In the wake of protests and escalating violence at 2016 GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s political rallies, the clashes are an outcome of his rhetoric fostering outrage and hostility of his supporters, a researcher said, and combined together, the polarization his campaign has generated plays right into the hands of the so-called Islamic State (also referred to as ISIS).
Amanda Rogers, a post-doctoral fellow and researcher for the Transcultural Conflict and Violence Initiative at Georgia State University in Atlanta, said the Islamic State, or ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), as often referred to by American media, seeks to promote itself as a legitimate state – a legitimate government controlling territory, using coercive force to achieve its aims, and providing utilities, security and services.
And, in promoting itself as a legitimate government, ISIS thoroughly uses a propaganda and messaging machine, including publications and social media.
“For a group like the so-called ‘Islamic State,’ Trump’s bigoted rhetoric, as well as the outrage, fear and hostility of his supporters, proves welcome,” Rogers explained. “Stoking fear of not simply Syrian refugees, but moreover, Muslims as a faith group, is politically expedient for the GOP candidate – as well as ISIS as an organization.”
At a fundamental level, ISIS’ self-proclaimed “statehood” rests on a foundational narrative, Rogers said.
“It is that ‘this is your homeland, where you will be safe, and we are the legitimate nation for Muslims all over the world,’” she explained.
“Inflammatory rhetoric that generalizes Muslims as a domestic fifth column, or advocates separate legal treatment for religious groups, corresponds with the ISIS narrative,” Rogers continued, “as does racism more generally, the latter appearing in ISIS publications as emblematic of inherent American hypocrisy.”
Rogers is the author of the forthcoming book, Inside the Boardroom-Battleground of the “Islamic State”: Nation Branding, Viral Marketing, and the Future of Transnational Conflict, a commentator for Muftah.org, and has appeared in a number of media outlets as an expert on propaganda, messaging, and political aesthetics in the Middle East and North Africa, including the New York Times, BBC, Al-Jazeera International, Al-Jazeera Mubashira, Aslan Media Intersections, Muftah, CTV Canada, and Rolling Stone as well as several public radio stations.
For more information about the Transcultural Conflict and Violence Initiative at Georgia State, visit http://tcv.gsu.edu/.