Today’s takes on Trump and the “Muslim ban”

Trump has really stepped in it with his executive orders on immigration. As I wrote yesterday, they’re reprehensible and may actually violate the First Amendment’s prohibition against discrimination on religious grounds. Around the U.S., and around the world, people are rising in protest, and I wonder what The Donald and his advisors are thinking now?

One take from New Zealand is given by reader Heather Hastie in a post on her website called “Why Trump’s refugee ban is stupid.” She raises many problems with Trump’s order, one of which is that the “Muslim-country ban” isn’t likely to have much of an effect on terrorism, at least given the past history of Islamist terrorism in the U.S., which, by and large, has been committed by those who weren’t refugees, were Americans themselves, or were from countries not on the “ban” list:

. . . . it is previous terrorist attacks, especially 9/11, that are the basis for the order. The problem is, the countries those terrorists came from are not the ones the order bans. Most terrorists US citizens that were radicalized at home. The others come from countries others than the seven in question.

Origin of US Terrorists

An analysis of the worst terrorists illustrates this point:

The 9/11 attackers came from Saudi Arabia (19), the United Arab Emirates (2), Egypt (1), and Lebanon (1). The Boston bombers were born in Russia and brought up in the United States; their parents were not refugees but asylum seekers. The Florida nightclub shooter was born in New York, the son of immigrants from Afghanistan. The couple who perpetrated the San Bernardino terrorist massacre were also not refugees. The husband was a USian born in Chicago (his parents were immigrants from Pakistan) and his wife was born in Pakistan though lived most of her life with her wealthy family in Saudi Arabia. She was admitted to the US as the wife of a citizen. Major Nidal Hasan, who killed thirteen fellow soldiers at Fort Hood was born in Arlington County, Virginia, the son of Palestinian immigrants.

Not a refugee in sight, and no mention of the countries Trump has targeted.


Over on his website, Sam Harris has written on the same issue: “A few thoughts on the ‘Muslim ban’“. He makes seven points (his words indented):

1. I did everything I could to make the case against Trump prior to the election (while many of the liberals now attacking me for enabling his “Islamophobia” actively undermined the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, even in the final days of the campaign).

2. I think Trump’s “Muslim ban” is a terrible policy. Not only is it unethical with respect to the plight of refugees, it is bound to be ineffective in stopping the spread of Islamism. As many have pointed out, it is also internally inconsistent: It doesn’t include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, or Lebanon, any of which has been a more fertile source of jihadist terrorism than several of the countries Trump named.

3. However, most of what is being said in opposition to Trump’s order is thoroughly contaminated by identity politics and liberal delusion. The Left seems determined to empower the Right by continuing to lie about the problem of Islamism. As David Frum recently wrote, “When liberals insist that only fascists will defend borders, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals won’t do.” I have been saying as much for more than a decade—and am vilified by my fellow liberals whenever I do.

4. It is perfectly possible—and increasingly necessary—to speak about the ideological roots of Islamism and jihadism, and even about the unique need for reform within mainstream Islam itself, without lapsing into bigotry or disregarding the suffering of refugees. Indeed, when one understands the problem for what it is, one realizes that secular Muslims, liberal Muslims, and former Muslims are among the most desirable allies to have in the West—and, indeed, such people are the primary victims of Islamist intolerance and jihadist terror in Muslim-majority countries.

5. If liberals who refuse to speak honestly on these topics continue to march with Islamists, denigrate free speech, and oppose the work of the real reformers in the Muslim community, they will only further provoke and empower Trump. And Trump, in turn, will empower Islamists the world over by threatening the civil liberties of all Muslims within his reach.

6. The next acts of jihadist terrorism to take place on American soil will most likely be met with terrifyingly blunt (and even illegal) countermeasures by the Trump administration. If all that liberals can do in response is continue to lie about the causes of terrorism and lock arms with Islamists, we have some very rough times ahead.

7. If you are listening to obscurantists like Linda Sarsour, Dalia Mogahed, Reza Aslan, and representatives of CAIR, and denigrating true secularists and reformers like Maajid Nawaz, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Raheel Raza, and Sarah Haider, you are part of the problem.

I agree with nearly all of this, especially #4 and #7. In the well-meaning rush to condemn true “Islamophobia”—bigotry against Muslims simply because they are Muslims—many progressives are joining forces with regressive Muslims who defend things like the oppression of women (symbolized by the hijab) and sharia law, while continuing to demonize Muslim reformers like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz (this demonization still defies me).

Harris’s point #3—that progressives shouldn’t lose sight of the dangers of radical Islamism and start going all starry-eyed about the tenets a repressive faith—is what Harris means by “identity politics”.  I’ve written before about how Democratic politicians’ refusal to use the “I-word,” and I think it’s to our detriment.  Nevertheless, P. Z. Myers, who’s never met an atheist more renowned than he whom he hasn’t smeared, goes after Harris, and after point #3 in particular, in a post on his website this morning: “‘Identity politics’ is racist code” (Steve Pinker also gets a slap in passing).

Myers’ post is just one more in his continuing attempt to smear Harris as a racist, despite the reasonableness of the 7 points above. Myers goes on about Harris quoting David Frum (who cares what Frum’s political background is if his quote is trenchant?), adding that “Identity politics” is not just “racist code,” but a far right dog whistle. As Myers claims, “the only identity politics being practiced is a refusal to accept the privileges of being a white man — the only division being fomented here is between a larger vision of a united humanity and the bigotry of the status quo.”

That’s simply not true. What Harris is maintaining, and has maintained, is that the racism of low expectations—glossing over the unsavory bits of extremist Islam simply because Muslims are seen as oppressed “people of color”—is detrimental and anti-progressive. While you can argue against that, what you can’t say is that using the word “identity politics” to mean “the fracturing of the Left based on things like race and religion” is a far right tactic that instantiates and enables racism. As I’ll show below, identity politics has fractured feminism as well—and that’s not white men.

By the way, although Myers calls out Pinker for saying that the proposed Scientists’ March on Washington not only showed extreme identity politics, but was “anti-science,” in his tweet Pinker was actually responding to a different statement appearing earlier at the March website. That statement, which has mysteriously vanished, called science a racist and sexist enterprise, and that is anti-science. It can be found here, and is much more militant and uncompromising than the statement Myers reproduced, which, mirabile dictu, has also mysteriously vanished from the Scientists’ March website.


While I approved of the Women’s March on Washington against Trump, and thought it went off well (it was a paradigm of mass, peaceful protest), I couldn’t approve of two aspects of identity politics that infected that march: the idolization of the dubious Linda Sarsour as one of its heads and the adulation for the hijab, as shown on the march’s poster by Shepard Fairey. Fairey is the guy who did Obama’s famous “Hope” poster shown just below:


Fairey also produced a poster for the Women’s March, shown on the right below. That I don’t find so wonderful, as it not only uses as a symbol of the American woman a hijabi, wearing a garment that symbolizes women’s oppression, but the hijab is also an American flag, supposedly the symbol of freedom and equality.

Eiynah of the “Nice Mangos” website has her own interpretations of Farley’s poster. Here’s one in a tw**t

And two more:

hijabglorification-03 hijabglorification-02

Eiynah, like Sam, finds it necessary in these Trumpian times to defend her stand against Islam while still defending the rights of Muslim refugees. This dilemma is again result of identity politics on the Left:

As a woman who grew up under Sharia in Saudi Arabia, I cannot help but resist the glorification of the tools of my oppression.

As much as I loathe Trump, and the chaos he’s creating, as much as I stand in solidarity with Muslims at this time….as much as I am personally affected by discrimination against Muslims myself…I cannot sit back and watch conservative Islam be championed in this complex and toxic political climate.

I ask my fellow critics of religion to be particularly cautious at this time not to feed into far right narratives of hate…. similarly, I ask my fellow left leaning liberals not to fall into romanticizing conservative Islam. It’s like walking a tightrope, I understand – but the more we avoid falling into traps on either side…the better equipped we will be to combat this.

