Muslims Are Not the Problem

A week ago, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Trump signed an executive order restricting the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The order suspended immigration for citizens of these seven countries for three months. The order also stated that the admission of refugees from any country in the world would be halted for four months, and Syrian refugees were to be banned indefinitely.

Illustration by Ben Murphy

In this day and age, with regard to terrorism, current immigration practices should be one of the last things we look at. If we really want to talk about the most dangerous terrorists in the U.S., we should be looking at white Americans. According to the New America Foundation, American white supremacists carry out the vast majority of fatal attacks on U.S. soil. Just think of mass shootings—64 percent are committed by white people, almost all of them men. If we look at Dylann Roof, for example, we see that his prosecutors said that he ‘self-radicalized’ himself through the internet. For the most part, terrorists do not fly off to other countries and radicalize themselves—this is an outdated notion.

To some, it may seem like there has been an increase in so-called ‘Islamic terrorism’, and Trump is simply responding to the perceived threat. According to Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, large numbers of “terrorists have used refugee status to get into the United States.” This is easy to believe without analysis. When we think of terrorists in the U.S., we think of the 9/11 hijackers, the Boston bombers, the San Bernardino shooters, and the Orlando nightclub shooter.

By Trump’s logic, this executive order should ban people from the nations from which each of these terrorists originated. It doesn’t. In fact, not one citizen of the seven countries listed in Trump’s order has committed a single terrorist attack on U.S. soil between the years of 1975 and 2015. Does the order at least ban people from countries with the highest Muslim populations? It does not. With the exception of Iran, none of the other countries named by the executive order are even among the top 10 countries with the largest Muslim populations.

Some have accepted this and said that there may indeed be a few problems with Trump’s executive order. The media has speculated that this is just a starting point, and that Trump will probably expand this list in the future, seeing as he thinks immigration is a threat to national security. According to a non-partisan think tank, the Cato Institute, this is not true. The chances of an American being killed by a foreigner on U.S. soil is one in 3.6 million. But Trump is not just talking about foreigners here, he’s talking about terrorists posing as refugees. So what are the odds of that? Much lower—one in 3.6 billon. That’s a 0.000000028 percent chance of being killed by a refugee of any nationality.

People often think of Muslims as dangerous. According to psychologists, when a lie is perpetually repeated, it begins to feel more familiar, and as a result, more true. This is called cognitive ease, or the ‘illusion of truth.’ The media consistently spews the Muslim terrorist narrative and so, as a result, the word ‘Muslim’ then becomes synonymous with the word ‘terrorist.’ Such lies have serious consequences. According to a study by California State University, there were more hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. in 2015 than in any year since 2001. The day after Trump’s executive order was signed, a Texas mosque was set ablaze, leaving it in ruins. Two days after the order was signed, there was a mass shooting at a mosque in Canada, killing six and injuring eight. Fox News was quick to get on the story, reporting that the suspect was a Moroccan Muslim. But this was false—the shooter was yet another white male.

Though Trump’s executive order is not quite a ‘Muslim ban,’ there are clear intentions of the Trump administration to extend it to that.

Unfortunately for Trump, this executive order will prove to be useless. It will not achieve its objective in reducing terrorism in the U.S. because it fails to acknowledge that Muslims are not the problem. There is no logical basis in the claim that immigrants, refugees, or even Muslims on the whole, are a threat to the security of the United States. Yet the endless demonization of Muslims in the media makes it seem like there is.

Fiachra MacFadden

Fiachra MacFadden

Fiachra MacFadden

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