News media outlets such as The Huffington Post claimed that Trump pledged to ban all Muslims—1.6 billion people—from entering the United States.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED:
After the FBI had said that it could not vet Syrian refugees, to determine whether any were ISIS terrorists, and, after radicalized Muslim terrorists had shot 498 people in Paris, plus 38 in San Bernardino, killing 144 innocent persons, Trump rashly proposed to temporarily prevent “Muslim Immigration.” His discriminatory proposal, if enacted, would have obstructed or delayed the entrance, per month, of roughly 13,000 Muslims seeking to become permanent U.S. residents. Trump said, however, that his temporary ban would still allow other Muslims to enter the United States, including: traveling Muslim American citizens, Muslims living in the U.S., Muslim American soldiers, foreign Muslim businesspersons, foreign Muslim diplomats, foreign Muslim athletes, and other exceptions.
The news media had falsely reported that Trump “called for” the creation of a national Muslim registry. But when reporters said that Trump “called for” a shutdown of Muslim immigration it was very true. Why did this event happen? And how did the media report it?
The United States aims to be a country of religious freedom. But most Americans do not view all religions equally. In September 2015, for example, a telephone survey conducted by Rasmussen Polls found that 51% of likely voters said that they would not vote for a Muslim President of the U.S. Only 28% said that they would support a Muslim president.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the only African American candidate for President in 2015, a Republican, voiced the same feeling. Candidate Ben Carson said, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.” Carson argued that a person’s religious beliefs should not be inconsistent with American principles.
Despite widespread criticism of Carson’s comments, his campaign received markedly more donations following his discriminatory comments. A campaign adviser remarked: “The response is overwhelming.”
The same Rasmussen survey of 1,000 likely voters found that 75% said that the media is more interested in creating controversies about presidential candidates than in reporting where they stand on the issues. And 71% viewed political correctness as a present problem in America.
Three months later, candidate Donald Trump seized the opportunity to be politically incorrect by expressing his own distrust of certain Muslims.
On December 7, 2015, Trump’s campaign issued a written statement about “Preventing Muslim Immigration.” The statement began: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
It was promptly quoted and paraphrased by many news outlets. The Hill reported that they asked Trump’s campaign “whether that would include American Muslims currently abroad.” The Hill reported that a campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, replied by email, writing: “Mr. Trump says, ‘everyone.’”
Likewise, John Santucci of ABC News tweeted that “Trump’s campaign manager says ban applies to ‘everyone’ including tourists. Trump will discuss in SC speech tonight.”
Trump's campaign manager says ban applies to "everyone" including tourists. Trump will discuss in SC speech tonight https://t.co/17eMVnyTKo
— John Santucci (@JTSantucci) December 7, 2015
Were these reports correct? Were they really conveying Trump’s own answers to questions from The Hill and ABC News? Or were Trump’s representatives voicing their impressions of what Trump meant? The official written statement referred to Muslim immigrants, yet these brief news reports stated “everyone.”
That evening, Trump was holding a campaign rally in South Carolina. Unlike some past rallies, he now held a sheet of paper with the statement he had prepared. Before reading it, he gave some explanatory context. He said:
“I wrote something today, that I think is very, very salient, very important, and probably not politically correct, but I don’t care, I don’t care.”
Trump said that a terrorist in California had been making bombs in an apartment. He was referring to the awful tragedy just five days earlier, when a radicalized Muslim married couple attacked roughly 80 persons attending a holiday party and training event at the Department of Public Health of San Bernardino County, California. The married couple, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, used semi-automatic pistols and rifles to ruthlessly shoot more than 100 bullets while people tried to escape; injuring 22 persons and killing 14. The terrorists also deployed three pipe bombs that failed to explode. Roughly 300 police officers and agents rushed to the event. More authorities chased the murderers. The two terrorists fired at least 81 rounds at them, injuring two officers. Meanwhile, 23 officers fired at least 440 rounds. Thus, the police managed to overwhelm the couple in the final shootout, killing them. The married couple had nearly 2,500 unused ammunition in their escape vehicle. The husband was a US citizen by birth, son of Pakistani immigrants, and his wife, originally born in Saudi Arabia, had entered the US on a fiancée visa with a passport from Pakistan, where she used to live.
