Donald Trump’s latest comments about Muslims celebrating 9/11 on American soil have the media’s knickers in a twist. As always.
Trump routinely says and tweets unverified or plainly wrong information. But the media’s pathological inability to avoid overreaching to slap at him makes a hero of him for his constituents. Over the weekend, Trump said at a rally, “I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”
The media quickly pounced on Trump. Instead of pointing out that Trump exaggerated those numbers, the media attempted to claim that Trump had lied outright about seeing anyone celebrate in New Jersey, and that this lie sprang from inherent Islamophobia. In the process, the media stepped on yet another rake, with The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler writing, “There were some reports of celebrations overseas, in Muslim countries, but nothing that we can find involving the Arab populations of New Jersey.”
Only one problem: there were reports of celebrations in the United States. From Kessler’s Washington Post:
In Jersey City, within hours of two jetliners’ plowing into the World Trade Center, law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.
So Kessler then adjusted his post to call such reports “unconfirmed.” But those unconfirmed reports also appeared on New York radio as well as in The New York Times, and a few Muslims were “detained” after they were seen “celebrating,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. As Mark Steyn writes:
There are two competing narratives here. If you loathe Trump, the story is: Trump’s suggestion of terrorist sympathizers among American Muslims is outrageous. But, if you’re minded to support Trump, the story is: Obama’s and Hillary’s and Kerry’s assertion that there are no terrorist sympathizers among Muslims is not only ludicrous but mendacious and deeply weird in its relentless insistence. Glenn Kessler’s “fact-check” confirms the latter.
This is typical. Trump often gets the smaller facts wrong but the larger narrative right – but the media, trying desperately to debunk the narrative, attempt to slander Trump’s broader narrative, and thereby step directly on a rake. Glenn Kessler and company desperately say that Islam had nothing to do with celebration of 9/11, and ignore reports saying otherwise, so as to promote the notion that Trump’s opposition to the entry of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees to the United States represents logicless xenophobia.
That isn’t true. You may believe – quite correctly – that Trump overstates everything. He does. That doesn’t mean his underlying logic is wrong. And attempts to use the facts he cites to blow up the logic he poorly represents are bound to fail – and to make Trump stronger. That’s because some American Muslims did celebrate 9/11, along with Barack Obama’s personal pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Why would the American people trust those who defended Obama and his pastor to defend us from the radical Muslims they’re also so focused on defining out of existence?