Donald Trump ran a presidential campaign filled with xenophobic — and for purposes of this discussion, Islamophobic — rhetoric, but none of that spirit appeared in his remarks to Saudi Arabian leaders on Sunday. The reported speechwriter of this missive was Stephen Miller, the architect of Trump’s Muslim ban that sparked airport protests due to its banning of seven Muslim-majority countries. And as many noticed, Trump’s ban did not place Saudi Arabia on the hit list, perhaps because of his strong business ties in the country. (Upon touching down in Saudi Arabia, Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal that was largely brokered by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.)
Speaking in Riyadh, Trump aimed to erase all traces of divisiveness and urged Muslim leaders to do their part in eliminating terrorism:
“The nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want … It is a choice between two futures, and it is a choice America cannot make for you. A better future is only possible if your nations the terrorists and drive out the extremists. Drive them out! Of your places of worship, drive them out of your communities, drive them out of your Holy Land, and drive them out of this Earth!”
The speech, in its entirety (which you can watch at the bottom of this post), is a far cry from Trump’s March 2016 sentiment: “I think Islam hates us.” At the time, he railed against a “tremendous” and “unbelievable” hatred while generalizing Islam as a whole. Yet in this speech, he never used the term “radical Islam” but, instead, favored “Islamist extremism.” He also referred to terrorists at the “foot soldiers of evil” who must be erased from existence.
Here, Trump told his audience that “America will not seek to impose our way of life on others” while stressing the common goal of crushing extremism.
“America will not seek to impose our way of life on others,” says President Trump in Riyadh https://t.co/Ec73xMF60e
— CNN (@CNN) May 21, 2017
You can watch the full speech below.