As I said, identity politics has led not only the progressive left to align itself with conservatives on some issues, but also led the regressive left to align itself with Islamists. Linda Sarsour is one of those Islamists, and should under no circumstances be idolized. If you think “identity politics”, as PZ claims, amounts to “racist code”, please note that Sarsour, as noted by Emma-Kate Symons in The Washington Post, not only has a history of advocating sharia law, but also prohibited pro-life women from participating in the march. If that prohibition—which has nothing to do with white men but is simply a purity test—isn’t identity politics in a “women’s march,” I don’t know what is.  Symons’s take:

The emphasis on a particular perspective regarding religion appears to have something to do with one of the march’s lead organizers. Linda Sarsour is a religiously conservative veiled Muslim woman, embracing a fundamentalist worldview requiring women to “modestly” cover themselves, a view which has little to do with female equality and much more of a connection with the ideology of political Islam than feminism. Could we imagine a wig-wearing Orthodox woman emerging from a similar “purity”-focused culture predicated on sexual segregation and covering women, headlining such an event? No, because she is rightly assumed to be intensely conservative, not progressive on issues surrounding women’s roles and their bodies. Bizarrely, however, it is Sarsour, who has taken a high-profile role speaking about ordering pro-life women out of the march, after a bitter dispute over the initial participation of a Texas anti-abortion group. In justifying the decision, the co-organizer invoked the liberal language of choice, despite her association with an illiberal ideology that many Muslim women say is all about men controlling their bodies, and taking away that choice on a range of issues including reproductive health.

And why is a woman seen wearing a heavy veil pulled up tight to cover her neck — not even a headscarf — emerging as the symbol of the rally? Yes, Trump is singling out Muslims but must we play his reductionist game? Muslim women are a diverse group. Such a vision purposefully excludes non-veiled Muslim women, who make up the majority of American Muslims, and all feminists who champion a woman’s right to be free from the degrading virgin-whore dichotomy that has afflicted them since most of the world’s great religions blamed women for tempting men.

Such is the conundrum in which the Left finds itself. While chafing under an authoritarian and unhinged President who is demonizing Muslims, we must take care that, while harshly criticizing his stands, we not go overboard and get all starry-eyed about one of the world’s most repressive faiths.


  1. GBJames
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 9:36 am | Permalink


  2. Cindy
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I have pointed out before that Eiynah was accused of being a white supremacist because her family, gasp, had the nerve to flee Islam.

    How dare she deviate from the narrative that coddled SJWs have laid out for her and other “POC” (a word that I consider to be really offensive and demeaning)

    SJW virtue signalling overrides any right that minorities within Islam might have to speak about their experiences.

    And I just saw this:

    Enlightenment values are *racist* folks.

  3. Posted January 30, 2017 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I called it a day at my particular march when the speaker at the moment went full No True Scotsman and started cherry picking the Qu’ran to prove that ‘True’ Muslims are opposed to terrorism.

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Excellent post and puts a proper frame around what the Left should be. Thanks to you and Sam Harris and a few others who explain it so clearly.

  5. George
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    So this happened last week:
    Experimental nuclear physicist Kawtar Hafidi has been named the next director of Physics Division at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.

    Here is her bio. She is an Arab woman, originally from Morocco. She got her Ph.D. from Paris Sud University in 1999. She then went to Argonne as a post doc in 1999 and has been there ever since.

    I thought about making this a sarcastic post, pleading with Rick Perry to reverse this decision once he takes over as Secretary of Energy. I just could not. The events of the past few days have made me sick. So now we don’t want people like Hafidi in this country. As Daniel Drezner said to the orange man on Friday, “Go fuck yourself.”

    My father was a refugee. He fought with the Polish army in the west during World War II. The communist government stripped him of his citizenship after the war. He came to the USA without a passport – just a travel document issued by the UK. It is humiliating that this sad excuse for a man is President of the United States.

    • George
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      The links in my comment are good – just remove the ” from the end.

  6. Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Der Drumpfenfurher’s Muslim ban doesn’t even pretend to be effective at stopping domestic violence. Rather, it’s all about playing to primitive fears about invasions from strangers.

    The chaos and confusion surrounding the whole thing? The yuge uprising of outrage in response?

    Those are all bonuses for the Resident.

    Amidst the chaos and confusion, he’s solidifying his power base, putting Bannon in de-facto charge of the Security Council. And when the outrage morphs into rioting, well, why that’s simply the call for the riot police, curfews, and, sooner rather than later, a state of emergency and martial law.

    Remember, we’re all operating under the unquestionable assumption that martial law is an unthinkable, horribly unspeakable evil. But Mr. Tinyinpants would be thrilled and overjoyed to be America’s bolshoi tsar, our heilig kaiser, our primo Caesar. He’s always been a fan of dictation, after all.

    No, don’t worry. There’s not much we can do to stop it at this point. Acquiesce and he does it in a relaxed manner with his puppet Republican-controlled Congress. Fight like Hell and he picks you as the obvious catalyst for why a strong hand is needed right now.

    The die has long since been cast, and about all that’s left to us is to watch the trains collide and hope that we, personally and individually, don’t get hit by the flaming wreckage.



    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      President Bannon denies these charges! 🙂

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        Trump has put Steve Bannon on the National Security Council, the only “political advisor” ever to join that crucial body. In so doing, he has demoted the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence to part-time status on the Security Council

        Now, the Council has not just a full-blown alt-righter like Bannon, but another, National Security Advisor Gen. Michael Flynn, who has one foot (and one son) in the alt-right camp, with his paranoid conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic tweets.

        Vladimir Putin must be pleased with the way his kompromat investment is paying off.

    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Ben, regarding your penultimate paragraph: We must resist by all means legal and moral. Make them show their hand in public, again and again and again.

      If they do something as insane as martial law (and I certainly don’t put that past President Bannon) then we can only hope that they reap the whirlwind (with minimal collateral damage to the rest of the US and the world).

      • Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        You know how, when you get sick, there’s a time when you’re not feeling so great but you’re still trying to convince yourself that it’s not all that bad? That you think you might vomit, but probably (hopefully!) not if you just calm yourself down the right way? Maybe if you lie on your right side and don’t move your head at all?

        In reality, of course, your stomach is going to empty itself and there’s not a damned thing you can do to stop it. Your limited cognitive resources are better spent plotting a pathway to the garbage can or the toilet, and accepting that the very act of looking that way may prompt a near-involuntary sprint in that direction.

        No matter what, you’re in for some very unpleasant upheaval followed by a disgusting, smelly mess to clean up — with, of course, the simple act of attempting to clean quite possibly prompting an even further mess. Maybe, if you did enough emergency route planning, the mess is limited to hosing out the trash can or simply flushing the toilet…but that’s pretty much what your hopes can reasonably be limited to.

        That’s where we’re at right now.

        Drumpf will rule America for the rest of his life.

        An actuarial will tell you that that’s certainly not going to be more than a short blip in historical terms; much more than a decade, fifteen years tops, is very unlikely. If he makes it that long, of course, the big question will be how long his heirs rule America after his death.

        He may well die sooner rather than later, in which case the question of his successor becomes much more uncertain.

        Either way, the era of the American Republic has come to an end, as surely as you really shouldn’t have eaten at that greasy spoon with the failed health inspection notice and the cockroaches scurrying around the un-swept floors. But you did, and America voted for Drumpf, and you’re tossing your cookies and we’ve got a new system of government, whatever that eventually settles out to be.

        Like it or not.



        • Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

          I can’t argue with that Ben; but I sincerely hope the Drumpfenfallout is less severe than that. But do I have logical grounds for hope? Probably not.

        • Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

          Scary stuff, and unfortunately not outside the bounds of reason.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

          Maybe it’s time for a new cocktail: Trump paregoric.

          Me, I’d rather go for the emetic of early impeachment.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted January 31, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

            Is that your one Pence worth?

        • Historian
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

          What scares me more than Trump is the extraordinarily moral cowardice of the Republican Party. They are totally obsequious to every one of Trump’s whims. Some Republicans like John McCain will occasionally criticize Trump in the mildest of terms, but they never are willing to take action to stop him. Thus, they voted for his corrupt cabinet, and didn’t demand that he divest himself of his multitude of conflicts of interest or release his tax returns. Trump alone can’t bring down the American Republic, but with the Republican Party doing nothing to stop him, he can.