Similarly, other terrorists plots had recently transpired. On the night of November 13-14, nine militant men acting for ISIL brutally murdered 130 persons in several public places in Paris and injured 368 others. The terrorists used assault rifles, grenades, and bombs on suicide belts. And, on November 15, the Wall Street Journal ran an article titled: “Thriving Black Market for Fake Syrian Passports Raises Concerns.” The terrorists in Paris had fought in the civil war in Syria. On November 17, a football match was cancelled in Hannover, Germany, as thousands of fans were evacuated from an arena, where five bombs had been set. Throughout many countries, more than 3,100 people were murdered in terrorist attacks during 2015.
Trump complained that “We have no idea who’s coming into our country. We have no idea if they love us or if they hate us. We have no idea if they want to bomb us.” Then he described polls “that I hated to look at” that allegedly showed hostilities from certain Muslims against Americans. He said that the survey found that 25% of Muslims surveyed agreed that violence against Americans was justified.
To be exact, in June of 2015, the Center for Security Policy commissioned a poll of 600 Muslim Americans. One question asked: “Violence against Americans here in the United States can be justified as part of the global jihad.” Reportedly, 25% of those Muslim Americans agreed with that statement. Although this was not a majority view, this high result seemed alarming. Of course, one might disagree with the poll, and ask whether that result represented the view of 25% of Muslims nationwide.
One reason to doubt whether the poll represented 25% of Muslims in the US was that it was an opt-in survey, that is, the 600 online participants had self-selected, rather than being chosen as individuals representative of most Muslims in the US.
In any case, Trump did not explain this at all. Instead, he just voiced his disgust at the (apparent) claim that 25% of Muslims in the US would endorse violence against other Americans.
Trump then began to read his written statement:
“The mainstream media wants to surrender the Constitution…” He fairly said that “some of the media is terrific.” But Trump repeatedly insisted that 70% or 75% of the media were “the worst,” “totally dishonest people,” “scum.”
He criticized news reporters for not filming and showing the large crowds at his rallies. He also criticized NBC reporter Katy Tur for having said that he left a speech early after being interrupted. Trump said it was a total lie and that another media group had exposed Tur’s lie.
Trump continued to interrupt his own written statement with multiple such digressions. He insisted that he wanted the terrorist group ISIS to surrender. And he finally returned to his prepared statement and complained about the news media: “And these people are going crazy. these people won’t report it properly.” And he said “remember the poll numbers: 25%, 51%…” Finally he read the statement:
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on! [The audience cheered, applauded, and whistled.] We have no choice! We have no choice. We have no choice. According to Pew Research, among others, there is a great hatred toward Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently a poll from Center for Security Policy released data showing 25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans —these are people that are here, by the way, people here, 25 not 1%, by the way 1% would be unacceptable, 1% is unacceptable.— 25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified, as part of the global jihad. They wanna change your religion. I don’t think so, I don’t think so, I don’t think so. Not gonna happen…”
One phrase needs some context: “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on!” This statement voiced frustration in response to admissions by the US intelligence community that they didn’t yet have systems for vetting refugees from Syria. For example, on October 21, 2015, the Director of the FBI had testified that the FBI lacked information in its databases to query information about Syrians.
Trump further complained that the same survey found that 51% of those Muslims polled wanted to be governed in the US according to Sharia, the traditional system of laws that is part of the religion of Islam. And Trump complained that Sharia authorized atrocities such as murder of non-believers, beheadings, and other awful acts that can greatly harm Americans, especially women, he said.
Anyhow, Trump loudly said that he was “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States…”
I remember where I was that day on December 7, 2015. I was at a fast food burger restaurant: a P. Terry’s in Austin, Texas, on North Lamar Boulevard. I was waiting for my order, and I remember the moment when I saw the news on my phone that Trump had said the words above.
I thought: “That’s it, he’s done, he’s finished!”
Just as soon as the latest, previous public uproar, whatever it was, was starting to pass, here was Trump needlessly saying something that seemed stunningly insensitive. Clearly he was annoyed that certain radical Islamic terrorists had killed Americans. Yet it sounded as if he therefore wanted to stop every single Muslim from entering the United States. I saw that tens of thousands of readers online were quickly writing comments in outrage over what Trump had said. It was a gushing, constant stream of complaints, thousands upon thousands.
Still, Trump voiced various caveats. He clarified that “by the way: I have friends who are Muslims, they’re great people. But they know we have a problem…” And he said: “don’t worry about [ethnic] profiling, I promise I will defend you from profiling.” And when a man in the audience protested, Trump said: “It’s alright. I’m sure he’s a nice person, I’m sure he can be reasoned with. Be very gentle,” with the protester. Trump also repeated his previous calls for surveillance of certain mosques in the U.S. “Yes, we have to look at mosques, and we have to respect mosques.”
