Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

How Islamophobes and “Alternative Facts” Shaped Trump’s Muslim Ban

Trump’s support for a Muslim ban are connected to his embrace of an unscientific poll undertaken by one of his top advisors (who claims that she disseminates “alternative facts”) and commissioned by a renowned anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist.

Print Friendly

Lobelog

The White House’s temporary ban on visitors from seven Muslim majority countries threw the Donald Trump administration into its first constitutional conflict over the weekend when multiple federal judges blocked parts of the executive order. Media attention has justifiably focused on the legal proceedings underway to release travelers from detainment at airports across the country and prevent deportations. But it’s worth reexamining the deeply flawed and unscientific polling that inspired Trump’s targeting of Muslim travelers.

The roots of Trump’s Muslim ban go back to his embrace of non-existent Pew Research data and an unscientific poll undertaken by one of his top advisors (who claims that she disseminates “alternative facts”) and commissioned by a renowned anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist with close ties to Trump strategist Steve Bannon.

Yesterday, apparently in response to protests across the U.S., Trump issued a statement claiming that his executive order was misinterpreted as a ban on Muslims entering the country. He said:

To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion—this is about terror and keeping our country safe.

But Trump explicitly called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on” back on December 7, 2015.

In that statement, Trump cited polling by Pew Research and the Center for Security Policy to back up his statement that “there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population.”

Trump didn’t link to a specific Pew Research poll but none of their polls appears to support that conclusion.

Pew’s 2011 report on Muslim Americans concluded there are “no signs of growth in alienation or support for extremism” and found that only 21% of Muslim Americans say there is either a “great deal” (6%), or a “fair amount” (15%) of support for extremism in their communities.

The study also found that Muslim Americans were by and large happy with their lives in the U.S. The authors concluded:

[…] Muslim Americans have not become disillusioned with the country. They are overwhelmingly satisfied with the way things are going in their lives (82%) and continue to rate their communities very positively as places to live (79% excellent or good).

Pew’s vice president for global strategy, James Bell, responded to Trump’s statement, saying, “The statement released by Mr. Trump’s campaign does not specify a data point, so we can’t identify the report that he may be referencing.”

Although the Pew research cited by Trump simply doesn’t exist, the Center for Security Policy poll certainly does. But the poll’s origins and methods are highly suspect.

The poll, according to Trump’s statement, showed that: “25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad” and 51% of those polled, “agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.”

The polling was a highly unscientific online opt-in survey of 600 Muslims, a fact that the Center for Security Policy did not initially disclose. The American Association for Public Opinion Research, which sets ethical standards for pollsters, cautions that opt-in surveys can be misleading and inaccurate. “The pollster has no idea who is responding to the question,” it warns, noting that such surveys lack a “‘grounded statistical tie’ to the population. As a result, estimates from self-selected volunteers are subject to unknown error that cannot be measured.”

The Center for Security Policy and the pollsters they commissioned, Polling Company/Woman Trend, are also questionable sources for research used in forming public policy.

The Center for Security Policy is a hawkish think tank largely dedicated to combating efforts to reduce defense spending (they have received funding from Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, and General Electric) and promoting unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about Muslim Americans.

The group’s president, Frank Gaffney, has claimed, without evidence, that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, and former George W. Bush appointee Suhail Khan were part of a vast Muslim Brotherhood plot to infiltrate the U.S. government. He also claimed that the Missile Defense Agency logo “appears ominously to reflect a morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo.”

Gaffney maintained a close public relationship with Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, before Bannon joined the Trump campaign, appearing 29 times on Bannon’s radio show and regularly contributing as a columnist on Breitbart.com, where Bannon served as chairman.

Last week, LobeLog revealed that Gaffney was playing a behind-the-scenes role in the formation of a new interfaith group that supports Trump’s anti-Muslim agenda.

Gaffney’s choice of polling firm, Polling Company/Woman Trend, is interesting as well. Its president is Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, who recently made headlines last week when she described the administration supplying the media with “alternative facts,” leading to comparisons to the totalitarian regime in George Orwell’s novel 1984.

Following Trump’s campaign announcement proposing a ban on Muslim immigration, an unnamed representative of Conway’s firm told New York magazine that the poll was statistically unreliable and that Trump was misusing the data. They said:

As this poll was conducted among an online group of opt-in respondents, we did not publish a margin of error or otherwise advise our client that the data were statistically representative of the entire US Muslim population. In addition, Mr. Trump’s premise and policy proposal has no backing in the survey.

In other words, the chaos unleashed over the weekend by Trump’s executive order banning the entry of citizens from seven Muslim majority countries may very well be rooted in Trump’s acceptance of Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts” and the anti-Muslim conspiracy theories espoused by Washington’s most infamous Islamophobe.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Although sometimes characterized as a Republican “maverick” for his bipartisan forays into domestic policy, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is one of the Senate’s more vocal hawks.


Former CIA director Michael Hayden, a stalwart advocate of the Bush-era policies on torture and warrantless wiretapping, has been a vocal critic of Donald Trump


The former GOP presidential candidate and Speaker of the House has been a vociferous proponent of the idea that the America faces an existential threat from “Islamofascists.”


David Albright is the founder of the Institute for Science and International Security, a non-proliferation think tank whose influential analyses of nuclear proliferation issues in the Middle East have been the source of intense disagreement and debate.


A right-wing Christian and governor of Kansas, Brownback previously served in the U.S. Senate, where he gained a reputation as a leading social conservative as well as an outspoken “pro-Israel” hawk on U.S. Middle East policy.


Steve Forbes, head of the Forbes magazine empire, is an active supporter of a number of militarist policy organizations that have pushed for aggressive U.S. foreign policies.


Stephen Hadley, an Iraq War hawk and former national security adviser to President George W. Bush, now chairs the U.S. Institute for Peace.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly

The Trump administration appears to have been surprised by this breach among its friends in the critical Gulf strategic area. But it is difficult to envision an effective U.S. role in rebuilding this Humpty-Dumpty.


Print Friendly

A recent vote in the European Parliament shows how President Trump’s relentless hostility to Iran is likely to isolate Washington more than Tehran.


Print Friendly

The head of the Institute for Science and International Security—aka “the Good ISIS”—recently demonstrated again his penchant for using sloppy analysis as a basis for politically explosive charges about Iran, in this case using a faulty translation from Persian to misleadingly question whether Tehran is “mass producing advanced gas centrifuges.”


Print Friendly

Trump has exhibited a general preference for authoritarians over democrats, and that preference already has had impact on his foreign policy. Such an inclination has no more to do with realism than does a general preference for democrats over authoritarians.


Print Friendly

The President went to the region as a deal maker and a salesman for American weapon manufacturing. He talked about Islam, terrorism, Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without the benefit of expert advice in any of these areas. After great showmanship in Riyadh, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem, he and his family left the region without much to show for or to benefit the people of that war-torn region.


Print Friendly

Although the Comey memo scandal may well turn out to be what brings Trump down, this breach of trust may have had more lasting effect than any of Trump’s other numerous misadventures. It was an unprecedented betrayal of Israel’s confidence. Ironically, Trump has now done what even Barack Obama’s biggest detractors never accused him of: seriously compromised Israel’s security relationship with the United States.


Print Friendly

Congress and the public acquiesce in another military intervention or a sharp escalation of one of the U.S. wars already under way, perhaps it’s time to finally consider the true costs of war, American-style — in lives lost, dollars spent, and opportunities squandered. It’s a reasonable bet that never in history has a society spent more on war and gotten less bang for its copious bucks.


RightWeb
share