          • GBJames
            Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

            The Republican Party has been a party of vandals for so long that they don’t know how to stand up against a Republican president. They are very good, of course, in saying “no” (and only “no”) to a Democrat. They are feckless in the extreme.

            I’d say “God help us” if it would make a damn bit of difference.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

          I disagree.

          Trump is more of a lower-GI-tact toxicant, bound to be expelled out the body politic’s other end.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 30, 2017 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

            Time for a massive dose of cascara, then.

            Sadly, I don’t know who’s going to administer it.


        • Kevin
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

          There are many ways to think of the statement: Trump will rule America till the end of his life.

          I do not wish for his death, but if he was somehow blinded by MS and had to use a wheel chair, I wonder if he would actually, for the first time in his life, learn what empathy is.

          • Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

            As Socrates observed, Caesar was warned, and we all eventually discover, humans are mortal. The only question regards the accompanying circumstances of death. Trump is no exception.

            The best future world I can imagine involves Trump dying peacefully from old age in his sleep in his own bed. Should I live to see that day, that’s one obituary I would read with — as another now-dead man phrased it — great pleasure.



            • Kevin
              Posted January 30, 2017 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

              It’s possible Trump does not know the ending of Julius Caesar. This would explain a lot. 🗡

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted January 30, 2017 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

                And sadly, once Caesar was out of the way, it was Augustus who dismantled the Republic or at least hollowed it out from the inside and all this with the support of those who would have opposed Caesar. This is what may happen to us when Pence takes over.

            • Fré Hoogendoorn
              Posted January 31, 2017 at 7:23 am | Permalink

              Given that Socrates died some 350 years before Caesar was assassinated, I’m impressed by his prophetic powers.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted January 31, 2017 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

            I do not wish for his death,

            I’m told that kidney stones are an experience to … die for?

    • Malik
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      It’s about a lot of things. One is highlighting the carnage wrought by Islam. It needs to be stigmatised until every muslim ACTIVELY looks within their communities / families to repudiate and self-police the swamp from which the mosquitoes breed.

    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      “And when the outrage morphs into rioting, well, why that’s simply the call for the riot police, curfews, and, sooner rather than later, a state of emergency and martial law.”

      If or when it happens people like Dave Rubin, and Gad Saad will blame SJWs, not Trump, for it.

  7. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    and when the next attack is not prevented, there will be even more intrusions into freedom/liberty etc.

    Trump will do the same s#it to us.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      meant to give an example:

      if everyone in the US stays in their homes, the risk of injuries/fatalaties at the next attack goes down. Ergo, everyone must stay in their homes. No Boston Marathons. No malls.

      Compare also the risk of death/injury from lightning – stay in your homes. The victims of lightning strikes will in fact go down. Heil Trump.

      The “logic” so far from the Trump admin. gives nothing to suggest that the above would not happen.

      • Malik
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        “Lightning strikes” aren’t trying to get their hands on a nuclear weapon. Need to stop comparing terrorists with natural / accidental disasters. I am sure if your family member was mutilated and killed by a terrorist, the malicious intent would not be lost in numbers and statistics.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

          Both scenarios are fictional. The logic of the scenarios is being equated, to further gain insight to Trump’s logic. I don’t understand the criticism.

      • Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        And everybody must stop going to work/school, don’t forget it.

        • Helen Hollis
          Posted January 31, 2017 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

          I have not seen this happen yet. Have you?

          • Posted February 1, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

            No, but I know a gentleman who basically tries to “prove” how beneficial it is for his family that he has no job; and one of my children recently tried to make a case for not going to school.

  8. Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    When the Germans developed an ideology that:

    * Saw itself as superior to all others (as Islam does)

    * Was intrinsically totalitarian (as is Islam)

    * Wanted to impose itself on the whole world (like a Caliphate)

    * Would violently suppress competing ideologies (as is common in Islamic nations).

    * Was hugely down on Jews (like Islam)

    * Was against gays, imprisoning them (as in many Islamic nations)

    * Didn’t tolerate dissent or free expression (like Islam).

    * Saw loyalty to the ideology as superseding personal rights (like Islam)

    * Thought it had a Divine right to impose its will (like Islam)

    * Saw women as primarily wives and mothers (as Islam does)

    et cetera, et cetera, …

    … many people had no trouble at all in seeing the evil in the ideology and opposing it. There was no “it’s their culture” or “since most adherents are Germans it’s racist to oppose it”.

    Nor did people opposed to it get dismissed as “Naziphobic” and nor is there a celebration of the display of swastikas on clothing as a statement of “freedom”.

    • Cindy
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink


    • somer
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      I dont agree with right wing demonisation and Trump’s Muslim ban but Im not keen on those who assert that the “real” Islam is humane. There are too many that assert that around me in my life.

      Three years ago at Australian National University there was a conference on Honor Killings where a whole lot of white “feminists” asserted that these are no different from regular domestic violence of the west or the motivations of a western soldier fighting for any cause. Story about the police in UK being afraid to investigate honour killings for fear of offending communities.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 8:27 pm | Permalink


  9. Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I think that liberals/democrats/progressives are going to have a hard time selling this to anyone. It’s so much easier just to demonize ALL of them. And it’s a strategy that is working now and has worked very well in the past (i.e. lazy blacks, welfare moms etc).

    Education is the solution of course … but as an educator myself I can tell you that we seem to have lost our way on what’s important. I despair … and am seriously considering bowing out of the fight and simply retiring to Mexico or South America. I don’t want to fight both ends of the horseshoe …

  10. Malik
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Classical liberal writers can spit truth until the cows come home. You cannot compete with social media and outrage culture. This is why classical liberals with a clue realise that Trump is ironically necessary, and dare I say, correct. It’s like sacrificing your queen in a chess game to ultimately beat your opponent.

  11. Stephen Barnard
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I’m leaving for New Zealand this afternoon, expecting to see protests at SFO.

    If politics comes up in NZ I’ll try to change the subject. I wish I had time to order some Canadian maple leaf stickers for my caravan.

    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Fine time to head south! 🙂

  12. Kevin
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Fear and dishonesty are the hallmarks of the foundation of conservative Christian, Trump-enabled America.

  13. Historian
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    This post gives us much to ponder. For now, I will just comment on Harris’ apparent endorsement of this statement by David Frum in The Atlantic.

    “When liberals insist that only fascists will defend borders, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals won’t do.”

    Frum is a conservative and former speech writer for George W. Bush, who did not support Trump. He is one of the few conservatives that I take seriously. However, this statement is absurd. He is conflating the illiberal left (which by definition is not liberal) with actual liberals. He thinks that liberals no longer believe in nationality. He is implying that liberals don’t believe in a sane immigration policy. Where does he get these ideas? The vast majority of liberals just think that the Muslim ban and building a wall is not a good way to defend the borders. Also, note, that in effect, he is saying that Trump is a fascist. I’m waiting for him to say it explicitly.

    • Barney
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      I agree – that Frum statement was absurd (I’d use several rude adjectives, but out of respect for Prof Coyne, I’ll just let people imagine them), and I am so disappointed to see the Prof calling it ‘trenchant’. It’s a stupid bit of, let’s face it, “Identity Politics”.

    • eric
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      I agree, and wish I had read your much more succinct post before I wrote my more verbose version of it. 🙂

    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      I think that the statement nails the problem.

      As for whether the illiberal leftists calling themselves liberals are liberals, or whether Trump is a fascist… well, he isn’t, but comes dangerously close. This is my opinion, and I am less anti-Trump than many others (e.g. I like him more than Obama).

      A living language, used by living people, is always inaccurate.

      My impression is that people calling themselves liberals (who are a group very different from what was called liberals a century ago) indeed don’t believe in a sane immigration policy, or rather, consider only the open-border policy sane. They are for sanctuary cities, they haven’t yet seen an illegal immigrant whom they don’t want to legalize immediately, and they do not even use the word “illegal”, replacing it with “undocumented”. And they rally behind Linda Sarsour, who looks like an explanation why Trump won.

