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, PDF & Email

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

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and two-time failed presidential candidate, is a foreign policy hawk with neoconservative leanings who appears set to become the next senator from Utah.


Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman and longtime “superlobbyist” who has supported numerous neoconservative advocacy campaigns, has become embroiled in the special prosecutor’s investigation into the Donald Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.


Jon Lerner is a conservative political strategist and top adviser to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. He was a key figure in the “Never Trump” Campaign, which appears to have led to his being ousted as Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser.


Pamela Geller is a controversial anti-Islam activist who has founded several “hate groups” and likes to repeat debunked myths, including about the alleged existence of “no-go” Muslim zones in Europe.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Although overlooked by President Trump for cabinet post, Gingrich has tried to shape affairs in the administration, including by conspiring with government officials to “purge the State Department of staffers they viewed as insufficiently loyal” to the president.


Former Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) is an advisor for United Against Nuclear Iran. He is an outspoken advocate for aggressive action against Iran and a fierce defender of right-wing Israeli policies.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Other than the cynical political interests in Moscow and Tehran, there is no conceivable rationale for wanting Bashar al-Assad to stay in power. But the simple fact is, he has won the war. And while Donald Trump has reveled in positive press coverage of the recent attacks on the country, it is clear that they were little more than a symbolic act.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The reality is that the Assad regime is winning the Syrian civil war, and this matters far less to U.S. interests than it does to that regime or its allies in Russia and Iran, who see Syria as their strongest and most consistent entrée into the Arab world. Those incontrovertible facts undermine any notion of using U.S. military force as leverage to gain a better deal for the Syrian people.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

An effective rhetorical tool to normalize military build-ups is to characterize spending increases “modernization.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Pentagon has officially announced that that “long war” against terrorism is drawing to a close — even as many counterinsurgency conflicts  rage across the Greater Middle East — and a new long war has begun, a permanent campaign to contain China and Russia in Eurasia.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Revelations that data-consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten personal information from Facebook for the Trump campaign masks the more scandalous reality that the company is firmly ensconced in the U.S. military-industrial complex. It should come as no surprise then that the scandal has been linked to Erik Prince, co-founder of Blackwater.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As the United States enters the second spring of the Trump era, it’s creeping ever closer to more war. McMaster and Mattis may have written the National Defense Strategy that over-hyped the threats on this planet, but Bolton and Pompeo will have the opportunity to address these inflated threats in the worst way possible: by force of arms.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

We meet Donald Trump in the media every hour of every day, which blots out much of the rest of the world and much of what’s meaningful in it.  Such largely unexamined, never-ending coverage of his doings represents a triumph of the first order both for him and for an American cult of personality.


RightWeb
share