March 21st, 2017

The Muslim ban and American history

Economics & Politics

Donald Trump’s revised executive order to bar entry to the United States from six Muslim-majority countries is the latest salvo in America’s epic culture wars over race and American identity. As a matter of national security and law, the policy makes no sense, as the US District Court for the District of Hawaii has made clear. Yet Trump figures that he wins politically even as he loses again in court. Trump’s politics depend on making Muslims a target of hatred among working-class white voters, a strategy with a long and successful history in US politics. While this approach succeeded in putting Trump in the White House, I doubt that it will play well for long.

Viewed from a national security perspective, Trump’s entry ban doesn’t pass muster. As the federal courts have pointed out, not a single terrorist attack in the United States has involved a visa-holder from any of the six Muslim countries named in the ban (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, with Iraq now removed from the preceding executive order). In fact, 9/11 was carried out by Saudis, and most of the other terrorist attacks have been carried out by US citizens. A draft report by the Department of Homeland Security itself noted that citizenship is an “unlikely indicator” of terrorist threats. Some observers have argued that the Muslim ban skips any Muslim-majority country where Trump has business interests. Trump himself claims that the list of seven (now six) countries comes from the Obama administration, but the Obama administration list was merely to require visas for individuals who had recently visited one of the countries, not to bar entry by nationals of those countries.

Read the full article at The Boston Globe


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