Still, what Trump said sounded very offensive to me: “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States…” The underlying thinking seemed simplistic: how do we stop certain Muslim immigrants from committing acts of terrorism? By stopping the immigration of all Muslims. But this was a disproportionate reaction. Trump also exaggerated, by repeatedly saying: “We have no choice!”
The media’s reaction to Trump’s words was sheer horror.
But before discussing their reaction, let’s try to quantify what Trump’s statement actually meant; since Trump himself and the news reports did not do this.
Three days later, on December 10, 2015, only NBC News published a brief report fairly estimating the number of immigrants from a few Muslim majority countries in 2013. However, it just disregarded most of the Muslim immigrants entering the US. Likewise, other writers who critically responded to Trump’s comments about immigration, did not bother to answer the question:
How many Muslims immigrate into the US each year?
This information is not readily available because the US immigration agencies don’t ask immigrants to report their religion. Still, such information can be estimated by taking into account what percentage of each country’s citizens are Muslims.
Since I don’t find such information anywhere, I here prepared an estimate of how many Muslims became permanent US residents in 2015. In the second column, I use immigration data from 2015 from the Department of Homeland Security.
Total: Roughly 155,751 Muslims became permanent U.S. residents in 2015. Source: Data and estimates compiled by Alberto Martínez, based on data from the Department of Homeland Security and other sources.
Adding Muslim immigrants from other countries with smaller populations of Muslims, I would estimate that 157,000 Muslims became permanent residents of the United States in 2015. This means that roughly 13,000 Muslims became permanent US residents each month.
From 1975 to 2015 very few Muslims were convicted for having tried to carry out terrorist attacks in the U.S. For example, one researcher reports that just 6 Iranians, 6 Sudanese, 2 Somalis, 2 Iraqis, and 1 Yemeni were convicted for trying to carry out terrorist attacks in the U.S. How many of them were Muslims? I don’t know. But more importantly, we may consider incidents that involved actual murder. For example, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were carried out mainly by terrorists from Saudi Arabia, and caused the immediate deaths of 2,977 innocent people. The following table lists how many known terroristic murders have been committed by foreign-born terrorists in the U.S., from 1975 until 2015:
Data excerpted from: Alex Nowrasteh. https://www.cato.org/blog/guide-trumps-executive-order-limit-migration-national-security-reasons
The table above shows that the majority of murders carried out by foreign-born terrorists in the US have been carried out by individuals who originated from just five countries having large populations of Muslims: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Lebanon, and Pakistan. Thus it’s easy to see why Trump could think that certain Muslim immigrants were unusually dangerous, for being members of ISIS or ISIL, Al-Qaeda, etc.
However, notice that the latter table includes only five countries that were listed in my previous table of forty countries! Conspicuously missing from the list are some countries with large populations of Muslims, such as Iraq, Iran, Bangladesh, India, etc. Therefore, given that the great majority of Muslim immigrants arrive from many countries from which no such terrorists have been convicted of murdering anyone in the United States, Trump’s impulsive reaction to temporarily stop all immigration of Muslims from all countries was unwarranted.
Trump knew that immigration agencies cannot stop the entrance of all Muslim terrorists who are pretending not to be terrorists. However, he acted as if the US government might stop all such terrorists from entering the country mainly by just asking immigrants whether they’re Muslims.
Still, Trump emphasized that the interruption of Muslim immigration would be temporary. Thus we can now quantify how many Muslims would be prevented from entering the US, if Trump’s mandate could somehow be 100% effective.
Roughly 13,000 Muslims per month would be denied admission.
So, if this interruption of Muslim immigrants were to be applied during, say, three months, until the government authorities had implemented an improved vetting system, then roughly 39,000 Muslims would be delayed or stopped from entering the US.
News media outlets however, made no such numerical calculation. Instead, many of them operated under the alarmist notion that a proposed injustice against thousands of persons is an attack on all people of the same ethnic group. Thus, since Trump had recklessly proposed to temporarily interrupt Muslim immigration, this was portrayed by many reporters and commentators as a ban on all Muslims.
And apparently, the reporters had some reasons to think that Trump meant all Muslims, since two persons in his campaign had said that he meant “everyone.” But promptly, Trump himself denied it.
