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Trump vs. Clinton: The Danger of Blaming Syrian Refugees


(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images; Taylor Le/Pacific Standard)

Donald Trump has repeatedly talked about the need to defeat ISIS. But what if he’s an unlikely cog in the terrorist organization’s schemes?

Over the past year, Trump has made lots of noise with his stance of Syrian refugees. Aside from overstating the inflow of Syrian refugees into the United States in the first place, Trump has repeatedly insinuated that refugees might be part of some sort of “Trojan horse” plot by ISIS to infiltrate American soil. (Last week, one of Trump’s sons made some noise of his own after Trump Jr. sent out a particularly tasteless tweet comparing Syrian refugees to a bowl of fruit-flavored, non-human confectionery.)

There’s a terrifying irony to this sort of fear-mongering: It might be giving ISIS exactly what it wants. Trump’s blustery statements have become prime recruiting fodder for ISIS, a group all too capable of translating American xenophobia into Western opposition as an enrollment tactic. As Jared Kellerwrote for Pacific Standard last year:

The Islamophobic backlash running through the West is all but a recruitment windfall for jihadists everywhere. It’s part of the logic of the Islamic State designed to build a new generation of loyal militants, a push that lends credence to the idea that, while American arch-conservatives flip out about refugees (like Ted Cruz, who called for a moratorium on U.S. refugee programs, or ex-Bush speechwriter David Frum, who tweeted “maybe guard the border before the massacre”), it’s actually the Muslim world that’s under attack from the West — a narrative that has very real ideological roots.

As of June, President Barack Obama has allowed 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. Funiteor Trump, that’s clearly 10,000 too many.