Donald Trump Knows Nothing About Muslims

By Joseph Richard Preville | (Informed Comment) | – –


I am an American professor living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Like millions of people around the world, I watched both presidential conventions with great interest. Although I am a Democrat, I try to keep an open mind and listen to the other side with fairness and objectivity. However, in this election, I am moved by the words of the late Elie Wiesel in his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize speech: “We must take sides.”

For me, Donald Trump is a real threat to religious harmony and peace in the world. When Donald Trump first proposed that Muslims be banned from the United States, I was horrified. He couldn’t be serious, I thought. Not only was his proposal obviously unconstitutional, it was ignorant of the long history of Muslims in the United States. Muslims are part of the unfolding story that is America. Trump cannot erase them from American history. Nor can he delete the historical fact that the first country to recognize the United States was the Sultanate of Morocco in 1777 under Sultan Mohammed Ben Abdellah al-Khatib.

Trump has made Islamophobia acceptable in the United States. His fear of Muslims is a hysterical reaction to terrorism, which Muslims reject and Islam forbids. I understand this because I live and work in an Islamic society. Donald Trump knows nothing about Islam and Muslims and his hateful rhetoric reflects his ignorance. Has he ever read Ibn Khaldun or Naguib Mahfouz? The Muslim world is rich in history, diversity and culture. For the past dozen years, I have experienced the vast Muslim world up close through work and travel, and I can honestly say that Donald Trump’s views on Muslims bear no resemblance to reality.

I was so pleased to hear Khizr Khan challenge Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention. It was a powerful moment for Americans to witness. Islamophobia and bigotry must be challenged, and the bigger the audience, the better. Khizir Khan needn’t have asked Trump if he had read the Constitution because we all know the answer.

What bothers me about Trump is how he has tarnished America’s reputation all over the world. His bigoted statements and threats to Muslims do not represent America or its values. He is a frightening outsider – a bully with a Twitter account. On my recent trip to Morocco, everyone I met wanted to talk about Donald Trump. How could Americans support his divisive campaign, they wondered? I wish I had an answer for them. I am mystified at his popularity, but confident he will be defeated in November.

The Trump moment in America will pass. History is the best teacher. There have been many demagogues in American history, who have railed against Catholics, Jews, Germans, Italians, Irish and other groups. These demagogues became reviled footnotes in the history of the United States. Prejudice is not celebrated in America, and it surely is not what our country is about. This is the message I give my Muslim friends.

-Joseph Richard Preville is Assistant Professor of English at Alfaisal University/Prince Sultan College of Business in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Tikkun, The Jerusalem Post, Muscat Daily, Saudi Gazette, Informed Comment and World Religion News.

13 Responses

  1. His bigoted statements and threats to Muslims do not represent America or its values. They certainly appear to represent a fair number of Americans and their values. After all, who has made him the Republican candidate, it’s not as if there was no one else. That’s where the tarnish comes from.

  2. “His bigoted statements and threats to Muslims do not represent America or its values.” I agree with most of your article, but must comment on the quoted statement above. That might be your “values” but it certainly is not for most of Americans. Trump is not a politically correct individual. He is just saying what a majority of Americans think and believe, but will not say in public. That is just the way it is here. For instance this is what Maina Kiai (U.N. special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association) had to say recently about racism in the US; “The United States “is an economic powerhouse, a military superpower, a global engine of technological development, and one of the oldest democracies in the world. It is also an extremely diverse nation, a nation of indigenous peoples, slaves and immigrants. … The experiences with various forms of diversity and complexity have not always been smooth. The country was founded on land stolen from its indigenous Native Americans; its early economic strength was built on race-based slavery against people of African descent; and successive waves of immigrants have faced discrimination, harassment or worse.” America is a racist country. That is just a fact. Clinton is much more guilty of being a racist than Trump. Look at what she and her husband did to black people while he was in office. It is a good thing the Kan’s did getting this discussion out in the open, but even with all the media playing it up (and I think they have reached the point of it becoming obvious that they are doing so to try and help Clinton) I don’t think it will make much difference.

    • Trump personally egged on a mob of White supporters in Birmingham, Alabama to beat up a Black protester. What the Hell more proof do you need of how much personal pleasure he takes in racist acts?

