Late night, infomercial pitchman and potential wall builder Donald Trump had two major media appearances on Wednesday night. The second was a town hall-style interview with Fox News anchor Sean Hannity, during which the Republican front-runner said and did little that was different from his usual rigmarole. The first, however, was a more intimate sit-down with CNN personality Anderson Cooper, who brought up the candidate’s volatile rhetoric towards American Muslims, Muslim immigrants from Syria and other war-torn countries, and the Islamic faith in general.
Trump didn’t disappoint, especially when Cooper asked him whether or not he thought Islam as a whole was “at war with the West.”
“I think Islam hates us. There’s something there… There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There’s an unbelievable hatred of us.”
When Cooper interrupted Trump to clarify whether the hatred was “in Islam itself” or in a particular faction, the New York real estate mogul tasked the reporter (and his fellows, by extension) with figuring it out. “You’re going to have to figure that out,” he said, adding: “You’ll get another Pulitzer, right?” (Fun fact: Cooper has garnered many journalistic distinctions, including several Emmy Awards, GLAAD Media Awards and a Peabody. He has not, however, ever won a Pulitzer. Anyways, sorry for interrupting. Please continue, Mr. Trump.)
Trump kept pushing his Islam-hates-us talking points by suggesting that the country must become more “vigilant” and “careful.” To that end, he indirectly repeated his call to ban all Muslim immigrants by arguing that we should deny entry to anyone with “this hatred of the United States, and of people who are not Muslim.”
Despite the candidate’s insistence, Cooper pushed him further by inquiring for further details. Were these people who supposedly hated the U.S. all Muslim? And if so, were they radical Muslims or the entirety of the world religion? Trump dodged the question again, this time emphasizing how difficult it was to pick apart the finer points of identifying followers of the Quran.
“It’s radical, but it’s very hard to define,” the White House hopeful explained. “It’s very hard to separate, because you don’t know who’s who.”
Right, because using the inherent difficulty of parsing a diverse group of people into its subgroups as an excuse not to do so has always worked out in the end. Especially when potential major decisions that will affect these people (and more) are proposed in lieu of such understanding.