At some point after President Donald Trump touches down in Saudi Arabia on Friday, he will reportedly grace the leaders of his host nation, as well as those from dozens of other Muslim-majority countries, with a speech on a subject near and dear to whatever approximates his heart: Islam.
During a Tuesday morning press conference to discuss details of the president’s trip, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster explained that Trump will “deliver an inspiring but direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology and the president’s hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam to dominate across the world.”
The speech, McMaster continued, is “intended to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilization and to demonstrate America’s commitment to our Muslim partners.”
Of course, if anyone knows about uniting the broader Muslim world against a common threat, it’s the man who called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” who repeatedly tried follow through on that pledge, and whose political ascendency has seen a spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes.
But, in fact, there is precedent for a sitting U.S. president to address a Muslim nation with his thoughts on Islam and its role in the world today. That president was Barack Obama, whose “A New Beginning” speech was delivered at Cairo University in 2009. Trump, for his part, trashed that speech as “misguided” and “naive,” and—in a tweet from 2012—suggested a connection between Obama’s words and a terrorist attack carried out by the Muslim Brotherhood.
But now that he’s the big boy in the Oval Office, surely Trump will be gracious to his Saudi hosts and respectful of their deeply held beliefs, right?
What could possibly go wrong?