Last week, retired Gen. David Petraeus met with Donald Trump amid speculation that he was on the short list to be the next secretary of Defense. But in May, Petraeus published an op-ed in the Washington Post that, while it didn’t mention Trump specifically, was clearly aimed directly at him and his bigoted policies toward Muslims.
For that reason, I have grown increasingly concerned about inflammatory political discourse that has become far too common both at home and abroad against Muslims and Islam, including proposals from various quarters for blanket discrimination against people on the basis of their religion.
Some justify these measures as necessary to keep us safe — dismissing any criticism as “political correctness.” Others play down such divisive rhetoric as the excesses of political campaigns here and in Europe, which will fade away after the elections are over.I fear that neither is true; in fact, the ramifications of such rhetoric could be very harmful — and lasting.
As policy, these concepts are totally counterproductive: Rather than making our country safer, they will compound the already grave terrorist danger to our citizens. As ideas, they are toxic and, indeed, non-biodegradable — a kind of poison that, once released into our body politic, is not easily expunged.
Setting aside moral considerations, those who flirt with hate speech against Muslims should realize they are playing directly into the hands of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. The terrorists’ explicit hope has been to try to provoke a clash of civilizations — telling Muslims that the United States is at war with them and their religion. When Western politicians propose blanket discrimination against Islam, they bolster the terrorists’ propaganda.
At the same time, such statements directly undermine our ability to defeat Islamist extremists by alienating and undermining the allies whose help we most need to win this fight: namely, Muslims.
Trump paid no attention to him then and I doubt he has any intention of naming him to his cabinet now.