Donald Trump has vowed to make Christmas greeting compulsory, but a former “Daily Show” correspondent joked that he’s already inspired yuletide celebrations in an extremely unlikely demographic: Islamic State militants.
“ISIS is just waiting for Trump to be president, they’re so excited,” Mandvi said. “He’s stirring those feelings in people here that is the same thing that fundamentalists are stirring in people on the other side of the world. ISIS is like, ‘Please waterboard more people, it makes our job so much easier.’ He gives ISIS and the terrorists every justification to say, ‘See, everything we’ve been saying is true, that America is about arrogance, violence and ignorance. Now they’re showing their true colors!'”
“This is like Christmas for ISIS — and they don’t even celebrate Christmas,” Mandvi said.
The Indian-born Mandvi said this year’s presidential election was shaping up as crucial in the way Americans view themselves, and in how the nation is perceived worldwide.
“It really does feel like the America we know, especially as immigrants, the America my parents came to, under a Trump presidency, those things disappear,” said Mandvi, who moved to Florida as a teenager, after living for more than a decade in the U.K. “The things we believe in, the things that make this country great, the diversity, the multiplicity of what this country is. What he’s managed to do is galvanize this voice of fear that is mostly based in white men. A majority of his voters are angry white men, and often not college educated. There’s this idea that somehow the America that white people have benefited from is slipping away, and a fear that immigrants are taking over. First a black president, then a female president. This is outrageous!”
Mandvi said Trump had triggered an irrational response in his supporters, who don’t even care whether the Republican nominee tells easily debunked lies or slanders the Muslim parents of a U.S. soldier who died a hero in Iraq.
“They don’t care,” Mandvi said. “He’s an outlet for rage and anger. I used to think it’s about reason. It’s not. It’s a purely emotional reaction. Fear is not a rational emotion. You can’t take away somebody’s fear by saying statistics show…they’re just afraid. This is how dictators come to power. Hitler. Mussolini. By exploiting the collective insanity.”
Mandvi, who is Muslim but says he’s spent more time in bars than mosques, said he’s taking a fatalistic view of the coming years.
“There’s a very Buddhist part of me that says maybe this is America’s time to experience the demagogue and see how that feels,” he said. “Those people who are now supporting him, like the Germans in 1937, will ultimately realize that the whole thing is a lie. We’ve had a great run for 240 years. There’s a part of me that resigns itself to the universe. I will fight Trump with every ounce of whatever I have, but if that’s what wins, then there’s a collective insanity that has taken over.”
“If he wins, then revolution begins,” Mandvi said. “It’s the job of the citizenry to rise up, speak up, the artists, activists, to speak out against it.”