On Friday, Trump issued a sweeping executive order entitled "Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States." Trump justified the order by explaining:
"The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States. Perhaps in no instance was that more apparent than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans. And while the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks to better detect would-be terrorists from receiving visas, these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States."
The temporary travel ban targets seven Muslim-majority countries, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. It also permanently bars refugees from Syria. Unacknowledged is the fact that since 9/11, no one has been killed in the United States by an immigrant - or the son or daughter of an immigrant - from any of the seven countries. Left off the list are the countries the September 11 terrorists actually cane from -- and with which Trump has business ties. Also missing is any serious explanation of the security rationale for the blanket ban. The executive action has sparked a firestorm of criticism around the world.
Trump says he wants to do "extreme vetting," but the existing vetting process is already one of the best in the world. According to the CATO Institute, you have a 0.000003% chance of dying in an attack by a foreign-born terrorist. Nine people have been killed a year, on average, by Muslim extremists in the US since 9/11. 12,843 people are killed a year, on average, by guns in the US. 37,000 people die every year, on average, in traffic accidents in the US.
How did it come to this? Simply put, Trump has fanned the flames of fear to such an extent that he apparently can no longer see through his own smoke. During the campaign, he claimed Hillary Clinton would "import generations of terrorism, extremism and radicalism into your schools and throughout your communities." "When I'm elected president," he said, "we will suspend the Syrian refugee program and we will keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country." In other words, you should fear Muslims, whose religion many people believe spawns terrorism.
Prey on the fear and anxieties of your supporters, you can offer yourself as the solution and you might get yourself elected president. Create a bleak dystopian universe in the minds of people who are already afraid, and you can exploit it to your advantage. As president, Trump could unify Americans by acknowledging the facts; instead he stokes the fear.
Now that Trump has been swept into power by means of the dark vision of America he promoted, he is wasting no time exploiting the situation by creating policy based on the dangerous fantasies he somehow convinced many good Americans to believe in.