      • Helen Hollis
        Posted January 31, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        This is my opinion, and I am a bit more anti- Trump like so many others (e.g. I like Obama much more than Trump) I feel that much of this is a great spin to take the attention away from the American citizen from the issue of Russia and it’s involvement in our democracy. But, what do I know?

    • $G
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Is this truly so harsh a statement? The EU’s policies on immigration coupled with the number of atrocities they continue to endure has made liberalism and defending the borders a salient point during the American election. Obama and Clinton may have personally held sensible policies, but the divisive arm of the left that *does* make these claims makes for an obvious target for the right-wing crowd.

      Frum finishes that article with the following statement:

      “Angela Merkel and Donald Trump may be temperamental opposites. They are also functional allies.”

      I don’t think is unfair.

  14. Sastra
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    … in his tweet Pinker was actually responding to an earlier version of the statement appearing at the March website. That statement, which has mysteriously vanished, called science a racist and sexist enterprise, and that is anti-science.

    Is there a source on this? Pinker, preferably.

    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Let’s just say I have a reliable source.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        A little birdie?

          • Sastra
            Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

            If this was the offensive original, then I’m going to assume the particularly problematic part was

            Science has historically – and generally continues to support discrimination.

            Yeah, I agree that this is a bad characterization of science, though I’m not sure I’d go so far as invoking the dreaded “anti-science PC/identity politics/hard-left rhetoric” rhetoric.

            • Steve Again
              Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

              This one also stuck out to me:

              “We recognize that many issues about which scientists as a group have largely remained silent – attacks on black & brown lives, oil pipelines through indigenous lands, sexual harassment and assault, ADA access in our communities, immigration policy, lack of clean water in several cities across the country, poverty wages, LGBTQIA rights, and mass shootings are scientific issues.”

              • Posted January 30, 2017 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

                Those are largely moral issues, which can be informed by science but whose ultimate resolution depends on morals and preferences, for which science provides no objective solutions. Really, is “immigration policy” a scientific issue? Science can help figure out the results of different policies, but different policies may be informed by differing individual preferences. Saying that most of those are “scientific issues” is either disingenuous or ambiguous.

  15. comedyriff
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Many good points. Even though I´m personally against this ban, I do wonder though if the origins of past terrorists is a good indicator of future terrorists. Obviously in life, studying the past can be a good predictor of the future, but there are many situations where it doesn´t. If this is such a case, I don´t know. It´s not my area of expertise. The world is certainly different now compared to 2001, with ISIS roaming certain countries in the Middle East. It´s probably wise to consult security experts of probable country-origin of future terrorists.

    Personally I´m not that worried about terrorism. Even though it´s very tragic for the victims and their families and it can have immense psychological effects on a society, I don´t fear it. What I do worry about is mixing vastly different cultures within nations. The multi-cultural utopia is certainly a compelling idea, but is it compatible with human nature? I´m not an historian, so there might be examples of well-functioning multi-cultural societies I´m not aware of. There certainly tragic examples of what can happen when it fails, with bloody civil wars and genocide.

    • Historian
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      I agree with you that the notion that a multicultural society is somehow inherently superior to a monocultural society is disturbing. There can be a long debate about what it means to say that a society is multicultural. I will leave that to the sociologists. I will say that for a society to be stable the elements within it must share certain values. In the United States those values would include those implied in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. For example, American society would become unstable if a significant element denied the concept of separation of church and state or representative government. The American experience has been largely successful because diverse immigrant groups have absorbed these values (perhaps over several generations) despite the natures of the cultures they emigrated from. I think the same will happen to Muslims and the early evidence is largely positive. But only time will render a definitive judgment.

      • FiveGreenLeafs
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        ” I think the same will happen to Muslims and the early evidence is largely positive. But only time will render a definitive judgment.”

        I am not a sociologist either, but (from what I have understood) I would condition that statement, with, that it might depend on the size of these population groups, and if they concentrate in enclaves or are dispersed in society, are participating actively in the workforce, or are mainly subsisting on welfare.

        From my perspective, the evidence is rather disconcerting, perhaps because of size, and in for example Sweden, we now experience the emergence of alternative societies, with mosques that take on for example judicial roles, where the police firefighters and native swedes are no longer welcome to enter, and can be physically attacked if they do.

        Medics and emergency personal has now requested bulletproof vests, and do not enter these areas without police escort. And before Christmas, a man was burned to death in an apartment fire due to this.

        Another issue is that the uptake of cultural norms can be very slow, or even reverse, so second and third generation to immigrants, are more extreme than the first.

        This will not (I think) be a stable system.

        • Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

          Thank you for this information.

        • Helen Hollis
          Posted January 31, 2017 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

          My Aunt who lives and works in Sweden would agree with you and also note that she feels crime has risen with the changing demographics. She has yet to give me anything to go on but her word. I have tried to search out crime stats there and may not be looking in the right places.

          • FiveGreenLeafs
            Posted February 1, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

            ” I have tried to search out crime stats there and may not be looking in the right places”

            I can understand that, and it is (as I experience it) very difficult, for several different reasons.

            The government agency that is primarily responsible for compiling this type of data (from the police, judicial system etc), and publicize it, is the, “Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention”, in Swedish, “Brottsförebyggande rådet”, abbreviated, BRÅ.

            The problem is, that there now exist evidence enough to be highly skeptical about their data.

            Over the past several years there have been both whistle-blowers, and cases of academic researchers that have broken off collaboration or left positions, and openly questioned their methods, integrity and published data.

            Another problem is that they for example don’t register the nationality of offenders, or if they are immigrants, so it is basically impossible to go back and correlate.

            A further problem is in the raw data itself, since the efficiency of Swedish police has deteriorated catastrophically over the past 15y, to the point that many today don’t even bother to report minor crimes like thefts, assaults and so on.

            And the police actively (in many cases) now tries to dissuade people to register such crimes. The waiting times (telephone) can also be many hours long.

            Further, in areas with high degree of immigrants, where also the crime rate is highest, people simply does not (in many cases) report crimes at all.

            And, since a much greater proportion of people now live in such areas, direct historic comparisons of crime rates is simply not accurate.

            This disconnect and suspicion of manipulation of data has been growing wider and stronger.

            Because of this, a retired, but very well known and long time journalist at SVT, (the Swedish public service broadcaster), Elisabet Höglund, started to collect data on killings and reporting them monthly on her blog blog.

            So far, her data differs significantly from the official statistics. Her tally for 2016, is for example 163 compared to BRÅ:s preliminary number of 105.

            It is incredible to read through her data and descriptions, then try to square that with the official statistic. It simply does not add up.

            One way to try to get around this, is to compare (better official data) from Denmark and Norway, and then to extrapolate to Sweden. Another, is several Swedish academics now living and working in Universities outside Sweden, in for example Denmark and Norway.

            But I fear the truth is, that we at the moment simply do not (in many cases) know how bad it really is.

      • eric
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

        Do we really need time to render judgment? This experiment was done throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with Irish, German, and Asian immigrants (from a variety of countries) – among others. There was even a somewhat sizeable emigration of Iranians after the 1979 revolution, and because of that IIRC there’s more than a million first- and second-generation Iranian-Americans today (lots went to Canada, too). So we’ve even ‘run the experiment’ of middle-eastern, muslim immigration, and no cultural breakup of the country happened. Heck, compared to our homegrown, current red state/blue state divide, any imported cultural divisions are small potatoes.

        Multiculturalism has its problems, but it appears that “can’t form a stable democracy” isn’t one of them, at least in regards to the U.S.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      “Obviously in life, studying the past can be a good predictor of the future …”

      That’s why God made the Daily Racing Form.

    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Abdul Razak Ali Artan was a Somali refugee. Here in Europe, we are seeing more and more terror from refugees, or people posing as such, which from practical viewpoint is the same. Indeed, some Americans think that we Europeans are guilty if refugees are killing us, because we are not kind enough to them and so have driven them to terror. Time will show whether events in the USA will develop differently.

      You are right that it is not even as much about terrorism but about culture. In this respect, some countries in Trump’s list are very problematic. The cultural issues with them do not disappear because of the fact that other countries not in Trump’s list are even more problematic.

  16. Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Ok, let millions of muslims come in.