The day when Trump called for the “total and complete shutdown,” news commentator Greta Van Sustern interviewed him on Fox News. She asked him whether Muslim American serving in the US military overseas could return to the United States. Trump replied: “They’ll come home and we have to be vigilant and we have to take care of the Muslims that are living there…” Trump also told her: “Anybody here: stays. But we have to be very vigilant.”
Van Sustern also asked: “Does this apply to your Muslim friends? This complete shutdown?” Trump replied: “No, of course. This does not apply to people living in the country, except that we have to be vigilant. Because when you have people having pipe bombs all over their apartment [in San Bernardino] and other people see it and don’t report them, there’s something wrong, very seriously wrong. We have an obligation to protect our citizens…”
Similarly, in other interviews Trump voiced various “exceptions” to the suggested rule of temporarily stopping immigration of Muslims. For example, American Muslims would freely travel to and from the U.S., Muslim business people would come to the U.S., people coming “for instance for sporting events and other things; hopefully this wouldn’t take very long.”
Thus, Trump’s proposal was to temporarily interrupt immigration of Muslims, while continuing to welcome Muslim American citizens, Muslims living in the US, Muslim American soldiers, foreign Muslim businesspeople, Muslim diplomats, foreign Muslim athletes, etc., into the U.S. In short, his statement was not about Muslim Americans or all Muslim visitors but about immigration. You may still think it was an awful idea, but it was not a universal ban on Muslims.
Meanwhile, on that same night of December 7, the day when Trump made his announcement, CNN’s Don Lemon interviewed Katrina Pearson, the National Spokeswoman for Trump’s presidential campaign.
Don Lemon started by saying: “Donald Trump calling tonight to block all Muslims from entering the United States.”
This was an exaggeration, though Lemon had already seen Trump’s interview with Van Sustern. Yet the misleading statement was echoed on the screen, where CNN had a bold banner stating: “TRUMP: BAN ALL MUSLIMS FROM ENTERING U.S.”
Lemon began by asking a question to Katrina Pearson. He asked: “How would Trump implement his ban on Muslims entering the United States?” Again, this was an exaggeration, because Lemon did not say that Trump’s proposal was specifically about immigration.
Pearson replied: “Well I think we should probably clear up one thing, Don. Do you actually have the statement that was sent out in front of you today?”
Lemon replied: “I have the statement, the statement where he says all people entering, all Muslims entering the United States…”
Pearson: “Can you just do me a quick favor and read the subject line?
Lemon refused: “That’s why I have you there; go ahead and explain to me what you’re saying.”
But Pearson insisted: “I would like for you to read to your viewers what the subject line is. You have it in front of you, I don’t have it in front of me.”
Lemon: “I don’t have the subject.”
Finally, after not saying it five times, and after not including this key point in CNN’s bold caption on the screen, Don Lemon admitted that the subject header or title of Trump’s statement was about “Preventing Muslim Immigration.”
Pearson replied: “Immigration, that’s the key term, but from my understanding the—”
But then Lemon started to loudly speak over her: “But hang on; Katrina, Katrina, Katrina. Stop! Katrina, STOP!! KATRINAAA!!!”
But she continued: “Hold on Don, hold on, you guys are doing it again, you’re doing it again.”
Lemon spoke over her: “Please stop or I’m going to cut you off. Will you stop? No we’re not doing it again.”
Lemon claimed that he was very fair. But Pearson complained: “You’re saying ‘BAN complete, ALL MUSLIMS!!’ ”
In an stunning display of incoherence, Lemon argued that Trump’s policy “has nothing to do with the subject line.” He insisted: “No it doesn’t.” “No it doesn’t.”
Lemon’s position was ridiculous. He had invited the National Spokesperson for Trump but instead of letting her speak for Trump, he told her that Trump’s policy on immigration was not about its subject: Immigration.
Pearson explained: “This is not a complete ban on ALL Muslims coming into the country. This pertains to immigration, that’s why it’s in the subject, and that’s the context.”
But Don Lemon then laughed and said: “You’re arguing something that’s not there, Katrina.” Yet CNN itself had put a photo of Trump’s official statement on the screen, including the title: “DONALD J. TRUMP STATEMENT ON PREVENTING MUSLIM IMMIGRATION.” Pearson had even succeeded in getting Lemon to read it to the viewers. Yet nevertheless, Lemon was trying to strip the title, the context, in order to convert a controversial and troubling proposition (temporarily suspending immigration of Muslims) into an even worse proposal: banning ALL MUSLIMS from entering the United States.
