Right Web

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

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

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

Bret Stephens is a columnist for the New York Times who previously worked at the Wall Street Journal and the neoconservative flagship magazine Commentary.


Donald Trump’s second attorney general, William Barr is the focus of a growing controversy over the Robert Mueller report because his decision to unilaterally declare that the the president had not obstructed justice during the Mueller investigation.


The Republican Jewish Coalition is a right wing Jewish advocacy groups that promotes an aggressive pro-Israel and anti-Iran policy.


Erik Prince, former CEO of the mercenary group Blackwater, continues to sell security services around the world as controversies over his work—including in China and the Middle East, and his alleged involvement in collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia—grow.


The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of the more effective U.S. lobbying outfits, aims to ensure that the United States backs Israel regardless of the policies Israel pursues.


Gina Haspel is the first woman to hold the position of director of the CIA, winning her confirmation despite her history of involvement in torture during the Iraq War.


United against Nuclear Iran is a pressure group that attacks companies doing business in Iran and disseminates alarmist reports about the country’s nuclear program.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

The new government will, once again, be the most right wing in Israel’s history. But this time, the length of the new government’s tenure will depend more on Netanyahu’s legal troubles than on the political dynamics of the coalition.


Given such a dismal U.S. record on non-proliferation, why should North Korea trust U.S. promises of future sanctions relief and security guarantees in exchange for denuclearization? If anything, the case of the JCPOA has demonstrated that regardless of its pledges the United States can reinstate sanctions and even bully private multinational companies to divest from Iran.


As Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler Mohammad bin Salman clamor for a war against Iran, they seem to have conveniently forgotten the destruction and mayhem wrought by the American invasion of Iraq 16 years ago.


President Trump’s announcement that he would recognise Israeli sovereignty over the western part of the Golan Heights destroys the negotiating basis for any future peace between Israel and Syria. It also lays the groundwork for a return to a world without territorial integrity for smaller, weaker countries.


The Senate on Wednesday passed a measure mandating the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Saudi/UAE-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The vote marks the first time since the War Powers Act of 1973 became law that both chambers of Congress have directed the president to withdraw American forces from a conflict.


The Trump administration’s failed “maximum pressure” approach to Iran and North Korea begs the question what the US president’s true objectives are and what options he is left with should the policy ultimately fail.


In the United States, it’s possible to debate any and every policy, domestic and foreign, except for unquestioning support for Israel. That, apparently, is Ilhan Omar’s chief sin.


RightWeb
share