    But then, Jerry, would you be the one to announce that “white girls must avoid rape”, that “girls must cover arms and legs to appease the refugees” like the German authorities asked their citizens to do?

    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      Control of Muslim immigration must be done seriously, not in a cowboy-like fashion that the first instance of court will overturn, and for good reason.

      Besides, what about Saudi Arabia and Pakistan?

      • Helen Hollis
        Posted January 31, 2017 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        I will guess it may be that there are more business interests to be had with SA and, Pakistan is a mixed bag. Some are very helpful to us, while some are very radical. I only work with people from nearly every muslim nation. I don’t know much about the politics, I do know what it is like hearing their viewpoints.

    • CFM
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Where did you get that information. I am a German – and a woman – and I never received that memo.. There was, if I remember it right, onr letter by a headmaster of a school to parents after a number of refugees was housed in the schools gym which was misconstrued, maybe intentionally, by right- wing politicians to imply as much.

  17. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    What I fear is that a Reichstag-fire-style terrorist attack would quell the protests and put much of the nation behind Trump’s immigration ban. Which is to say, what I fear is fear itself.

    Trump’s entire campaign for the presidency was predicated on such fear. His popularity with the Republican base surged with the attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando. Indeed, both Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican convention and his inaugural speech could have been entitled “Keep Fear Alive!”

    • darrelle
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      Yes. Stoking fear was Trump’s primary campaign strategy from day 1. It was so over the top and so evidently contra-factual one wonders how so many could have been swayed by it. Apparently there are always enough people ready and willing to be goaded into fear to make it a viable strategy. It has been successful many times throughout history, but perhaps never during a time and place during which such fear is so unwarranted. Caution perhaps, but then caution is always warranted.

      A thing I continue to find ironic is that the people who were swayed by Trump’s strategy of fear are largely the same people who want everyone to believe that they are Billy-Bad-Asses. Real Men and the women that have been indoctrinated to fawn over machoism. People who find assholes like Trump and Bannon strong and tough leaders who can make the hard choices.

      • TJR
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        IIRC the South Park film addressed just this point about 15 years ago.

        Its amazing how often Python, Hitchhiker’s and South Park in particular seem to satirise things before they even happen.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

          Speaking of satirizing before it happens, look at how Sinclair Lewis’s novel It Can’t Happen Here and Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America anticipate the election of Trump-like figures.

        • darrelle
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

          I guess we just keep making the same mistakes so that all you have to do to effectively satirize the present is re-publish the satire of past greats.

          Some of the Kingston Trio’s songs could probably become popular again right about now.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

            Every time Trump shows his ridiculous orange face above a lectern with the White House logo or the desk in the Oval Office, I wanna make like Tom Dooley by hanging down my head to cry.

            • darrelle
              Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

              A-Fucking-Men. I feel like I’m having a Twilight Zone moment every time I see him among Presidential trappings. Still haven’t gotten use to it. President Trump is a very bad joke.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 30, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

                “President Trump is a very bad joke.”

                If only that’s all he was…


  18. eric
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    I have to somewhat disagree with Harris’ focus here, I think he’s using the immigration debate to go on an unrelated rant against the regressive left. AFAIK nobody has been arguing to allow immigrants in with zero background checks, or allow preferential immigration for muslims, or anything else that might be linked to the pomo excesses of the far left. Nobody has been insisting ‘only facists defend borders.’ Sure, a lot of liberals want more open borders, but nobody is talking about eliminating the green card process altogether or having State stop vetting refugee claims of need.

    Trump’s policies are not, IMO, some sort of irrational right reaction to an irrational left, and I think it’s really a mistake to paint it that way, because thinking that way will lead us to an entirely misguided and ineffective response. We need to address this anti-immigrant bigotry head on, rather than think that if we just rein in the far left’s authoritarian excesses the right-wing authoritarian excesses will go away.

    I’m not saying the far left is wonderful or even good. It needs to be fixed too. But “fixing the far left” isn’t the solution to every problem, and it’s not the solution to this one. Getting conservative voters to understand the value of immigrants to our communities; fighting against misinformation that they are more dangerous or that they don’t pay their fair share of taxes etc. are the solutions.

    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      “nobody has been arguing to allow immigrants in with zero background checks”

      Well, Maryam Namazie did, on his podcast.

    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      “Trump’s policies are not, IMO, some sort of irrational right reaction to an irrational left”

      I think Trump’s Bannon’s entire political agenda is to be as “anti-left” as it is possible to be. Nothing but red meat to Limbaugh ditto-heads. Anything that could goad the left was his playbook.

      I think a big chunk of his partisans were with him because of that. They wanted the left to get thumbed in the eye.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      “Trump’s policies are not, IMO, some sort of irrational right reaction to an irrational left, and I think it’s really a mistake to paint it that way, because thinking that way will lead us to an entirely misguided and ineffective response.”

      I interpreted Sam a bit differently. I think he was saying that if the Left doesn’t take people’s fears about border control and immigration seriously then that leaves an opportunity for others, like Trump, to exploit in their favor and to the Left’s detriment. Both the Left’s and the Right’s positions regarding these issues, heck all issues, are very commonly exaggerated, misunderstood and misrepresented by their opponents. But, I don’t think Sam makes that mistake. Basically I read him as saying that we need to make decisions based on good evidence and well supported facts and both sides have problems doing that.

      • Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        A agree completely and Sam’s public writing’s confirm this view and his concern on this issue.

        I think the Frum quote is hyperbolic; but the kernel of the message is one the mark. Many Drumpfenführer supporters expressed exactly these kind of fears. Both on the safety side and the economic side.

        I disagree with them of course; but this was a good part of Drumpfenführer’s appeal.

    • comedyriff
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      What caused what is obviously hard to determine. Looking at the left and the right I believe their positions are at least partly caused by each other. Of course the left can´t be blamed for everything that is “wrong” with the right, for example their propensity to be religious … But I believe a reason for why Trump is president is because he´s the perfect anti-hero to the political correctness, outrage-culture, cultural relativism and globalism run amok. Hillary and Obama wouldn´t even mention terrorism possibly being caused by the doctrine of Islam. A reason for this complete denial of a problem might of course be due to a fear of benefiting the narrative of actual racists (I have to use ‘actual’ because the word has been watered-down by inaccurate use). But it might be dangerous to not describe reality as many Americans experience it. They might feel you´re disconnected from them.

      Why do I believe this is important? If Trump is the anti-hero to these phenonemons, then doubling down on them might make him stronger or at least not weaken him–because standing up against it (albeit in a rude and childish manner) would be his exact purpose for some of his supporters. I´m left-leaning in an American context, so it frustrates me to see the left possibly keep falling into the the same trap.

      To win over some Trump-voters I wonder if a more balanced approach might be wise, like:

      – Be for free trade, but be honest about its downsides for some.
      – Be for immigration and helping refugees, but be honest about possible problems of mixing vastly different cultures.
      – Encourage people to be respectful and nice, but do not de-platform or prosecute people for being offensive.
      – Condemn mistreatment of women and homosexuals regardless of the ideology or ethnicity of the perpetrator.

      I think it would be good if the moderate left and moderate right rejected their more extreme versions and moved towards a more balanced middle. An increasing polarization could be very dangerous.

      • Cindy
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        I agree with this post.

  19. Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Well said. I have additional comments but no time to post them now. I wrote something rather similar to this last evening.

  20. mudskipper
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    My faceback feed is filled with people who are outraged about the ban. I know most of these people: none of them are starry-eyed about radical Islam and most detest the conservative Islam treatment of women.

    Yet some have posted the picture of the woman in the hijab. To them, the hijab in this picture is just an easily recognizable symbol of Islam. (If you didn’t use the hijab, how else would you clearly depict an Muslim by face alone?) Many of these people work in SF Bay Area and have worked side-by-side with women who wear hijabs. They experience these woman as moderates who live lives that are pretty indistinguishable from everybody else’s lives.

    These same people probably have no idea how the image came to be. Nor are they likely to know who Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Linda Sarsour, Reza Aslan, Sam Harris, PZ Myers, or Jerry Coyne are or have read anything written by them on this subject.

