Orbital View: Seeing Spots

The struggle against jihadist terrorism isn’t the same as the struggle against communism—and it’s dangerous to conflate them.

The two leading Republican presidential candidates both suggest that America has a problem with Islam. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz sometimes frame the problem that they have diagnosed as one having to do with “radical Islam,” rather than simply “Islam,” though Cruz has called for increased police patrols of “Muslim neighborhoods,” not of “radical Muslim neighborhoods.”

Donald Trump, on this subject, as on others, is given to descriptive imprecision, and to a bluntness that can be terrifying. In a semi-forgotten 2011 interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, a friendly interlocutor asked Trump about a statement he had made about Islam on Fox. Trump said, in response, “Bill O’Reilly asked me if there is a Muslim problem. And I said, absolutely, yes.” Trump went on to say, “Many, many, most Muslims are wonderful people, but is there a Muslim problem? Look what’s happening.” He added, in reference to the Koran, “A lot of people say it teaches love … but there’s something there that teaches some very negative vibe.” Trump’s commentary on Islam since that interview has not gained depth or nuance.