Feb 4, 2017

Five Problems with "Muslim Ban" Outrage

The top story this past week was President Trump's Executive Order 13769. The opposition and media are calling it a "Muslim ban." There are protests and demonstrations, and many sob stories about those inconvenienced by the order. One of our senators even cried about it on TV.

I don't normally pay much attention to politics, but it has been impossible to ignore since the election season. I keep finding myself thinking about whatever issue is driving the latest media hype or hysteria -- and if I am thinking, then I am thinking things through.

With regard to the "Muslim ban," I see five problems with all the outrage:

1. It's not a Muslim ban. "The ban includes seven majority Muslim countries, but by no means are these states the most populous Muslim countries, nor are they among the top sources of Muslim immigration to the U.S.," according to The Atlantic.

2. President Trump didn't choose the countries on the list. It should go without saying that the countries included in the ban were selected by national security experts within the Trump administration. The order repeatedly defers to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence. These officials no doubt based their decision on a list of countries that had been identified as high risk by the previous administration. "In December 2015, President Obama signed into law a measure placing limited restrictions on certain travelers who had visited Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011," according to CNN. "Two months later, the Obama administration added Libya, Somalia, and Yemen to the list, in what it called an effort to address 'the growing threat from foreign terrorist fighters.'"

3. It's temporary, and for logical reasons. The order suspends entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants from the seven countries in question for 90 days. The purpose of the suspension (or "ban") for that length of time is to "temporarily reduce investigative burdens on relevant agencies during the review period ... to ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of foreign nationals, and to ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals," according to the text of the order. A side issue is a "realignment of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP)," which includes a suspension of that program for 120 days.

4. The countries are homes to terrorism (at present). Most acts of terrorism on US soil have been perpetrated by Americans. Very few incidents, or averted incidents, of terrorism were perpetrated by nationals from the seven countries in the ban. For example, the September 11 attacks were executed by Saudis, and yet Saudi Arabia is not on the list of banned countries. In this regard, I think Scott Adams put it best: "On Twitter, I am seeing lots of well-meaning liberals tweet charts showing that no one from the banned countries has ever been a terrorist in the United States," he blogged on January 29. "But Trump isn’t trying to solve the PAST. He’s trying to reduce risks in the future. And the future has risks that are unlike the past." More to the point: A thinking person should look at each country on the list and recall what is happening in those countries. Three of the countries on the list are home bases for the Islamic State (Iraq, Syria and Libya). Yemen and Somalia are well known for Islamist bases and training camps. The U.S. has bombed six of the seven countries on the list on multiple occasions and cyber-attacked the other (Iran), which is trying to make nukes. Since no one has posited a credible alternate hypothesis for why these seven countries were selected, we have to assume it has something to do with these facts.

5. Six of the seven countries we banned also ban visitors based on nationality. While what other countries do shouldn't determine what we do, a rational and fair-minded person would notice that "Israeli citizens are currently banned from entering 16 [Muslim-majority] states," according to The Independent. Among them are six of the seven countries in question. "Syria, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Libya all forbid Israeli passport holders from entering their countries, along with 10 other nations," according to The Telegraph (citing the International Air Transport Association). Some of those other nations even have Muslim majorities, making the restriction a "Muslim ban" by the opposition's definition. Those nations include Algeria, Brunei, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.