During his very first address to Congress, President Donald Trump vowed to protect the country from “radical Islamic terrorism,” using the term despite the advice of his national security adviser.
Trump has uttered the phrase numerous times during his presidential campaign and once he became president, he did not stop its use — despite the political and international ramifications of the three words.
Former President Barack Obama last year explained why he wouldn’t use the words “Islamic terrorism” and instead used “violent extremism,” which dissociated terrorist activities from religion. However, Trump and many of his cronies have been very forceful about their beliefs that the West is at war with Islam.
The use of the phrase is not just a departure from the Obama’s administration but also from the Bush presidency, which was governing the country at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — an incident that launched the country in its war against terror.
Trump’s previous national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, believed “radical Islamic terrorism” was an appropriate label for violent terrorism. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the newly appointed national security adviser believes the term does more harm than good.
In a closed door meeting last week, McMaster urged the president not to use the words anymore. According the national security adviser, terrorists who say they are acting in accordance to the teachings of Islam are, in fact, “unIslamic” and are not true followers. He also said that use of the words can harm the country’s relations with many of its Muslim allies.
Even though Trump ignored the expert advice, McMaster still hopes to soften his rhetoric in the following days.
In fact, even Trump’s long-standing friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin may be affected if he continues to use the term. According to The New York Times, Putin, with all his faults, at least never linked terrorism to Islam and even refereed to the ISIS as the “so-called Islamic State.”
“I would prefer Islam not be mentioned in vain alongside terrorism,” Putin said at a news conference in December, according to the Times.
Here’s what the rest of the world has to say about Trump’s use of the words:
Obama was faulted for not saying "Radical Islamic Terrorism." trump should be forced to say White Supremacist Terrorism. #JointAddress— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) March 1, 2017