Wednesday, December 1, 2021
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Mythbusting the “Muslim Ban”

A lot has been said about Trump’s executive order regarding travel, referred to as the “Muslim Ban” by major news outlets and most people discussing the issue. Based on trending reports, one would believe that over the past weeks Trump has twirled an evil mustache while banning religions and signing executive orders like they’re Mickey Mouse autographs. In light of all the emotionally charged headlines and cultural uproar, I decided to investigate exactly what this course of events has entailed. A cursory examination of the facts dispels many of the myths used to sensationalize this story.

The first misconception comes from the commonly used terminology. I’ve heard it argued that “Muslim ban” is just shorthand, but this is quite the deceptive explanation because in this case the shorthand is a provocative and attention grabbing phrase that functions as a kind of emotional hijacking. It’s worked quite well, garnering a good deal of outrage and attention. However, a more accurate term would be that of a travel restriction, as the executive order bars not only Muslims, but travel in general. With that in mind, this is as much of a Muslim ban as it is a Christian ban or a Michael J. Fox ban.

Interestingly enough, India, Indonesia and Pakistan — the three most populous Muslim nations on earth — didn’t find their way to the list, a curious feature of the alleged “Muslim Ban”. With all this in mind, I got to wondering that if this wasn’t a ban aimed at Muslims, why exactly did these nations end up as part of the travel ban? This then lead me to a fact largely glossed over in most coverage of the story.

In 2015, Barack Obama signed off on the Visa Waver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Protection Act. This served to identify several different “countr[ies] or area[s] of concern” while restricting the issuance of travel visas to persons who had visited these places. Incidentally the places identified, countries closely linked to terrorism, eventually grew to be all seven nations included in the travel restriction Trump enacted. Most reports mention this in passing, giving scant details on how it relates to current events. Trump’s executive order did not even specifically identify all seven countries by name; instead their inclusion came as a progression based on these previously enacted security measures. A few interesting observations can be drawn from this fact.

First, I don’t recall much nation-wide outcry over these previous restrictions. Though Trump has indeed enacted stricter regulations, it almost seems that these complaints have arisen not due to the issue it addressed but because of the man himself.

Second, as noted by the previous administration, these seven countries do indeed have close ties to numerous terrorist organizations. When discussing the Middle East, everyone dances around the issue for fear of accusing all Muslims of being terrorists. By no means am I making such a statement, but the danger of radicals from these areas cannot be denied.

Another common critique of the travel ban is its legality. I’ve seen things like, “Muslim Ban Unconstitutional” written in chalk on the walkways across campus, yet the ban is not illegal at all.

A worldwide and domestic precedent exists for security measures regarding travel. As stated earlier, Obama had a hand in 2015 travel regulations as well as restrictions on refugees from Iraq in 2011. I’ve heard these actions explained away as temporary in nature and dealing with specific threats, but the same thing could be said for President Trump’s actions. Have refugees been forever barred from the US? No. Is it more accurate to say that the president has temporarily blocked entry to ensure methods of immigration from these terror prone areas are thorough? I’d say so.

Along with this period of reassessment comes the idea of establishing safe zones in these countries. Instead of a taking indefinite amounts of refugees for an indeterminate amount of time, a temporary solution, safe zones would give these tumultuous areas a chance of returning to a state of viability. Unfortunately, I’ve found that most reports either willingly or by negligence don’t frame the story with these details.

People obviously disagree with the executive order, and they have the right to. Yet most of the outrage I’ve encountered on the issue is based on emotion, speculation or outright shoddy reporting. Not only this, but both individuals trying to present the facts and people not openly opposing the ban are publicly shamed while having their character called into question. It’s ironic that in the information age, with so much knowledge at our fingertips, the facts often remain unmentioned in favor of emotional responses or shocking headlines.

But as it turns out, the truth, though it might not look like much, can actually be pretty illuminating if you give it the chance.

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  1. “But as it turns out, the truth, though it might not look like much, can actually be pretty illuminating if you give it the chance.” You’re kidding, right?

  2. Hey Jordan, let me give you my german opinion on that matter :D

    3.6 billion to 1 per year. These are the odds of a fatal terror attack in the U.S. by a refugee. Just to compare: the chance of getting struck by lightning twice! is 1 in 9 million. I understand that people are concerned about safety, and are wondering who they’re letting into the country. But I feel like most people are just basing their opinion on feelings or alternative facts rather than actual facts. If you really want to talk safety, in 2016 there were a stunning 15 thousand people killed by guns and 30 thousand injured in the US. No other developed western nation can compare and even come close to that. So maybe attacking that problem would increase safety in your country a lot more than focusing on the populist aspect of refugees in this construct.
    Apart from that many people think any refugee can just come in if it weren’t for the travel ban. Unfortunately most people talking about this issue don’t seem to know what kind of screening procedures are already in place.

    The U.S. actually has one of the most extensive and rigorous screening procedures of any country. Just let me walk you through this real quick:

    1) First you need to apply through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Less than 1 percent of refugees get recommended for resettlement.
    2) If you are one of these lucky guys, you then might be referred to the state department to begin the vetting process.
    At this point you will be put through security screenings by the National Counter Terrorism Center, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.
    3) Then you might get an interview with USCIS offices and be fingerprinted to get those run through the systems of the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Department of Defense.
    4) And if you make it through all that you’ll then get health screenings and if everything is okay you’ll be enrolled in cultural orientation classes. All while your data continues to be checked if any new information comes in.
    So all of that has to happen before you can even think about getting on a plane to the US.

    This process typically takes 18 to 24 months! once you have been referred to the US by the United Nations.
    I don’t know about you, but if I were a terrorist I would certainly not choose this way to get in, when you can get a visa so much easier.

    Moreover, I’m not saying the U.S. is solely to blame for the rise of ISIS, but they certainly played a vital role in creating the circumstances that made it possible. Starting with the Bush administration invading Iraq in search for weapons of mass destruction… continuing with Obama’s US military withdrawal from Iraq which left a power vacuum. And now refusing to help the refugees, threatened by ISIS and other terrorist groups, fearing for their lifes everyday, at least in my opinion, is pretty pathetic. Especially for a country that always presents itself as sooo religious and was founded by immigrants. I’m not at all religious, but from your actions I cannot say that you are.

    Furthermore, it’s ridiculous that Europe has to take in millions while the U.S. has taken in hardly anyone compared to their size.
    To put this in numbers: In 2015 nearly 1.1 million refugees arrived in Germany, a country with the population of 80 million, and another 300 thousand refugees in 2016.
    The U.S. a nation of over 300 million people has taken in just about 10 thousand syrian refugees in 2016.

    But I’m not at all suprised about what is happening right now. I still cannot believe that the American people would vote for Trump. A man that keeps contradicting himself and lies without hesitation. How delusional do you have to be to tell obvious lies when there is actual footage and audio of you that prooves you’re lying. (Examples are plentiful: Iraq war, David Duke,..) The sheer frequency and seeming irrelevance of his lies have no precedent.
    Apart from that his picks for cabinet are just sad. Watching the hearing of Betsy DeVos for example – absolute cringe. So unfit and incompetent for the job. I’m sure people like her are going to make America super great again.
    What’s happening right now doesn’t do the awesome country that is the U.S. any justice.

    I think I should leave it at that. I really hope I get proven wrong and everything turns out better than I thought, but sadly I highly doubt that.


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