Weak and unfair, but the first rule of American politics post-Trump is “never apologize.” Especially to someone detested by your own fans.
Mrs. Clinton said in Saturday’s Democratic debate that some of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric was appearing in Islamic State recruitment videos—a claim her campaign couldn’t later support.
“He is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter,” she said. “They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”…
When asked if Mrs. Clinton would apologize, Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said, “Hell no. Hillary Clinton will not be apologizing to Donald Trump for correctly pointing out how his hateful rhetoric only helps ISIS recruit more terrorists.”
Notice how the goalposts moved. Fallon claims Trump’s criticism of Muslims is helping ISIS to recruit, which is speculative. Maybe some Muslims angry at Trump or alienated by the idea of a travel ban are taking a second look at ISIS after what he said, although if it’s true that erstwhile “moderates” can be tipped into jihad by something as ephemeral as that, from which leaders of both parties distanced themselves, Islam has a bigger violence problem than I thought. Hillary’s claim at the debate wasn’t speculative, though. She said ISIS is already using Trump in its propaganda, of which there’s no evidence at all. What can I say? Her track record involving inflammatory videos and jihadi incitement is … not good.
Ed and Jazz have already chimed in on Hillary’s lame charge but let me add two things. One: How far should this rule extend against saying things that jihadis might exploit? Trump shouldn’t have proposed his ban, the theory goes, because ISIS will use it as proof that America hates Muslims. In that case, should Obama have held off on stating his support for gay marriage? I’m no expert but I’d guess most Muslims would be more receptive to propaganda that the infidels are perverting Allah’s moral order by letting men marry men and women marry women than that some random politician who isn’t the president wants to keep Muslims out (temporarily). In fact, doesn’t ISIS agree that Muslims shouldn’t visit the filthy Dar al-Kufr known as America (except for purposes of jihad)? They’re trying to build a caliphate; the only proper place for Muslims, according to the caliph, is the caliphate itself, I would think. It’s a neat trick to try to build resentment at the U.S. for keeping people out when ISIS presumably is trying to keep them in. But to repeat the underlying point: If we’re going to let our policy choices be influenced by jihadi reaction, how do we justify legalized gay marriage?
Two: Explain to me why ISIS would see Trump’s Muslim ban idea as some irresistible propaganda goldmine when they have endless other more seductive grievances, real and imaginary, that they can exploit. If you were suddenly tasked with making an incitement video for ISIS, where would “Trump calls for ban” fall on your depth chart of things that need to go in there? If it were me, I’d start with images of civilians killed in Syria by U.S. airstrikes ordered by Obama. I’d have footage of dead Iraqis from the Iraq war. I’d throw some stuff in there about “Palestinian genocide” and U.S. military aid to the evil Jews in Tel Aviv. For added sectarian flavor, I’d rehash how the U.S. helped the Shiites wrest Iraq from the Sunnis and how they’re now conspiring with the Iranians on nuclear weapons and protecting Assad from ISIS’s glorious jihad. I’d add some Sodom and Gomorrah material about sexual promiscuity among western men and women, gay marriage, and so forth. And then I’d get really crazy with the cheez whiz with — ta da — a bunch of sh*t that’s not remotely true at all. Why, for instance, if you were going to showcase American hostility to Muslims, would you zero in on something as prosaic as Trump wanting a travel ban on visitors? Why not claim that Obama, a far better known figure, has ordered the arrest and execution of thousands of American Muslims and is dropping poisonous gas on thousands more Muslims in Syria? How many would-be jihadis watching that video are going to fact-check it, and how many would believe the facts if they were laid right in front of them? There’s a distinct odor of unimaginative bourgeois left-media consensus around the freakout over Trump as a supposed recruiting tool for ISIS, as if ISIS is some partisan oppo research outfit that can’t ethically invent things whole cloth but will twist an actual fact to their advantage — and look, Trump handed them an actual fact! The actual thought process here, I think, goes something like this: Cartoonish right-wing populism is the worst thing they can imagine in their own personal Overton window of American politics, therefore any cartoonish right-wing populist proposal must necessarily be enabling ISIS, the world’s worst, most dangerous group of people. It may not actually be true, and it might make no sense when you think about it for five minutes, but this is Larger Truth material if ever there was any.
Here’s Hillary flunky John Podesta insisting that Trump “has become a very important recruitment tool for ISIS.” He has?