On Wednesday morning, Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway touted her candidate’s plan to “defeat” a major world religion with 1.6 billion followers.
Conway made the comments on MSNBC, as part of a point to complain about how the media covers Trump.
“He’ll talk for 45 minutes, and nobody can tell you what the theme was, because nobody wants to cover the theme. They cover one tweet, or they cover one comment,” she said. “He’s giving plans. He gave a… five point plan to defeat Islam.”
Conway may have been trying to say “radical Islam,” but the comments are still frightening coming from the head of a campaign that has repeatedly demonized Islam and Muslims.
Trump has made banning Muslims from the county a central focus of his campaign — which at one point included U.S. citizens living abroad. He has also called for killing Muslims with bullets dipped in pig blood to combat terrorism, registering all Muslims in a federal database, and putting all mosques in the country under surveillance. He has repeatedly said that Muslims know of attacks before they happen and are failing to report them, thus allowing them to take place. During a Republican debate in March, he said that “Islam hates us,” and after being asked whether he meant the world’s entire Muslim population, he said, “I mean a lot of them.”
Conway’s comments also point to the dangers of blaming attacks committed by Muslims on “radical Islam.” As ThinkProgress’ Jack Jenkins has noted, referring to radical Islam to explain such attacks does nothing to help stop them from taking place:
This argument has been dismissed by security experts for some time, many of whom say that such terms only make fighting terrorism harder. Or, as Michael German, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and a former undercover FBI agent, said when asked about the term during a congressional hearing in June, that kind of language “puts us on a path to perpetual war.”
“[Such language] only serves to stoke public fear, xenophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry,” he said.
This election has seen an unprecedented spike in Islamophobic attacks, and experts on hate groups have specifically pointed to Trump’s candidacy as a reason for increased recruitment. ThinkProgress has found at least 110 Islamophobic incidents — including harassment, vandalism, and violent attacks — since last November. Earlier this year, there was a report of a woman in Washington, D.C. who mentioned her support for Trump before verbally and physically assaulting a Muslim woman.
UPDATE: Conway has clarified in an email to The Daily Beast that she meant to say Trump has a “5-point plan to defeat radical Islamic terrorism” and blamed the error on “sleep deprivation.” The slip of the tongue still highlights the dangers of saying “radical Islamic terrorism,” namely that one begins to associate Islam in general, and Muslims, with terrorism.