Updated at 1:31 p.m. ET
President Obama on Tuesday blasted Donald Trump’s renewed call to ban Muslims from entering the United States, arguing that such a plan would only let terrorists win.
In a public address from the Treasury Department about the fight against the Islamic State and the deadly shooting in Orlando, Florida, Obama let loose on Republicans for constantly criticizing his refusal to use their pet phrase “radical Islam” and singled out Trump’s recent rhetoric about Muslims and terrorism as especially “dangerous.”
Obama set out to destroy a popular Republican talking point that Obama cannot possibly be an effective leader in the fight against terror if he cannot use the phrase “radical Islam.”
“What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?” Obama asked, referring to the phrase “radical Islam.” “The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction.”
“There’s not been a moment in my seven and a half years as president where we have not able to pursue a strategy because we didn’t use the label ‘radical Islam,'” he added. “So someone seriously thinks that we don’t know who we’re fighting?”
Obama said that his deliberate refusal to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” has “nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with actually defeating extremism.”
The President also singled out Trump and his proposed ban on barring Muslims from entering the U.S. He said that he’s now “seeing how dangerous this kind of mindset and this kind of thinking can be.”
Obama noted that some of the recent attacks were carried out by American citizens and asked, “Are we going to start treating all Muslim Americans differently? Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance? Are we going start to discriminating against them because of their faith?”
“We’ve heard these suggestions during the course of this campaign. Do Republican officials actually agree with this? Because that’s not the America we want,” Obama said. “It does not reflect our democratic ideals. It won’t make us more safe, it will make us less safe.”
The President said that such rhetoric is only “fueling ISIL’s notion that the West hates Muslims.”
He warned that if Americans ever abandon the basic freedoms that the country was founded to protect, “then the terrorists would have won.”
“And we cannot let that happen. I will not let that happen,” he said.