Americans are vastly more likely to find employment with a Muslim refugee than to be killed by one. They are in fact much likelier to be killed by cows, fireworks and malfunctioning elevators than an immigrant terrorist.
Cows kill 20 Americans every year on average. (Source) Yes, cows are twenty times more lethal than sharks, bears, or alligators. In 2015 toddlers in the U.S. killed more Americans than foreign terrorists.(Source) There were 301,797 firearm-related deaths in the past decade, compared to 71 deaths from domestic acts of terrorism. (Source) As a means of keeping Americans safe, Mr Trump’s order is almost worthless.
The reputational damage done to America by Mr Trump’s action will be dangerous, as well as large. The attributes that make America attractive to migrants—its openness, fairness and opportunity—are also among its most effective security mechanisms. They help explain why America is at once the most desirable destination for migrants and less prone to jihadist violence than almost any other country with a large Muslim population. By singling out Muslims for discrimination—including a group currently detained at John F. Kennedy airport in New York who had risked their lives working with Americans in Iraq—Mr Trump’s order is a repudiation of these American strengths.
Worsening the damage, he also signalled, in an interview with a Christian television channel, that the ban would not apply to Christians. Syrian Christians, claimed Mr Trump, were “horribly treated” by his predecessor. “If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible,” he said. “I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.” This was not merely incendiary but untrue: last year America accepted 37,521 Christian refugees and 38,901 Muslims.
Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, suggested the ban went too far: “If we send a signal to the Middle East that the US sees all Muslims as jihadis, the terrorist recruiters win.” But this was a rare exception. Most Republicans have either stayed silent or welcomed the ban. Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, was among its fans: “We are a compassionate nation, and I support the refugee resettlement programme, but it’s time to reevaluate and strengthen the visa vetting process,” he said. This is a bad moment for America.
Trump is proof evident of the old joke about politicians. “When do you know a politician is lying? When he’s lips are moving!”