    I can certainly understand the objections some people have to the image. You can accuse the people who use the image of insensitivity to the history and symbology of the hajib. But it is quite a leap to assume that they all are in love with Islam in its repressive and misogynistic form.

    • Andrea
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the hijab poster seems like a shorthand. We all had our own reasons for participating in the Womens’ March. The organizer’s personal politics and the hijab poster were far from my mind.

      Additionally, this fascination with the hijab annoys me for a specific reason – I’m not comfortable with atheistsplaining to my Muslim peers that their hijab is actually a tool of their oppression, any more than I’m comfortable with being feminisplained to that my high heels are a tool of *my* oppression. Clothing is a very personal choice, and I’m not going to go around assuming that women in a hijab are wearing theirs to feel submissive. I will, however, believe my mother’s weird Christian cousin when she *says* that her bonnet is there to remind her to be submissive. Islam has no monopoly on oppressive articles of clothing.

      Also, I didn’t interpret the as a philosophical inconsistency. It was one of three: a black woman and Latina woman graced the others as an illustration of the many ways there are to be American.

      The fact that Sarsour can’t be pigeonholed into preexisting feminist narratives is something I see as a strength, not a weakness. How wonderful that Sarsour is so complex and strange and flawed; what an interesting example we now have to fuel critical discussion of what intersectional feminism means. I’m a pro-choice straight white atheist feminist scientist, but there are many other flavors.

      The more important problem is the EO. Can’t believe I let myself get sidelined by the hijab issue.

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted January 31, 2017 at 1:28 am | Permalink

        Yes, How wonderful that Sarsour is so complex and strange and flawed;
        As long as she in the right group.

        Yet, pity anybody in a non approved group, who dares sit with their legs a bit open, or wears a shirt with some stylised women on it, or makes a self deprecating joke about women in labs, or anyone who wears an Indian costume to a themed dance, or on Halloween, or someone questions any number of orthodoxies, or someone like Sam Harris is labelled sexist for an off the cuff joke in response to a question;
        those people are wonderful, strange and flawed too, but a certain segment of the liberal left would suffer purple faced apoplexy before acknowledging that fact.
        Just the opposite, those type of people are wrong wrong wrong, and must be told so and made to apologise.

        Yet a headscarf does indeed represent a more oppressive ideology than anything those I allude too represent.

  21. Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    PZ Meyers supported Hillary Clinton and the majority of his followers did too. These are the people who are pushing Identity Politics and calling any opposition to this rhetoric ‘racist’, misogynist’ or some other derogatory -ist.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      Over in the UK there is a site ( where people (open to UK citizens only) can petition parliament to debate issues.

      A popular recent addition is “Prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the United Kingdom.” which has already received a lot of support. There is now an alternative petition “Donald Trump should make a State Visit to the United Kingdom.” which has started attracting signature. So far so good, will of the people and so forth. It’ll will be interesting to see how they compare, including the broad maps of supporters locations.

      However comments to the Guardian article “To defeat Trumpism will take an extraordinary popular resistance” are being deliberately moderated if they mention the alternative petition. It would seem that the Guardian (a left/liberal newspaper) isn’t as fond of free speech as one might hope. That’s the sort of activity that loses broader support.

  22. scottoest
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    No amount of logic or reason will get Trump to rescind the EO, but I *would* love to see him publicly explain and defend the decision not to include Saudi Arabia in the list of countries.

    • Historian
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      The NYT has an op-ed that goes into your question in depth. It appears that the countries not banned contain Trump interests!

      • Sigmund
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        Not only is Trump the smartest and bestest President ever, but in less than two weeks he’s figured out how to remove the threat of terrorism from repressive Middle Eastern countries.
        All we need to do to completely pacify the region is convince each of Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Syria to build a Trump Tower, or maybe a golf course!

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

          But no windmills!

      • improbable
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        God this is such nonsense, I despair that even the NYT stoops to this.

        No shit, not many American firms have business interests in Iran or Somalia. Lots do in Saudi. There is no great mystery in why!

        And, obviously, Trump’s EO doesn’t actually name the countries. It just cites some list some other guy had drawn up.

        • Craw
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

          Yes. This really should cause people to stop and question whether they are letting their bias run amok. This list was prepared by the Obama administration (for defensible and cogent reasons).

  23. Tom
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Mr Trump and his people are probably right in thinking that the protests will be a nine days’ wonder.
    He seems to have finally united the Right and all he sees is a squabbling Left without a recognisable leader.
    Oddly enough Herr Hitler was also faced with a ragtag opposition which he manipulated to contrast with his supposed unification of the Right

  24. Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    “P. Z. Myers, who’s never met an atheist more renowned than he whom he hasn’t smeared . . . .”

    I laughed at that, but really there’s no need to give the odious Myers the oxygen of attention we so obviously desires. Let him rot in his ever shrinking cesspit of a blog.

    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink


    • Cindy
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      It is heartening to see that in some cases, extremism leads to an ever shrinking circle of influence.

      History will remember the contributions of PCC, Dawkins and Hitchens. Extremist idealogues such as PZM will be but a footnote, having contributed nothing but toxicity.

      • chris moffatt
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        It’s ever-shrinking because they keep attacking and trying to destroy one another for political incorrectness. Remember what happened to Ophelia Benson over at FTB because she wrote an honest but unacceptable opinion? How many other bloggers there have been kicked out, defamed and spurned over the years? I guess it’s just too hard for an honest blogger, or any person, to predict what the pharyngulites and their ilk will go after next. I gave up FTB years ago and my BP went down 20 points immediately. I recommend to all never reading Myers’ blog again. You’ll be much happier when you’re no longer “quaking with rage and crying” over every little thing, as his adherents do.

    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      It’s hard to think of an atheist less renowned than PZ Myers.

    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Has anyone any idea why he has 2 blogs?

  25. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    It’s crazy to think that terrorists would try to infiltrate the US through the refugee program.

    Those who seek to enter the program subject themselves to an 18-month to two-year screening process. Only a fraction of those who seek asylum status receive it — and of those who do, only a fraction receive asylum in the US.

    If every extant would-be foreign terrorist were to enter the refugee program, so few would end up on our shores as to effectively end the threat of terrorist attacks from abroad.

    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I think everyone except der Drumpfenführer and maybe Rush Limbaugh realizes that this won’t have an effect.

      This is show biz. Don’t look at the hand pulling the rabbit out the hat — look elsewhere.

    • Craw
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      This actually supports the premise of the EO you know. Have you read the EO? It talks about the difficulty of verifying identities and information from these countries, and that the temporary ban is to fix these problems, by having those countries fix some documentation problems. The logic is “we have a good screening process except there is a big hole for these 7 countries and we want to fix that. We think it will take a few months, but longer for Syria.” You don’t have to agree but you will lose arguments if you do not properly understand the case for the EO.

      • Cindy
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        I also recall that a few months ago the FBI stated that they simply did not have the resources to vet every refugee.

      • revelator60
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        …And the nature of the big hole remains conveniently undisclosed. Since there will always be “difficulty of verifying identities and information from these countries,” I wouldn’t be surprised if the ban is extended and re-extended–just as refugees from Syria have been barred indefinitely.
        The EO is hardly surprising for a candidate who vowed to ban Muslims from migrating to the US and who has retained Bannon as his advisor. And then we have the screw-up over barring entry to legal permanent residents who hold green cards, which is still affecting foreign students, workers and other visa holders from the targeted countries.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        Trump’s executive order was ill-conceived, ill-drafted, and ill-executed.

        Makes me ill, just thinking about it, too.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

          Jeez, that’s my second allusion to an FDR inaugural address in this thread. And this one was unconscious. Must be because it’s his birthday. Happy b-day, Mistah Roosevelt.

  26. Nilou Ataie
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Thank you to those who stand up for the atheist Muslims. And an big middle finger for those who tell those people to shut up. If you are a supporter of someone like Sarsour who has admitted to her hate for atheists and secular ideals – you are part of the fucking problem!

  27. rickflick
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think the general population has the ability to see some of these subtle points about regressives and progressives, identity and classic liberal, etc. To lead the country it may be necessary to prioritize to get Trump out of office before dealing with the complex underpinnings of today’s politics.

