When Jake Tapper asked Trump if, when he told Anderson Cooper that “Islam hates us,” he meant all 1.6 billion Muslims on the planet, Trump doubled down. “I mean a lot of them. I mean a lot of them,” he said. “There’s something going on, that maybe you don’t know about ... and I will stick with exactly what I said.”
Rubio fired back, marking the start of the most contentious debate about Islam we’ve seen in a Republican debate so far. But Trump held his ground, saying, “I don’t want to be so politically correct, I like to solve problems. Large portions of a group of people, Islam,” hate America and chant “Death to America” in mosques. “There is tremendous hatred.”
Trump’s stance on Islam is ironic on multiple levels. Trump’s own hate-mongering is making further violence more likely, not less likely, and is being spun by terrorist organizations as proof that the West hates Islam. And, while Trump read from the Harris/Hitchens playbook on deflecting charges of Islamophobia by calling out the oppression of women in Islamic countries, Trump’s campaign has been accused of discriminating against women and he has repeatedly made misogynistic comments for decades. Finally, Trump’s own methods for stopping terrorism—his repeated call for “worse than waterboarding” being the most notable—erase the distinction between the United States and terrorist organizations. Trump thinks the way to fight monsters is to become a monster, the way to defeat ISIS is to become ISIS.