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How the 2016 Presidential Primaries in the United States Aided Terrorists

The GEC is working to counter terrorist and terrorism by engaging Muslim communities in leading efforts to develop and implement counter narratives and alternative narratives. The GEC and participating entities are working to build a respectful and strong long-term relationships between the ant-terrorism governments and Muslim communities. This is essential to engage the next generation of Muslims. As pointed out earlier, there are several steps to the process, starting with engaging people-to-people at the grassroots level and scouting out talented creative change makers who can positively impact their communities through social media. It is also emphasized that the message, the medium, and the messenger are all integral to effective messaging. To accomplish these goals requires positive interaction between anti-terrorism individuals and organizations and the vulnerable populations and regions of the world that could be swayed to support terrorism.

Table 9.2 Counter Narrative and Alternative Narrative Social Media Warfare Tactics

Exposure: Release of discrediting information about individual terrorist leaders or fighters or their organizations

Influence: Convincing citizens and policy makers to oppose terrorism and act against terrorists

Nullify opponents: Debasing the philosophy of terrorists with an alternative or counter narrative

Persuasion of non-aligned entities: Convincing potential terrorists or supporters to not be involved with or support terrorism

Recruitment and indoctrination: Drawing individuals away from terrorism and to supporting the fight against terrorism and adopting the same alternative positive narrative

Reinforcing alliance partners: Showing support for individuals and organizations that fight against terrorism

Relationship building: Establishing cooperative efforts with like-minded organizations that fight against terrorism

Trolling: Posting opposing or critical messages to existing social media posts made by terrorists or their supporters, using an alternative or counter narrative.

Instead of participation in the process that the GEC and aligned entities are supporting and working hard to build, many candidates in the 2016 U.S. presidential primaries and elections as well as campaigns for other offices did just the opposite. They helped to perpetuate hate and a reputation that most people in the United States hate and mistrust Muslims. Candidates swayed anti-Muslim populations into supporting them by feeding into their fear, hatred, and mistrust of Muslims. They did so in person, on television, and through social media.

Far too often when there were incidents in the United States involving Muslim perpetrators, the nation and the candidates immediately blamed Islam. This contrasts their reactions when a white supremacy supporter is involved in a terror attack or crimes; in these cases, they are quickly labeled mentally ill. Most people in the United States believe that if a Muslim perpetrates such crimes it is because of Islam not mental illnesses.

The anti-Muslim rhetoric supported by the candidates does sway the voting population because many people in the United States could be said to be bigots and are paranoid about Muslims. The anti-Muslim rhetoric of the 2016 U.S. election campaigns was accompanied by anti-immigration rhetoric that fed the desire of some Americans to keep the United States a white Christian-dominated society;

a society that they believe still exists even though it barely exists at this point and what is left of it will be short lived. The candidates have convinced people that immigrants are taking jobs away from them when the fact of that matter is that most jobs that immigrants have in the United States are jobs that citizens will not do or cannot perform.

The anti-Muslim rhetoric and hate generated by the 2016 campaigns created fear in many Muslim populations around the world. Vulnerable populations and regions of the world that might be swayed to support terrorism are becoming convinced that the United States is in fact a hateful nation that holds prejudiced views against Muslims. If the message of the candidates and their delusional supporters is the only message that Muslims around the world receive from the United States, then the divide between Muslims and non-Muslims will remain very wide for a very long time.

The candidates are clearly not aware of the need for a counter and alternative narrative within the culture of the United States, just as it is needed in other places in the world. The perpetuation of anti-Muslim rhetoric by the candidates can be just as damaging as the anti-Western, anti-Christian, and anti-American narratives of the terrorists. The hateful rhetoric and narrative in the United States pushes Muslims away just as much as the rhetoric and narrative of the terrorists pulls Muslims closer to them. It all says so much about the lack of social responsibility of the candidates for president of the United States in 2016.

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