In the words of Donald Trump, “Anyone who cannot name our enemy is not fit to lead our country,” speaking of former president Obama’s well-reasoned reluctance to spout the words “Islamic terrorism.” Along the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly admonished the Obama administration for not properly addressing or reacting to terrorist attacks, one press release reading “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
While we may be inclined to give Donald some slack- considering his presidency as of yet has been characterized by a concerted effort by White House staff to help him “figure out what is going on”- we should instead, look at the legislation he has passed in accordance with his strong anti-terrorism stance. Specifically, we will examine President Trump’s passage of the “Muslim ban” and the efficacy and rationality behind it.
Surprise! There is none. In fact, a study shows that from 1975 to 2016, there have been exactly zero American deaths resulting from terrorists originating from any of the countries listed on the travel ban. Moreover, the chances of an American dying from a terrorist attack during that time period (9/11 included) were “1 in 3,609,709 a year.” For reference, the average yearly likelihood that you’ll be struck by lightning is 1 in 1,083,000- a little more than three times the likelihood of being killed by a foreign-born terrorist. Now, we know that none of these Muslim-majority countries are producing terrorists, so who is?
The answer: the good old U.S. of A. According to The Pew Research Center, 72 percent of Americans are either somewhat (30 percent) or very concerned (42 percent) about the threat Islamic Extremism poses to countries across North America and Europe. It’s obvious people are scared, but more importantly they are ill-informed, and we can see that reflected in the polls. A survey conducted by Politico showed that 55 percent of Americans approve the travel ban. The thing is…they shouldn’t.
New America, a nonpartisan think-tank, revealed that 85 percent of convicted jihadists in the United States were either U.S. citizens, naturalized citizens, or legal permanent residents. What’s more, the two extremists who actually did originate from Trump’s blacklist, Abdul Razak Ali Artan and Mohammed Taheri-azar, were legal U.S. residents. It seems the source of terrorism in the United States overwhelmingly lies in our own backyard. However, foreign naturalized citizens only account for about 65 percent of jihadist attacks. The remaining terrorists were American-born Muslim-converts plucked from suburbs and cities, many times enlisted by an Islamic zealot and recruiter named Anwar al-Awlaki. The demographic for Islamic terrorism contains a startling number of American citizens, with nearly a third originating from “traditional” American families.
The absurdity of the “Muslim ban” and its obvious bigotry is now on full display. A large majority of past terrorists have successfully become legal residents, making the ban on travel seem at best irrelevant and at worst, misleading. Moreover, the whopping 15 terrorists who managed to travel to the United States between 1975 and 2016 were responsible for exactly zero deaths. Similarly, we should remind ourselves of the percentage of indoctrinated Americans on the list of convicted terrorists, because it’s bigger than we’d like to think. All this being said, one resilient question echoes across the globe, deep into capital hill: why does this ban still exist?