  28. aljones909
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    The Scientists’ March on Washington
    Finally, something I could get behind. I thought it would be about climate science, GMO’s, vaccines etc. Then I find that scientists must “actively work to unlearn our problematic past and present”.

    From the website:

    “We are taking seriously the many important criticisms regarding (lack of) diversity on social media stating that for this march to be meaningful, we must centralize diversity of the march’s organizers (both in leadership positions and at all levels of planning), speakers, and issues addressed as a principal objective for the march.

    We hear you, we thank you for your criticism. In the March for Science, we are committed to centralizing, highlighting, standing in solidarity with, and acting as accomplices with black, Latinx, API, indigenous, Muslim, Jewish, women, people with disabilities, poor, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, trans, non-binary, agender, and intersex scientists and science advocates.

    We recognize that many issues about which scientists as a group have largely remained silent – attacks on black & brown lives, oil pipelines through indigenous lands, sexual harassment and assault, ADA access in our communities, immigration policy, lack of clean water in several cities across the country, poverty wages, LGBTQIA rights, and mass shootings are scientific issues.

    Science has historically – and generally continues to support discrimination. In order to move forward as a scientific community, we must address and actively work to unlearn our problematic past and present, to make science available to everyone.”

  29. Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    According to surveys, atheist-skeptics are overwhelmingly in support of LGBT+ and women’s rights. Pew’s 2016 “10 facts about atheists” finds in point 3 that only 10% consider themselves conservative, against 69% Democrats. They also found that …

    “Atheists overwhelmingly favor same-sex marriage (92%) and legal abortion (87%). In addition, three-quarters (74%) say that government aid to the poor does more good than harm.”

    In reality, the ongoing conflict with P. Z. and his merry faction have zero to do with “identity-politics” understood in this way as outlined above. It has nothing to do with “not treating women as people”, as they claimed before, and nothing to do with racism or social justice itself, either. At the beginning, everyone was a misogynist. A year or two ago everyone was also a racist according to them. Now we’ve got a “supremacist” or outright fascist upgrade. It will be interesting to see what’s next.

    New Atheists were always critical of religion and only P. Z. et al turned into an HuffPo style Islam accommodationist, for tribalist and emotional reasons he just rationalizes to himself now that he hates New Atheists and perceives them as a different tribe, with othering in full effect. He’s simply an authoritarian.

    Alas, nobody in his faction bothered to read their Critical Race Theory (CRT) manual they endorse and try to force down everyone’s throat, and into which their cherished intersectionality belongs. Apparently, it’s enough to regurgitate buzzwords they’ve read on Tumblr or from fellow tribe members. They haven’t even noticed that the kind of intersectionality they endorse is nearly opposite to what Kimberlé Crenshaw proposed originally, though their subversion fits into CRT.

    Richard Delgado (CRT scholar) acknowledges in his Introduction (2006) that there’s a “somewhat uneasy tension with anti-essentialism” because of Standpoint Theory where people in some identity category have a common “voice” (e.g. “voice-of-color thesis”), which arises out of similar “lived experiences” – which is a form of postmodernist cultural relativism. There’s one problem with this type of identity politics.

    Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge are probably the main influence behind the redefined intersectionality as P. Z. Myers and his flock are using the term. This is primarily about linking different “oppressed” groups together, in a “workers unite” kind of fashion. However, each individual is imprisoned into their culture and has “voice” as a kind of spokesperson. Those who don’t fit in, the Ayaan Hirsi Alis, are race/gender traitors and hated with passion, because of the “common voice” assumption, and which makes their “wrong” message as particularily damaging or betraying to their respective group, they must be ostracized. Sometimes the patronizing SJW consider such people as having “internalized oppression”, which comes via postmodern Marx-Freud ideas. There’s another problem with this type of identity politics.

    The different oppressions form a matrix of oppression, and that’s where multiple oppressions intersect (hence: intersectionality in this version). By that reasoning, the different groups can work together, but CRT advocates for a form of separatism, which we’ve seen as “melting pot is a microagression” or being against “cultural appropriation”). There’s yet another problem with this type of identity politics.

    Crenshaw’s original intersectional idea was concerned with individuals who fall between the cracks of different activisms or concerns, as in looking at “intersections”. Crenshaw (1991) noticed …

    Among the most troubling political consequences of the failure of antiracist and feminist discourses to address the intersections of race and gender is the fact that, to the extent they can forward the interest of “people of color” and “women,” respectively, one analysis often implicitly denies the validity of the other. The failure of feminism to interrogate race means that the resistance strategies of feminism will often replicate and reinforce the subordination of people of color, and the failure of antiracism to interrogate patriarchy means that antiracism will frequently reproduce the subordination of women. […] With respect to the rape of Black women, race and gender converge so that the concerns of minority women fall into the void between concerns about women’s issues and concerns about racism. But when one discourse fails to acknowledge the significance of the other, the power relations that each attempts to challenge are strengthened.

    To make the transfer, Crenshaw’s “Black women” are analogue to “Dear Muslimas” who now also falls between the cracks, for similar reasons (“islamophobia”).

    That means, P. Z. and his flock who declare their “atheism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit” consistently do the exact opposite of original intersectionality which is some bitter irony. He’s subscribed to the postmodernist CRT variant, and that way lie several other frequent controversies with his faction. Delgado and Stefancic write in their Introduction to Critical Race Theory (2006)

    Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.

    Yes, it’s explicitly critical of the Enlightenment tradition (also see reply 2 above), and just read a bit of “Everyday Feminism” and such sites to get an idea. They also don’t like “color-blind” and like Richard Spencer deem race very important. They just don’t conveive of races as biological, but as culturally real (and to them, social constructionism galore, just as real). Delgado also writes:

    CRT also shared with it a sympathetic understanding of notions of nationalism and group empowerment. […] Chapter 3 takes up storytelling, counterstorytelling, and the narrative turn in general; chapter 4 addresses the twin themes of intersectionality and anti-essentialism. It also considers cultural nationalism and the opposite notion that minorities should attempt to assimilate and blend into mainstream society.

    storytelling and such, as in “ways of knowing” and anedotes are data. Another problem right there. Also consider how this undergirds the loud complaints of “cultural appropriation”.

    These are just some of reasons for controversies over “identity politics” with P. Z. and his flock, or with so-called “social justice warriors” (or “Regressives”). Add in Blank Slate beliefs, which together with the above lead to the outright fear of the corrupting influence of media, and authoritarian urges to control it and use to program the deplorables in the “correct” way.

    Taken together, it’s P. Z. Myers who is a brother in spirit with the self-described identitarian Richard Spencer. If you look into Fourth Wave Feminism on Wikipedia, which is twin to CRT (basically as a type of “Critical Gender Theory”) and often called Intersectionality Feminism, you find additional reasons from callout culture, smearing, secular-religious undercurrents (social media patreon televangelists and matyrs, being born again as “woke” etc). More reasons to oppose P. Z. and the majority of US “movement atheism-skepticism” and notice how none of this has anything to do with feminism, women’s rights, or actual social justice.

    • chris moffatt
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      JHC it’s worse than theology! and just as relevant,

      • Posted January 30, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        What is JHC?

        • stephen
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

          Jesus H Christ?

    • Andrei
      Posted January 31, 2017 at 4:20 am | Permalink

      “At the beginning, everyone was a misogynist.” — this has everything to do with “cultural Marxism” and “identity politics”. As a Marxist you are supposed to view the world and any problems in it not the way they are, but “through lens” of an ideology. Marxists divide the people into “oppressors” and “oppressed”. So, to analyze any societal problem and find ways to solve it, you need to identify who are the “oppressors”, and who are the “oppressed”.

      Classical Marxists look everywhere for “evil capitalists” and “good proletarians”. Cultural Marxists — for “evil misogynists/patriarchy” and “good women”, “evil racists” and “good brown people”, etc. Once you identify your enemies, you know what to do. If there is somebody who does not fit your narrative, such as a Muslim woman who voted for Trump, you dismiss them as “traitors”, because they act against their own identity (race, religion, etc). Basically you demand that people sacrifice their own individual interests in favor of the interests of an “identity group”.

