Donald Trump’s vitriolic anti-Muslim campaign rhetoric was a preview for an unprecedentedly Islamophobic administration. A new analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, The Islamophobic Administration, identifies how the president and his White House staff and advisors have targeted Muslims through both speech and policy, tangibly harming the American Muslim community.
The Trump presidency’s Islamophobia has already manifested itself in at least five forms:
- Anti-Muslim Rhetoric: Trump has repeatedly attacked Muslims and their religion in terms sharply at odds with previous Republican presidents — including by disseminating debunked and damaging falsehoods.
- Islamophobic Staff Members: Anti-Muslim voices once relegated to the fringes of political discourse, including Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, and Sebastian Gorka were elevated to key positions in the White House.
- Muslim Travel Ban: Trump’s travel ban, the implementation of which has been halted by multiple courts, was intended by Trump and his aides to suspend the entry into the U.S. of as many Muslims as possible.
- “Extreme Vetting”: The administration’s goal of making vetting procedures “extreme” for potential visitors and immigrants ignores the reality that the U.S. already has some of the world’s most rigorous and strict vetting policies. New practices such as “ideological screening” of travelers specifically target Muslims, and rely on disproven assumptions about terrorism while being at odds with American values.
- Hate Crimes: The ramping up of Islamophobic rhetoric during the campaign coincided with hate crimes that, according to FBI data, were soaring to the highest level in over a decade. 2015 and 2016 appear to have logged record high numbers of mosque attacks.
The analysis notes that parts of Trump’s agenda, while extreme, cannot be seen as a complete break from the past. In some ways they are an amplification and extension of practices and policies put in place and maintained after 9/11.
“The Trump administration’s relentless targeting of those who practice the Muslim faith — including American citizens — has only accelerated since the conclusion of campaign season and his entry into the White House,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty & National Security Program. “While the policies of the two preceding presidential administrations were frequently harmful to Muslim communities, Trump’s rhetoric and policy innovations leave little doubt that American Muslims have much to fear over the next few years. Defenders of civil liberties, religious freedom, and public safety must remain vigilant.”
Read the full analysis, The Islamophobic Administration.
Read more about the Brennan Center’s work on Liberty & National Security.