslim-American communities and court their vote, something which would not be possible if Trump were in fact anti-Muslim.
Even if his rhetoric on the ban issue does not soften over time — which it almost certainly will — it should be noted that not everyone in the Muslim-American community objects to it. America’s enemy is not Islam, but it is radical Islam, and a temporary moratorium on Muslim entry into the nation would certainly go far in alleviating national security concerns. Speaking to the Straits Times, a Pakistani-American man named Sajid Tarar, concurred: “Whatever is required to ensure safety for American people, I’ll support that,” he said. “Any time something goes wrong here, if there is an incident, we start saying, ‘I hope he is not Muslim.’ We are living under threat. We want to see America strong, we want to see America safe because we are part of the American fabric.”
Trump should also be compared to the alternative, namely the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. And when these two are held side by side from the perspective of addressing Middle East issues, Trump is clearly the superior candidate. First, unlike his opponent, Trump has said he will review the catastrophic “deal” reached with Iran’s fundamentalist regime by U.S. President Barack Obama. Trump has pledged to at least hold the Iranian ayatollahs strictly accountable to the terms of the agreement, which he predicts will cause Iran to be found in violation and result in the treaty’s dismissal.
Trump has also correctly criticized the Obama administration’s foreign policy concerning the Middle East in other ways. He has pointed out Obama’s preoccupation with unnecessary and counterproductive wars in the region, such as costly troop deployments in Afghanistan and gross mismanagement in Iraq that has led to the rise of ISIS. Libya, meanwhile, due largely to Obama’s policies, has turned into a chaotic cesspit that is rife with terrorist encampments. On all of these issues, Clinton is weak, with her political need to support the decisions made by Obama.
Trump is a forward-thinking candidate who is more likely than Clinton to support technological and communications advances in Middle Eastern nations. This is crucial for virtually all countries that suffer under totalitarian regimes, but it is especially so in Iran, where the unbending fundamentalist government of the ayatollahs can best be undermined simply by empowering and uniting the Iranian citizenry — most of whom are moderate Muslims and not in line with the religious extremism of their government.
It is fortunate that Trump is the better candidate for Mideast-Americans, because current conditions in the United States favor him over Clinton and make him more likely to prevail in the general election. The nation today tends towards an isolationist, security-first philosophy, which is far more in line with Trump’s policies than with Clinton’s. Trump values the security of the U.S. above all other concerns — as an American president should — and these priorities are evident in his proposals. This does not solely refer to the already-discussed ban on Muslim immigrants (though as noted, that was a crude suggestion that is likely to be revised over time). Trump also favors protectionist trade policies, an idea much in favor among the American people today.
Though counterintuitive to some who do not fully understand the man, the AMCT supports Donald Trump as the next President of the United States because it recognizes that he is, in fact, the strongest candidate to stand for the rights of real Mideast-Americans. His enemies, as those of that demographic group and of all Americans, is radical terrorism — not the Islamic faith.
Slater Bakhtavar is an attorney, journalist, author and political commentator. He is author of Iran: The Green Movement
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