      • Posted January 31, 2017 at 6:17 am | Permalink

        “Cultural Marxism” introduces more problems than it explains, and is largely a conspiracy theory. It doesn’t mean that Marx didn’t have his fair share of influence, including on Critcal Race Theory (where he’s explicitly mentioned). But with Marx, it’s a bit like with Darwin. Just because someone might advocate for Social Darwinism doesn’t mean his findings are categorically wrong. And just because Darwin’s findings are taught, and can be appropriated for some ideology doesn’t mean there is some secret “cultural Darwinist” agenda at play (to avoid misunderstandings, this where the comparison ends, of course Marx was also activist, whereas Darwin did never promote something like social Darwinism). The point is: Marx has a deserved influence in the humanities and economics, just as Darwin has on biology. The term “Cultural Marxism” has too much right wing baggage.

        • Andrei
          Posted January 31, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

          Regardless of what Marx’s influence on the Cultural Marxism was, the term is apt. When somebody refuses to support Hillary (such as Bernie supporters) due to a host of valid reasons, they are still accused of “sexism” and “racism”.

          And regardless of what kind of “right wing baggage” it might have, the “identity politics” is equally applicable to the right, especially the so called “Alt Right”, except the roles of “oppressors” and “oppressed” are kind of reversed. While SJWs blame everything on “Patriarchy”, “White Supremacism” and “Islamophobia”, the Alt Right blames everything on Feminism and Muslim immigration.

  30. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Implying David Frum is a member of the far-right is pretty amusing. He’s one of the reasonable GOP – one who voted for Hillary Clinton early and I often enjoy his take on things even if, because we have different political leanings, I don’t always agree with him.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, Frum and Ross Douthat and a few other pundits are all that’s left of the old “responsible” right these days.

      Frum, in particular, has been pretty good on Trump.

  31. Pluto Animus
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Jerry Coyne thinks the anti-abortion women’s group should have been allowed as an official part of the March.

    Would refusing the participation of a women’s group advocating the repeal of women’s suffrage have been just as bad?

    Why or why not?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      Is there such a group? Are there many women in it?

      I brook no truck with the anti-choice movement. But I have enough respect for their beliefs, where sincerely held, to give them their say.

      I suspect our host was suggesting something similar.

      • Posted January 30, 2017 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        Yes, your suspicion is correct. I am definitely pro-choice, but a march for women shouldn’t splinter on certain political differences like this.

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted January 31, 2017 at 2:57 am | Permalink

        But if it is a march for women’s rights, then excluding groups that advocate restricting women’s rights seems fair.
        Individual beliefs are one thing but organising to take away others choice is another.

        I had first thought it was silly splintering but I changed my mind when thinking it through.

        I think they were right to stop those ‘groups’ marching with them.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 31, 2017 at 3:33 am | Permalink

          Agree with you there.

          In fact the anti-choice movement are worse than the Drumpf (unless he turns out to be a pawn of theirs). Which is worse, having your pussy grabbed or being forced to bear a child you don’t want?

          I’m normally in favour of compromise, but I’d draw the line at the anti-choice lot who, given half a chance, would try to twist the whole march into appearing to support their agenda. I don’t trust them an inch.

          Unlike Ken, I have no respect for their beliefs, no matter how sincerely held. Sincerity in the perpetration of oppression is not a virtue.


    • aljones909
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Maybe because advocating the removal of women’s voting rights would have near zero support? Abortion is a complex ethical issue and opinion is very divided.

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted January 31, 2017 at 3:05 am | Permalink

        Yes but it was about women’s ‘rights’.
        It is irrelevant how complex the issue if you are working to take away rights, then that is what you are doing.

        And, it is not that complex, and it doesn’t stop most women and most people wanting the choice.

        • aljones909
          Posted January 31, 2017 at 4:32 am | Permalink

          “It is irrelevant how complex the issue if you are working to take away rights, then that is what you are doing… it is not that complex”
          To say it’s a “right” doesn’t settle it. Once it was the right of a white person to take the seat of a black person on a bus.
          My point is that it’s not in the same category as “votes for women”
          Pew poll of women on abortion:
          Legal in all/most cases 57%
          Illegal in all/most cases 40%

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 31, 2017 at 4:50 am | Permalink

            And I’d say not being forced to have a child you don’t want is a *more* fundamental human right than whether or not you’re allowed to vote for some tosser, important though that is.

            No abortion isn’t a ‘complex ethical issue’, it’s just a practical one clouded by religious bigotry.


          • Michael Waterhouse
            Posted January 31, 2017 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

            On the narrow proposition of votes for women you may be right.
            However voting rights are a complex issue too and it was once the right of a propertied person over a a common person to have a vote.
            And,variations on the theme.

            Compulsory for all? A certain minimum education?
            It is not ‘obvious’ who ought be able to or should vote.

          • Michael Waterhouse
            Posted January 31, 2017 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

            And, as with who should sit where, some people are simply wrong.

  32. Nietzsche
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Trump is “Demonizing Muslims”? No, Jerry, the liberal mainstream media, in league with the regressive left, is distorting the Trump administration’s actions and stoking outrage. Trump isn’t demonizing Muslims; the liberal mainstream media and regressive left is spinning that narrative on their own.

    There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a temporary ban on entry from some countries while a better, more rigorous screening process is developed by authorities. (The Constitution also does not apply to non-citizens.) And such a ban need not only prevent Jihadis from carrying out terror plots on American soil. You didn’t seem to address how such a ban – as well as the strict vetting procedure that will emerge over time – can keep Islamists out of the U.S. (that is to say, how such measures can screen out individual Muslims who hold beliefs and values that are simply at loggerheads with fundamental American tenets, such as equality before the law, etc.).

  33. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Given the number of terrorist acts in the US, I think we (New Zealand) should take a leaf out of the Drumpf’s book and ban all visitors from ‘Murica.

    Sorry ’bout that, folks…


  34. Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    1. The wall: Many centuries ago, the Chinese built a sturdy, very long and massive wall to keep nomads such as the Mongols out and it wasn’t successful. Our wall will not be successful either. Desperate people will find a way.

    2. The Women’s March: It is not necessary or even reasonable to expect all people in a march to hold the same views. I’m sure there were many, many different reasons people marched.

    3. The EO: For however short or however long a time it’s in effect, I am against the restriction of people from Muslim countries entering our country. This action has done more harm than good. Over our many years, my husband and I have had numerous friends from Muslim countries, as well as others. A number of them were people escaping tyranny in their own country.

    4. Work Permits and Citizenship: As has been mentioned, the process for getting green cards and/or citizenship by foreigners to our country can be quite onerous. Friends from the former Yugoslavia had green cards but had to wait twelve years before they were allowed to become citizens. This is crazy.

    5. Pro Drumpf: It’s not just rednecks and rabid Republicans who were for the Drumpf. A number of immigrants to our country from the Ukraine were for him. I wouldn’t be surprised if people from other countries with more restrictive governments wouldn’t have appreciated Donald’s strong man facade.

  35. dallos
    Posted January 31, 2017 at 3:08 am | Permalink

    “Originally published in March 2007.

    GR Editor’s Note:

    This interview serves as a reminder regarding the diabolical timeline of America’s hegemonic project.

    It is worth noting that 6 out of these 7 countries (with the exception of Lebanon) identified by General Wesley Clark “to be taken out” are now the object of President Trump’s ban on Muslims’ entry to the US: Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Sudan, Iran and Yemen.

    All of these countries are on the Pentagon’s drawing board. These countries have been directly or indirectly been the object of US aggression. (M. Ch. GR Editor)”

  36. Nick
    Posted January 31, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    On a minor piece of tangential pedantry, there’s not that much difference between asylum seekers and refugees in this context. A refugee is simply an asylum seeker whose bid for asylum has been successful.

  37. Humancentralist
    Posted January 31, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    One thought one might get out of the “Origins of US Terrorism” section is that is not the refugees that become terrorists but their children. So by barring Muslim refugees we are guarding ourselves from their children. Currently most refugees come from the designated countries soooo…….

  38. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 31, 2017 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Nine questions by Douglas K. Murray for opponents of Trump’s ban:

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