Lemon eventually played an excerpt from Trump’s interview with Greta Van Sustern. Lemon also solicited the opinions of guest commentators who argued that Trump was “violating the Constitution as a political promise,” that he was “diabolical,” and spewing “crazy, hate-filled xenophobia.”
Then, Lemon turned to Pearson again, but warned her: “Katrina, I wanna tell you: if you’re going to come on, I need you to be honest with your thoughts and with your statements, and with the American people.”
She replied: “I was very honest.”
Lemon: “No you’re not being—hang on! You’re not being honest because you’re arguing about semantics, and you’re arguing about one sentence or whatever…”
But Katrina Pearson fairly insisted: “Context is important.”
The following morning, on December 8, the cover story of the Philadelphia Daily News featured a photograph of Trump with his right arm raised and his had open flat, with the incendiary title: “The New Furor,” as if to portray Trump as “The New Führer,” a new Adolf Hitler, doing the Nazi salute.
Also that morning, ABC News invited the head of the Council on American Islamic Relations as a guest commentator. And he too complained: “Trump sounds more like the leader of a lynch mob than a potential President.”
Likewise, Trump’s political rivals had promptly voiced critiques of Trump. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said that Trump was “unhinged.” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that Trump’s proposal was “ridiculous.” Ohio Governor John Kasich said it was “outrageous.” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said that Trump was “downright dangerous.” Hillary Clinton wrote that Trump was “reprehensible, prejudiced, and divisive.”
On ABC’s Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos interviewed Trump. He asked: “If an American citizen travels overseas, they’re a Muslim, they cannot come back?” Trump replied: “If a person is a Muslim, yet goes overseas and comes back, they can come back. They’re a citizen. That’s different.” And Trump insisted: “I don’t like doing it at all. It’s a temporary measure,” and again he spoke about the recent incident in which two terrorists killed people in San Bernardino.
Surprisingly, not everyone rejected Trump’s proposal. Promptly that day, on December 8, Bloomberg published the results of an overnight online poll showing that 65% of Republicans, in a sample group, said that they agreed with a temporary ban on Muslim immigration.
On December 9, Trump was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly on Fox News. Again, he tried to explain himself.
Also on December 9, Don Lemon interviewed Trump on CNN. Trump tried to downplay the fiery controversy by emphasizing that the interruption of Muslims immigrating would be temporary. He said it might be very brief: “It could go quickly, but you know what, it’s a subject that has to be discussed.” He also said that “of course there will be exceptions, you can’t keep people out like that, there would certainly be exceptions made,” such as for foreign Muslim athletes and diplomats.
At one point, Lemon voiced a question that echoed his heated exchange with Katrina Pearson. He asked Trump: “I know that you’re a stickler about language. You say that you’re often taken out of context. Let’s talk about this proposal, right. You adjusted it slightly so that it would say that American Muslims that are traveling overseas return to the country. This doesn’t apply to US citizens?”
The question shows that Don Lemon still refused to acknowledge that Trump’s statement, titled “STATEMENT ON PREVENTING MUSLIM IMMIGRATION,” was about Immigration. Lemon still refused to accept it even though Trump’s National Spokeswoman had painstakingly tried to get him to accept it, and had even succeeded in getting him to at least read it on the air. Lemon chose to imagine that it was about banning all Muslims from entering the US. Thus he asked the question as if Trump had changed his statement, so that now it “doesn’t apply to US citizens.”
Trump replied: “It never did. From day one it never did. I don’t know why people thought it did. This applies to people coming into the country, and all it is: is a break— ‘til our politicians who are grossly incompetent, by the way, can get their act together. And this has to do with Paris…”
Trump also denied that he was racist, bigoted or Islamophobic. He said “I have many friends who are Muslims, they’re phenomenal people.” And he repeated it: that he had many Muslim friends and Muslim business partners. He claimed that three Muslims had called him to say they were happy with what he said. He didn’t say their names.
His critics could imagine that such words were merely a self-serving, hypocritical effort to repair the damage caused by his call for a “complete and total shutdown of Muslims…” However, Trump had praised Muslims for a long time.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Trump also praised Muslims: “they’re such amazing people,” “phenomenal people,” “I love the Muslims.”
