The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump’s Proposed Muslim Immigration Moratorium Is the Wrong Response to Political Correctness

I completely get the fury over political correctness. I completely understand that the aristocratic political, media, and academic establishment have been lying to us about Islam and the Muslim world for more than fourteen years. As I explain at length on the home page, it’s simply not the case that Islam is a peaceful, tolerant faith plagued by a tiny few extremists. Rather, Islam has massive problem with hate and bigotry – with hundreds of millions of Muslims supporting the worst kinds of religious intolerance and tens of millions more outright terrorist sympathizers. In the refugee controversy, I’ve repeated over and over that it’s foolish to admit a class of refugees when we know the world’s leading terror army is attempting to infiltrate the displaced masses or recruit from their ranks. We can be compassionate without making ourselves vulnerable. 

But the correct response to political correctness isn’t to simply take the opposite position, to answer one form of unthinking ideology with another. By tacking to the opposite of Obama’s scolding self-righteousness, Trump isn’t charting his own course so much as merely reacting. In fact, now that he’s “clarified” that he’s not just talking about immigration but a moratorium on all Muslim entry to the United States, he’s gone well beyond being the anti-Obama and has reacted straight into foolishness.

Off the top of their heads, even the most hawkish national security conservatives can identify multiple categories of Muslims who should have access to the United States, beginning — of course — with our own citizens. There are many others. What about the interpreters who’ve laid down their lives to serve our warriors downrange and now find themselves under imminent threat from jihadists? What about members of allied militaries who are training to be the Muslim “boots on the ground” that we need to help take the fight to the enemy? Do we treat the Kurds — who are sheltering so many of Iraq’s Christians while also providing the most effective fighting force against ISIS — the same as we treat suspected terrorists? It makes no sense.

On the merits of Trump’s proposal, I agree with Ben Shapiro:

Kiss Our Intelligence Apparatus Goodnight. We need to work with Muslims both foreign and domestic. It’s one thing to label Islamic terrorism and radical Islam a problem. It’s another to label all individual Muslims a problem. That’s what this policy does. It’s factually wrong and ethically incomprehensible. Donald Trump has just transformed into the strawman President Obama abused on Sunday night.

There is nothing wrong with closing our borders to select groups when confronted with actionable intelligence or to place some groups under greater scrutiny because of known threats. But to treat every single Muslim as a threat, regardless of whether they’re from Raqqa, Erbil, Cairo, or Des Moines — and regardless of whether they’ve tweeted jihadist threats or bled on the battlefield alongside our troops — is to act mindlessly. I would also say Trump is acting maliciously, but I don’t think Trump despises Muslims as much as he loves leading the news cycle. This is a political stunt and should be treated as such. 

I often speak to audiences on college campuses and elsewhere about the proper response to PC nonsense. I call the formula “apathetic, informed conviction.” When formulating cultural or political opinions, one must be completely apathetic to PC pressures — don’t react against or capitulate to leftist browbeating. Instead, educate yourself and act through informed conviction. Respond to unreason with reason, to intimidation with a bored shrug, and speak truth even when the truth is unpleasant. In this instance, however, Donald Trump is the voice of attention-seeking reaction, not principled leadership. 

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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