Part 2 is specifically about Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US. In this part, I discuss how the proposal is logical but unjustifiable, how it was arrived at and how it reflects on Trump’s judgement.
To start, let’s be clear, there is a logical consistency to this proposed ‘policy’. Regardless how immoral, ridiculous or impractical you think it is.
Very simply it is as follows: If all Islamic fundamentalist terrorists are Muslim, than by excluding all Muslims, by definition, you exclude Islamic fundamentalists. This is a simple logic that cannot be denied.
This is important to point out if we are going give full and fair hearing to both sides of the argument. It is particularly important in the midst of divisive politics. We must have respect for the straightforward thinking Idaho potato farmer, as we do for the nuanced New York liberal. We should not make the mistake of thinking people are total aliens simply because we disagree with them! That we can see some understandable logic in their position.
The proposal to ban Muslims is reflective of the simple and straight forward thinking of the stereotypical Trump supporter! This is the rough and ready policy thinking of working America.
Although it has a straight forward cowboy logic which is valuable in terms of clarity and action, it is simplistic.
People have decried his proposal to ban Muslims as unethical, as racist. Which ultimately it is. But I don’t believe the ultimate intent is racist. Rather, Trump and his supporters see a problem, see a simple solution and don’t much care about the consequences of their solution.
What this proposal shows more than anything is Trump’s tendency to react rashly, proposing solutions that vastly outsize the scope of the problem. Trump really is the White House version of a construction labourer (which I once was), three beer down, making policy proposals to the TV after a rough day.
Is our construction worker, a racist? You could imply that. To me, our construction worker is tired of talk of an apparently impending terrorist threat. He sees the presented potential solutions as unnecessarily complex particularly given the gravity of the situation.
Is he racially insensitive? Yes. Strictly racist, not the vast majority of Trump supporters. Is Trump racist? Not really, I just don’t think he gives a shit about anything other the immediate success of whatever he has his mind on. Which is probably the bigger concern.
But, let’s be honest, you’ve probably witnessed more racism from your granny, than you witness of Trump supporters.
Now, let me say something shocking, in order to get a viciously strong handle on this debate. If the USA had WW3 with France, I would be okay with a policy that shut down all travel/immigration from France. How does that strike you? Is that so bad?
Let me push it further. I would be okay with some surveillance of French nationals (and French people not born in the USA) within the USA, restrictions on French nationals in sensitive positions within government and industry and possibly even relocation of French people within the USA. The US government would have to fully compensate them for the suspension of their human rights. But that is why governments have war time powers. To suspend your human rights when necessary. What, did you think human rights and civil liberties were infinite under all conditions?
Now right here is a juncture. If you disagree with me so much so that you could never even contemplate supporting the restriction of civil liberties for the nationals of a country you are at war with, then don’t bother reading the rest of this post. You’re frame of reference excludes you from ever understanding why harsh but vital decisions are made.
I’ll just remind you though, that an infinite commitment to human rights and civil liberties even in the face of mortal danger is to put those same rights at peril. In my opinion, you’re a child living in a world of sunshine and soap bubbles.
This example of French nationals is important because I believe Trump supporters see the proposal to ban Muslims as being very similar. They appear to believe the US is at war with Muslims. For them the example of WW3 with France is similar to the current conflict with fundamentalist Islam. They’re of course wrong. Specifically, Trump has supersized the scope of the issue, and his ‘solution’, to say the least, doesn’t fit.
The US, together with the Western world, is at war with fundamentalist Islam, not Islam itself. This being a very important, practical, symbolic and moral distinction.
But the importance here of the French example is to point out the likely thinking of Trump supporters. They see a war, they see an enemy and they see a simple solution that appears to make sense.
I get it. I don’t think we should be so quick to impart a racist motivation here. Had we really been at war with all Muslims, the policy would make sense. But we’re not, and it is highly dangerous to suggest we are.
The question of whether or not the policy is justifiable completely hinges on the question as to whether one has good cause to restrict the rights of a certain group. If that certain group can be reasonably identified as a threat to national security than the policy is justifiable, if they cannot than the policy is unjustified.
Trump is wrong because he has totally misjudged the scope of the problem and therefore his policy is unjustifiable. I am reluctant to say it is motivated by racism. But because the policy cannot be justified by national security reasons, it’s hard to see what else the motivation would be, if the policy was pursued.
I actually didn’t even want to get into a discussion about the moral implications of his proposed ban on Muslims. I just wanted to write it off as impossible both in terms of political feasibility and as practicality.
Which indeed it is. It is beyond the pale. It is pure idiocy. The degree of damage he has done in terms emboldening and strengthening the moral justification for terrorism is incalculable. The potential consequences in terms of American and Western blood spilt is obvious. The likelihood of him being able to implement such a policy is nil.
So why say it? I can only guess that he truly believes that whatever comes into his head is pure gold, much like the rest of the nicknacks he surrounds himself with. Secondly, through such comments he reinforces the identification his supporters have with him. This was of crucial importance for his campaign. He said ridiculous things, but things nonetheless, that his supporters strongly identified with.
Proposal to ban Muslims = an issue, not because it necessarily identifies Trump as a racist, but because it shows he says and does rash things. A propensity that we must suppose will continue into his Presidency, with very grave implications.