In a previous interview, in October, Trump had already told Don Lemon at Trump Tower: “by the way, most Muslims, I know many, are great people, just so you put it on the record.” He said that just “a certain segment, certainly are a problem,” so he cited ISIS, and the beheadings and drownings of captives. Trump anticipated that CNN would not focus on his praise for Muslims: “you probably won’t put this part: I have great friendships with many people who are Muslims, living here. But I have great friendships, they’re phenomenal people, and most of them are like that.”
Also, on September 22, Trump had told the CBS Evening News that as President he “would welcome Muslims in his administration.” And he said: “I love the Muslims; I have many, many friends, people living in this building—Muslims—they’re phenomenal people.”
And previously, in an interview with CBN, in 2011, Trump had also said that “many, many, most Muslims are wonderful people.” Yet he also voiced a negative impression: “there’s a lot of hate in the Koran.”
Similarly, some people, who don’t believe in the Bible, voice annoyance at instances where the Bible portrays God as wrathful, vengeful, or say, where it instructs people to murder women who have sex before marriage: “she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death” (Deuteronomy 22:21).
Thus, before and after his offensive and controversial proposal, Trump praised Muslims. But his words did not undo the way in which he had proposed to discriminate against Muslims, even if such discrimination were temporary.
Many people, including leaders of foreign countries, continued to denounce Trump for what he said. Many politicians interpreted Trump’s words in the worst possible way. For example, on December 19, here’s what Senator Bernie Sanders said that Trump said: “We hate all the Muslims, because all of the Muslims are terrorists. We’ve gotta hate the Muslims.”
But Trump never said that. Many people said that “Trump wants to ban all Muslims from America.” Those would be truly horrible things to say. But is that really what Trump meant?
Despite all exaggerations by the media and his rivals, Trump kept trying to make his points. On December 13, on Fox News, he insisted again: “I know the Muslims. I’m partners with Muslims. They’re friends of mine. They’re very smart, they’re great people.”
On December 23, Trump was interviewed by Jake Tapper. Trump said that the problem was “radical Islam,” adding that “ISIS has gotten ahold of a passport printing machine for the migrants, to get them into the United States. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not, it’s an early report.” And he kept emphasizing that his proposal was a temporary solution.
Trump said: “I hear that ISIS has now a passport machine to make false passports, counterfeit passports…”
On January 10, 2016, on NBC News with Chuck Todd, Trump again mentioned exceptions to his proposed ban on Muslims entering the US: “you let certain people come in, if they’re businesspeople, if they’re proven…”
Nevertheless, despite any clarifications, even in the title of Trump’s original, official statement, many media sources persisted in misconstruing his bizarre proposal in the worst possible way.
The Huffington Post decided to include an alarmist note in most articles about Trump, stating that Trump “pledged to ban all Muslims—1.6 billion members of an entire religion—from entering the U.S.” But this was false.
In contradistinction, my analysis quantifies what Trump’s ugly and disturbing statement really meant: that roughly 13,000 Muslims seeking to become permanent residents would be delayed from entering the US each month, allegedly for a brief period of time (while Muslim Americans and foreign Muslim businesspeople, diplomats, athletes, and other exceptions, would continue to enter the U.S.).
Personally, I do dislike and reject the latter statement, but the false one described by the Huffington Post was immensely worse. During the elections, I made no such numerical analysis, but I clearly sensed that news media such as the Huffington Post were grossly exaggerating. As usual, many writers in the media fervently exaggerated Trump’s words and were then horrified. But note that it was about words. After all, Trump had not actually banned anyone. He was merely a candidate voicing ideas.
As usual, the media did not report that, as a matter of fact, hundreds of thousands of Muslims are blocked from entering the United States every year. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services receives and adjudicates around 6 million petitions and applications for immigration.
Roughly one million of those individuals become “lawful permanent residents.”
This means that 5 million persons per year are excluded. Since 24% of the population in the world are Muslims, we may assume that, say, 20% of applicants for US immigration are Muslims. If so, that’s roughly 1,000,000 Muslims per year.
Therefore, while I estimate that some 157,000 Muslims are granted green cards, roughly 843,000 Muslims are denied permanent residence in the United States per year.
As usual, the news commentators were horrified by Trump’s reckless campaign words. But they reported or expressed virtually no concern about how many Muslims are denied entry into the United States every year. Perhaps they were not excluded because of their religion, but they were excluded nonetheless.
Alberto A. Martinez is a professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin.
Next, Chapter 16: “She got schlonged, she lost”