My Take on the “Muslim Travel Ban”

A number of people have for my views on the so-called “Muslim travel ban” imposed by the Trump administration. Here goes:

Statistically, the evidence shows that right-wing terrorists have been slightly more violent in the years since 9-11 than Islamists, at least in the US obviously. But the meaning I take from this data is that the neocons and other hawks are blowing the Islamic terrorism threat way out of proportion, while liberals and the Left blow the right-wing terrorism threat out of proportion. Both groups need these false narratives to be true for ideological reasons.

The neocons and other hawks want a permanent war against Islam and the Left wants a permanent war against whitey, so there always has to be some looming threat on the horizon. The real violence is the US comes mostly from inner city gangs that murder each other over drug dealing disputes, from fights and domestic violence that spirals out of control, and from the mentally ill or lone nuts like Adam Lanza, Dylan Roof, or Omar Mateen.

September 11, 2001 was a singular but spectacular incident that has predictably kept plenty of people up in arms ever since. The OKC bombing in ’95, which killed about 150, had the same impact on the Left. I remember how after OKC the Left was saying many more such acts were just around the corner. But over 20 years later there’s been no such thing. The same thing happened with 9-11. I remember people talking about how there was going to be nuclear destruction of US cities and terrorism with bioweapons and all kinds of stuff. But 15 years later there’s only been a handful of incidents like Orlando, San Bernardino, and Ft. Hood that were perpetrated by lone nuts or small groups of friends acting as freelancers.

It looks like Trump is implementing a policy that was originally put together by the Obama administration. If the purpose of this policy is to reduce the possibility of domestic terrorism by Muslim migrants, in order for the policy to have a reasonable chance of working it would have to be extended to include many nations that are not presently included in in the travel ban, particularly Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Banning Muslim immigrants in order to curb Islamic terrorism but not banning Saudi immigrants would be like banning Communist immigrants during the Cold War but not banning immigrants from the Soviet Union.

Even that would leave plenty of loopholes because there are plenty of Islamic terrorists that actually have citizenship in European and other nations where the US is obviously not going to issue a travel ban. Of course, it would be possible to ban immigrants of Middle Eastern ancestry from anywhere, and engage in strict “racial profiling” at entry points like borders and airports. But that’s not going to happen. It would be ruled illegal by federal courts. If the US really wants to curb Islamic terrorism, they need to stop funding and arming states that fund and promote it, primarily US allies like Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey. They also need to stop undermining secular regimes in the Middle East that oppose Wahhabist terrorism such as Iran and Syria, or the former regimes of Libya and Iraq. They also need to stop supporting Israel’s occupation of Palestine which makes the US a point of animus for Islamic terrorists.

It’s also possible to recruit homegrown terrorists and coordinate their activities by electronic means. The only potentially fool proof way of preventing domestic terrorism by Islamic extremists would be to have a North Korean like system in terms of restricted travel, communication, and surveillance which I doubt many people would want.

The 7-nation travel ban doesn’t seem very well thought out or conceived. It seems to be more of a political prop for Trump to establish his credibility by saying, “Hey, we mean business. Look at this…”

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