Horowitz: Trump Once Again Sends Wrong Message to American Muslim Community

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


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Rob Horowitz

Breaking a nearly 20 year annual tradition, President Trump failed to host an iftar dinner, marking the end of Ramadan. While he did release a perfectly fine statement, given Trump’s pattern of anti-Muslim rhetoric and policy proposals as a candidate and the perceptions of his proposed travel restrictions as President as a backdoor way to institute at least a partial Muslim Ban, forgoing this dinner sends the wrong message once again to our fellow Muslim Americans and to the more than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. 

Initiated by President Clinton, these dinners were hosted annually by Presidents Bush and Obama as well. Attendees included prominent members of the American Muslim community, diplomats from Muslim nations and members of Congress, among others.

This was an opportunity for President Trump to reach out to the American Muslim community and begin to repair the damage he has done by stating and restating flat out falsehoods such as tha he watched on television as thousands of Muslims in nearby Jersey City celebrated on 9/11—something that even active Trump supporters such as Governor Christie and Mayor Giuliani, two people in a position to know, said never happened.

Hosting the dinner would have not only been the decent and inclusive thing to do, finally sending a message that the President views Muslims as an integral part of the American fabric and not as other and alien; it was also important to combating terrorism on the home-front.  One of the main reasons we have experienced less terrorism here than in Western Europe is because American Muslims are well integrated into the broader American community, serving in the military, enhancing our nation through many positive contributions and individually realizing the American Dream of upward mobility for their children. They are our first line of defense against terrorism, often actively cooperating with police to prevent violent actions before they occur. Continuing to alienate them as Trump is doing is risky and makes us all less safe.

Right after 9/11, during much more difficult circumstances than President Trump has faced, President Bush recognized the importance of reassuring the American Muslim community and of setting a leadership example for the rest of the nation about fundamental American values. While the nation was still reeling from the loss of nearly 3,000 lives and the feeling that each new day could bring another terrorist attack, Bush made a special visit to the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. to make it clear that our fight was not with Islam itself nor was it with Muslim-Americans who were as patriotic and appalled by the senseless carnage as the rest of us.

President Bush exclaimed “these acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it's important for my fellow Americans to understand that. The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war.”

And Bush spoke out strongly about the importance of not lashing out against our fellow Muslim citizens and treating them with the respect they deserve: “America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country.  Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads.  And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect. Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes. Moms who wear cover must be not intimidated in America. That's not the America I know. That's not the America I value."

Instead of continuing in this honorable American tradition, President Trump chose once again to send a signal to his alt-right supporters. For those of us who held out some hope that his speech to leaders of 55 Muslim countries during his trip to the Middle East was the beginning of a new tone, his decision to forego the Ramadan dinner says we were mistaken and it is the same old politics of division. If he can’t even do the easy things like host a dinner, it is difficult to envision him taking the harder steps of affirmative outreach and reconciliation. Next year, I hope former Presidents Bush, Obama and Clinton step into the void and host a bi-partisan dinner marking the occasion.

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island


Related Slideshow: RI Democrats React to Trump Withdrawing from Paris Climate Agreement

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Gina Raimondo

RI Governor

I am deeply disappointed that the President has decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize that the Paris Agreement is about so much more than climate change. It’s about opportunity, stewardship and America’s standing as a global leader. 

President Trump’s action will not deter Rhode Island from taking necessary steps to address climate change. Our action at the state level will create new jobs and attract new investment in the green economy. 

We’ve set a goal to secure 1,000 MW of clean energy resources and double the number of clean energy jobs by 2020. Ocean State families and businesses are on the front lines fighting climate change. I will continue toward with the General Assembly and partners in other states to protect our environment and advance clean energy alternatives, while creating new opportunities for our workforce in the process. 

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Jim Langevin 

U.S. Congressman

President Trump’s ill-considered decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement puts the future of our entire planet at risk. The withdrawal represents an abandonment of pledges to protect our environment and risks undermining the entire accord, which includes nearly every country on earth. In addition, the President’s action cedes Unites States leadership and means losing a seat at the table to negotiate global agreements in our country's best interest.

The Obama Administration made significant progress toward slowing the rapidly warming climate by negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions on a global scale. Unwinding these commitments represents another assault by President Trump on the health of the public and the planet. His Administration continues to deny climate change despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that shows this is an ongoing human-caused crisis.

Rhode Island is on the front lines of sea level rise, and our citizens will ultimately pay the price for inaction today. Communities like my hometown of Warwick are particularly vulnerable to the storms and floods that come with climate change. Warming seas have chased our traditional catch out of our fisheries and threaten to decimate our beloved Ocean State coastline. Abandoning the Paris deal, the culmination of a multi-year effort by world leaders, is an abdication of our responsibility to leave the world a better place for our children.”

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Sheldon Whitehouse

U.S. Senator

“Donald Trump and his children said just a few years ago that climate change was ‘irrefutable’ and its consequences ‘catastrophic and irreversible.’ They were right. There is no denying the growing threat of rising seas, warming global temperatures, and melting glaciers and ice sheets. 

But we can still avoid the worst if we quickly reduce carbon emissions. That is why ignoring reality and leaving the Paris Agreement could do down as one of the worst foreign policy blunders in our nation’s history, isolating the U.S. further after Trump’s shockingly bad European trip. 

Trump is betraying the country, in the service of Breitbart fake news, the shameless fossil fuel industry, and the Koch brothers’ climate denial operation. It’s Sad. 

America’s biggest corporations and investors urged the President to stick with international efforts to address the climate threat. They and all of us will now have to proceed with a seriousness of purpose commensurate with the threat, knowing of this President’s grave defects. 

If you haven’t joined an environmental group, join one. If your voice needs to be heard, get active. If you are a big corporation with good climate policies that has shied away from engaging politically, it’s time to engage. And if you’re a university that teaches climate science, it’s time to stand up for your scientists. Whoever you are, help end climate denial and take action.”

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Jack Reed

U.S. Senator

“President Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris climate agreement is a blow to the environment that makes us a less secure nation. Our military, which spends every hour of every day thinking about how to protect Americans says climate change is a problem and a real threat multiplier. Indeed, climate change is an established part of the military’s threat and risk assessments.

The United States should continue to be a leader when it comes to protecting the planet; instead, the President is abdicating this responsibility. President Trump is unwisely putting the United States alongside Syria and Nicaragua in declining to be part of the Paris agreement. 

The American people deserve better.” 

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David Cicilline

U.S. Congressman

The President’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is a terrible mistake. It will diminish American leadership in the world, undermine our ability to create good-paying jobs, and contribute to the further degradation of our environment. 

It is very disappointing that we now know, without question, that the President of the United Sates is a climate change denier. His decision today ignores the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding the serious consequences failing to address climate change. 

The only thing President Trump will accomplish by this decision is to set the United States and world back decades in this fight. I have no doubt that future generations are going to wonder what the hell we were thinking today”


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