Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Ideological Screening


Ideological Screening

Plus: IDF releases footage from Hamas’ evil rampage, cancel culture in Los Angeles, Iceland’s ladies go on strike, and more…


Trump says no more America-haters: “I will implement strong ideological screening of all immigrants,” said former President Donald Trump at a Derry, New Hampshire, campaign rally yesterday. “If you hate America, if you want to abolish Israel, if you don’t like our religion—which a lot of them don’t—if you sympathize with the jihadists, then we don’t want you in our country and you are not getting in.”

This is a strange caricature of the immigrants coming here. Do we have evidence that America-hating jihadist-sympathizers are trying to get into the country en masse? To which ideologies should immigrants subscribe? What exactly is “our” religion?

Three-quarters of total immigrants are here legally, and 45 percent are naturalized citizens. More than half of immigrants are proficient in English. About one-quarter of adult Hispanic immigrants to the U.S. have already earned bachelor’s degrees. Per 2013 Pew data, “Christians remain by far the largest religious group among legal U.S. immigrants…over the past two decades, the U.S. has admitted an estimated 12.7 million Christian immigrants.”

Though it’s difficult to get a full sense of what percentage are here illegally, most agree that today’s number is a bit below the 2007 peak of 12.2 million, probably somewhere between 10 and 12 million. Per Pew’s 2013 data on illegal immigrants, about 83 percent are Christian.

None of this is to say that only Christian, English-speaking immigrants should be let in. But it is to say that we currently attract an awful lot of Christian, English-speaking, semi-educated immigrants and that at least some folks with sympathies for Hamas are homegrown.

As for jihadists, sure, it only takes one being let into the country to create a problem. But do we have any evidence that our current system is allowing jihadists to enter? New America’s count indicates that, over the last 22 years, 107 people have been killed by jihadists within the United States. Each of those deaths is tragic and each terrorist event is scary—take the 2019 shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, where three people were killed by an Al Qaeda–affiliated gunman—but it’s not clear to me that Trump’s “ideological screening” would fix that very limited problem.

Beware campaign-trail immigration applause lines. They’re pretty much all terrible.

Hamas’ brutality comes into fuller view: Amid swirling reports and conspiracy theories that journalists and the Israeli military were lying about, for example, Hamas beheading some of its October 7 victims, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) showed body cam, traffic camera, and CCTV footage to 200 foreign journalists yesterday, corroborating many of the most gruesome accounts.

“I killed 10 Jews with my bare hands,” says one Hamas terrorist to someone on the phone, per one of the recordings. Multiple Israeli victims appear to have been beheaded and burned alive. Video shows small children being shot. One victim was reportedly beheaded by a Hamas terrorist with a shovel. IDF officials told journalists yesterday that they have evidence of rape, but that they are not yet releasing it.

“When we say Hamas is ISIS, it’s not a branding effort,” said IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari. “Why does a person take a GoPro [to such an attack]? Because he’s proud of what he does.”

Meanwhile in Gaza: Overnight, Israeli strikes on Gaza heated up. Gaza’s health ministry reports that 704 people were killed in attacks last night, including in the southern areas that the IDF had told northern Gazans to flee to. Israel has been criticized by international aid organizations for not allowing fuel into Gaza, which is needed to power generators to keep hospitals running (12 of the 32 total hospitals are currently out of service), but Israel and Egypt have disagreed for more than a week now about proper screening measures for aid shipments going across Egypt’s Rafah border crossing to ensure weapons aren’t being secretly passed via aid shipments to Hamas, and that the terrorist group won’t seize the fuel to use it toward its own ends. Trucks carrying food, water, and medical supplies have passed through the border, but humanitarian groups say they’re struggling to distribute supplies.

Administrators at Al Shifa hospital say no help has arrived from the aid convoys yet. Check out CNN’s reporting on the horrific cascading effects that will come from hospitals in the region running out of fuel—including doctors no longer being able to keep babies in neonatal units alive.

Scenes from New York:

A packed house last night for the Reason Speakeasywhere Nick Gillespie interviewed Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott about their new bookThe Canceling of the American Mind.
A few delinquents (me, Matt Welch) sat in the back, drank Beaujolais, and, um, took in the sights.


  • Why did fertility decline in France during the 18th century?
  • Explainer on the Houthi militants in Yemen.
  • Today in Iceland, thousands of women (including the prime minister) are on strike (called kvennafrí) to protest the purported gender pay gap. “Women and non-binary people have been urged to refuse paid and unpaid work on Tuesday, including household chores,” reports the BBC. (Pretty sure that in my household, a failure to do all my “unpaid work” on one day would simply mean…playing catch-up the next day. Hard to see how that’s some huge win.) But here’s the best part: “Iceland has been ranked the best country in the world for gender equality by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for 14 years in a row.”
  • Pray for Justin Amash and his family in Gaza:
  • Rep. J.D. Vance (R–Ohio) calls for aid to Israel and Ukraine to be split up.
  • “General Li [Shangfu] is the second Chinese minister to be purged this year without explanation and under a cloud of suspicion; the foreign minister, Qin Gang, was dismissed in July,” reports The New York Times on the abrupt ousting of Xi Jinping’s defense minister.
  • Facts:
  • This feels like a very L.A. rendition of Israel-Hamas cancel culture, mostly because nobody has been very specific about anything, and because this top agent at Creative Artists Agency will keep her job, just step down as co-head of the motion picture department. (Also very L.A. to say, after you’ve been punished by your bosses for speech, that “dialogue is healing.” Is it really?)
  • This:
Liz Wolfe is an associate editor at Reason covering tech, free speech, and China and co-host of the Reason Livestream. She has interviewed sex workerstattoo artistsventure capitaliststech CEOscrypto hype men, and the occasional restaurateur. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.


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