      I love how Trump is innocent of all things by virtue of having never held any government office whatsoever. By that standard, Charles Manson would have been a better president for Black people than Clinton, since he never happened to murder any despite being an avowed racist. Same for Dylann Roof, Cliven Bundy, Tom Metzger, Tim McVeigh, or any of the hosts at Fox News. “Oh, they all did less harm to Black folks than Hillary!”

      Furthermore, since all people with Federal experience are mass murderers by the judgment of the anti-Clinton crowd, all of the great defenders of Southern segregation would have been better presidents than those warmongering liberal Democrats because not one of them ever got to sit in the White House and show what they were capable of. George Wallace? Faubus? Thurmond? Maddox? All of them must be less racist and warlike than Hillary Clinton, or for that matter Lyndon Johnson.

      Have I gotten the point across how ridiculous it is to make Trump out to be a better man just because he has not yet proven his obvious and obscene monstrousness in office because he was too contemptuous of public service to run for lesser offices beforehand?

    • Trump tried to travel to Jerusalem last year with an avowed goal to personally storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque in support of, well, anyone who’s not Moslem. He was so provocative that even the grotesque Zionist Netanyahu regime pressured him into staying away.

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      For decades foreign policy nerds have warned that such an incident could be the flash point for a new Middle Eastern war. So would you okay Trump to be Secretary of State and see what he could do with the resources of that office, seeing how far he’s willing to go with nothing more than his own foul mouth?

  3. While I completely agree with the professor on his opinion of the Donald and his poisonous views of Muslims, I find it ironic that his comments originate from one of the most repressive, intolerant, and corrupt regimes in the world. The complete decadence of the royal family and their perversion of the Islamic creed through the manipulation of wahhabism puts the corruption of most other countries to shame.

    Having lived and worked in a number of Islamic countries myself, I never fail to be appalled that the U.S. continues to classify the Saudis as “allies.”

  4. Hard to imagine why Muslims rate higher than the plethora of other things Trump knows nothing about – other than that his ignorance on this particular issue has the potential to cause one specific identity group serious harm while his comprehensive ignorance of all things relevant to the office he seeks has to potential to do remediable harm to all humanity. That is not to say, however, that he is a greater evil than Clinton; a proven warmonger and tool of the MIC & Wall Street and who harbors psychopathy of a magnitude similar to Trump’s. There’s only one sane candidate in this election: Jill Stein.

    • By your standard, Hitler in 1933 was innocent and less of a criminal than, say, Hillary Clinton. He’d never started a war against anybody, nor did he say he would invade Poland or kill six million Jews, nor was he yet a tool of the German MIC or bankers. Yet we keep decrying the Germans of that time for failing to see his obvious “danger” and uniting against him in favor of the Establishment candidates who could actually win as opposed to obscure fruitcakes who think vaccines are a giant conspiracy. Can you explain this discrepancy to me?

  5. Someone well-versed in the oppression, sexism, and beheadings of Saudi Arabia is defending Islam? Odd.

  6. When will Saudi Arabia actually take action against ISIS and them clearly exporting terrorism to the West, instead of just condemning it verbally? Judge a country/religion by its actions, not just its words.

  7. According to th Mayo Cliniic here are the effects on behavior in offspring afflicted with Fetal alcohol syndrome( FAS). Many in the 70 year-old age group suffer from FAS

    link to

    Problems with the brain and central nervous system may include:
    • Poor coordination or balance
    • Intellectual disability, learning disorders and delayed development
    • Poor memory
    • Trouble with attention and with processing information
    • Difficulty with reasoning and problem-solving
    • Difficulty identifying consequences of choices
    • Poor judgment skills
    • Jitteriness or hyperactivity
    • Rapidly changing moods

    Problems in functioning, coping and interacting with others may include:

    • Difficulty in school
    • T•rouble getting along with others
    • Poor social skills
    • Trouble adapting to change or switching from one task to another
    • Problems with behavior and impulse control
    • Poor concept of time
    • Problems staying on task
    • Difficulty planning or working toward a goal

    Tiny hands and weird hair may also be physical symptoms of FAS.

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