And so, in a move that comes as a surprise to no-one, Donald Trump has stirred controversy with his latest proposal as part of his presidential campaign- Trump wants to place a blanket ban on Muslims entering the United States. However, this is very much a soundbite summary so I would like to spend today’s blog deconstructing Trump’s proposal.
What is Trump’s proposal?
There isn’t very much more to the proposal- he wants to impose a ban on anyone who identifies as Muslim from entering the United States. To be clear, this would only affects those looking to enter the country, Trump isn’t saying that he wants to deport any Muslim already residing in the United States (although I wouldn’t put it past him).
Where is this coming from?
In the speech Trump announced this pledge in; he cites a study from the Centre for Security Policy, which argues that 25% of Muslims surveyed felt that “violence towards America was justified”. Let’s break this down- the Centre for Security Policy is a Conservative think-tank founded and led by Frank Gaffney Jr., a former White House staffer and “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes” according to the Southern Poverty Law Centre. The study that Trumps cites was an opt-in internet survey which essentially put the participant between a rock and a hard place, for example, asking them to choose between agreeing with upholding Sharia Law or supporting violence (just violence in general) and the survey only collected data from 600 people, 0.0002% of the US population or 0.02% of the United States’ Muslim population. There are so many issues with this- firstly, it is hard to imagine the CSP showed no bias when creating this survey and interpreting its results. Secondly, when studying the attitudes of a population that numbers around 2.77 million, 600 is a pitiful sample to base any sort of findings on. Speaking of samples, a survey is unlikely to hold any ecological validity (the strength of findings in terms of their ‘real-world’ validity) if your participants can choose whether they want to receive the survey, rather than asking multiple people at random and then collecting the results of those who choose to do it.
How has Trump defended this view?
During an interview on Good Morning America, Trump likened his actions to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two. Unfortunately for Trump, the US government apologised for that course of action in 1980 and gave $20,000 to all surviving victims of the internment so comparing a proposal to that doesn’t help boost your cause. His interview with MSNBC went down even worse with the presenter forcing an ad break after Trump repeatedly spoke over journalists and refused to answer numerous questions. Trump also elaborated on his proposal, stating that any imposed ban would be ‘short-term’.
What has been the response to Trump’s proposal?
Outside of Trump’s hard-core supporters, Trump has come under fire from all sides. Within the US, fellow Republican candidates have condemned Trump’s idea, with Jeb Bush calling him “unhinged” and Chris Christie calling the idea a “ridiculous position”. Even Dick Cheney, the rational and beloved American hero that he is, commented that the idea “goes against everything we stand for and believe in”. Outside the US, many international politicians have also voiced their disagreement with Trump, with David Cameron saying that it was “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong” and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, commenting that Trump’s rhetoric threatened the American participation in the Syrian refugee resettlement program. A gov.uk petition has even been started to ban Trump from entering the United Kingdom and, as of 2:30pm on December 9th, sits at 168,667 signatures.
What will be the consequences of this latest Trump moment?
At this early stage, it’s hard to say. Most likely, as with Trump’s previous comments, this will all blow over and we will go back to normal. While Trump has dipped slightly in polls, he still has a strong supporter base and most importantly, he believes in what he is saying. No amount of pressure is going to force him to renounce his candidacy. The worst case scenario is that he runs as an independent candidate. This would be bad for the Republicans as he may divide the vote enough to allow the Democrats victory. However, I must note that there is still just under a year to the election so anything can happen. That said, the Iowa caucus is fast approaching and it will be interesting to see how Trump fairs if he continues his radical politics.