Trump’s Casual Cruelty
Dylan Matthews explains how Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim countries is nothing more than a political stunt for his followers on vox.com.
The reasons for Trump’s ban on refugees could not be more feeble, and could not be more petty. It serves no actual security purpose. You have a better chance of getting killed by a train, or by your own clothes catching on fire, than by an immigrant terrorist attack. The odds of a refugee killing you in a terrorist strike are about 1 in 3.6 billion. That’s about four hundred times less likely than being hit by lightning twice. If you look back at significant terrorist attacks in the US like San Bernardino or the Pulse nightclub shooting or 9/11, exactly none of them would have been prevented by this policy.
And yet security is the weak reed upon which backers of this policy are justifying the enormous cruelty they’re inflicting upon their victims, victims who include 500,000 permanent residents of America and millions more who will be left to die in war zones or to face oppression from their home governments, or to drown in the sea as they fail to flee in makeshift rafts and boats. “Our number one responsibility is to protect the homeland. … This is why we passed bipartisan legislation in the wake of the Paris attacks to pause the intake of refugees,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement praising the refugee ban.
Maybe Ryan and Trump really are this deluded, and really do think in the face of all evidence to the contrary that this measure will somehow make America safer. Maybe they’re motivated by simple bigotry against Muslims.
But the seductive quality of public cruelty is that it needn’t matter. You don’t need to be motivated by sadism or bigotry or some other base, inhuman impulse. The sheer distance from your victims makes it possible to inflict horrors you never would’ve imagined yourself capable of committing face-to-face.
Kevin Drum points out other salient details on Mother Jones.
As near as I can tell, Trump is treating his executive orders the same way he treats his tweets: they’re designed as communiques to his fans, and that’s about it. The actual consequences hardly matter.
Not a single Muslim extremist from any of the seven designated countries has ever committed an act of terrorism on American soil. But residents of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, and other US “allies” are exempt, even though their citizens have committed acts of terrorism here. By coincidence, these are also countries where Trump has commercial interests.
Cross-posted from The Sensible Center