The stated reason for President Trump’s Immigration Ban Executive Order has always been safety. Ensuring the safety of the American people is an important goal of any President. This particular EO has received a great deal of criticism for not actually advancing America towards that goal on the basis that there are no deaths on American soil from anyone from the seven countries on the banned list going back to 1975. The White House seems to be countering with the idea that there are attacks we just aren’t thinking of.
It started Thursday the 2nd when White House spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway said this on to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, “I bet there was very little coverage — I bet — I bet it’s brand-new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country were radicalized and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre.”
She later claimed it was a slip of the tongue and she meant “Bowling Green Terrorists” but it was also revealed that she had cited the Bowling Green Massacre twice in interviews on January 29th, once with Cosmopolitan Magazine and once with TMZ. She in fact went further with Cosmo, ““He did that because two Iraqi nationals came to this country, joined ISIS, traveled back to the Middle East to get trained and refine their terrorism skills and come back here, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre of taking innocent soldiers’ lives away.” The thing is that no one lost their lives. The two individuals in question were caught and convicted of attempting to smuggle arms out of the country to ISIS. It’s doubtful any lives were lost because of their actions.
President Trump continued insisting that fear itself is not the only thing we have to fear. Monday February 6th he spoke before US Military commanders at MacDill Air Force Base. You can read the full transcript here. He began the speech with, “Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much. It’s so nice. A lot or spirit. Great spirit for this country. Thank you all. We have tremendous spirit, and I want to thank you. We had a wonderful election, didn’t we? And I saw those numbers, and you liked me, and I liked you. That’s the way it worked.” It isn’t relevant to this blog post at all, but I still can’t believe the first thing he continues to bring up in speeches and to calls with foreign leaders is the election.
Later in the speech he made the comment that people have been talking about, “You’ve seen what happened in Paris and Nice. All over Europe it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that.” Trump has had a…contentious…relationship with the press, but accusing them of covering up terrorists attacks was a new one, so obviously people wanted to know more.
Sean Spicer later clarified Trump meant things were under reported not unreported. He also said the White House would release a list of examples of times it felt the media should have given more time to an incident. Well they released the list and it’s as notable for what’s on it as what’s missing. I looked everywhere for the original white house document, but couldn’t find it. If you scroll to the bottom of this article though, it includes an unedited list.
The list included 78 domestic and international attacks between the dates of September 2014 and December 2016. No rational was given for the selection process for these incidents.
- Extremely well reported attacks like San Bernardino, Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, and the 2015 Paris attacks. Each of these incidents received weeks worth of coverage, so putting them on this list seems strange.
- Thirty-nine incidents in which no one was killed. That’s a full half of the list is non fatal attacks. You can definitely have a terrorist action without fatalities, but this does make some of the deadly attacks in the last two years conspicuous in their absence, more on that in a moment.
- Two incidents which have no connection at all to Muslim extremism, the bombing of a Sikh Temple in Germany which wounded three committed by Salafists and a French national killing his British roommate and Hostel caretaker in Australia. Just like in point two, terrorism doesn’t have to be from one source, but these being on the list tells us that this was meant to inspire overall fear instead of it being specifically just about the Muslim ban.
- Typos. Seriously, multiple typos. The words ‘attack’ and ‘attacks’ are spelled ‘attak’ and ‘attaks’ a combined total of 12 times. More painful was their misspelling of San Bernardino. I’ll admit San Bernardino is not spelled the way you’d think, but even spell check would catch attack vs attak.
- In total, 24 nations were represented as locations of attacks on the list, but left out was Israel. This seems particularly odd given how many incidents of varying degrees they suffer on a regular basis.
- The Quebec Mosque shooting in Canada which killed six, the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting which killed three, and the Charleston Church shooting which killed nine were all absent. They all fit within the time frame of the list and had more casualties than over half the list. If the list is about terrorist attacks not getting the coverage they deserve, the fact that Trump has made no direct comment on the Quebec Mosque shooting seems to go counter to his desire to make us all more aware of how death is lurking around the corner and will strike at any moment. If the list included only attacks committed by Muslim extremists, then there could be an argument not to include these other incidents, but since there were other terrorist sources, why not these?
This list strikes me as the classic example of finding facts to back up your conclusions when we all know it should be the other way around. Plenty of incidents on this list received months of coverage and the fact that no one even bothered to proof read it before releasing it shows this was something thrown together to try to justify the language of the President.
As a final note, please remember, you shouldn’t feel like death by terrorist is right around the corner for you. Your odds of dying at the hands of a refugee on US soil is 1 in 3.6 billion. Your odds of winning the powerball jackpot is 1 in 292 million. If we go by incidents, we have this chart put together by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism showing total attacks and the percentage of those that are fatal.
Sorry that data only goes to 2011 and not something more recent. You are currently living in arguably the safest decade in all of human history and despite Trump’s statements to the contrary, our media still goes by the mantra of ‘If it bleeds it leads’. It’s in fact so easy for people to believe we are living in a dangerous time because of the abundance of reporting of global terror incidents. Fears like this have historically been used to divide a people and it saddens me to see the President and key spokespeople being the ones to stoke those emotions.