In an email statement distributed to the press Monday, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump announced his new plan for preventing terrorist attacks on domestic soil. He's sunk to an all-time low, despite the bevy of inaccurate and incendiary remarks he's made in the past few months. In the statement, Trump suggested a ban on Muslims entering the United States, citing curious statistics from the Pew Research Center and the Center for Security Policy. Trump pointed to anti-American sentiment among Muslim immigrants as indirect proof that the waves of Syrian refugees attempting to enter the country are a danger to civilians.
"Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension," Trump wrote. "Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life." He added that various archaic Islamic practices could prove deadly for American citizens if large swaths of the global Muslim population were allowed past U.S. borders, and once again said that if he were elected president, he would "make America great again," reiterating his campaign's official tagline.
Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the billionaire business mogul, confirmed Monday that the email had been sent by Trump’s campaign. When pressed by The New York Times about what had prompted the aggressive stance, she stated that Trump said “death." According to Hicks, the ban would also extend to Muslim-Americans currently traveling abroad. “Mr. Trump says, 'everyone’ [is included in the ban]."
In his statement, Trump specifically cited a prominent study disseminated by the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a think tank which has critical views of Islam and a strong connection to the Tea Party. In June of this year, the CSP released a poll which claimed to show that "[51 percent of] Muslims in America [believed they] should have the choice of being governed according to shariah." According to the Center's numbers, an additional 25 percent of Muslim-Americans believed that "violence against Americans here in the United States [could] be justified as part of the global jihad."
That study, however, was later panned by Georgetown University's Muslim-Christian Bridge Initiative as "grounded in bias" and "riddled with flaws," given that the organization had only surveyed 600 self-described Muslims. In other words, it's a less-than-reliable indicator of the nearly three million Muslim-Americans living in the United States at present.
"Since the early 2000s, CSP has generated dozens of occasional papers, blogs, and reports that fixate on shariah or other allegedly nefarious topics related to Islam," the group wrote in a response on its official website. "Often, they are loosely sourced or entirely unsubstantiated, relying instead on a furtive web of connections or, in one case, a 24-year-old document written by a lone Muslim activist that has since been roundly discredited."
According to the Bridge Initiative, the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), which determines ethical standards for polling in the United States, has made it clear that "opt-in" surveys like the one conducted by CSP "cannot be considered representative of the intended population." Not only was the survey faulty, they suggested, but it was also dishonest.
While Trump may believe that he's doing the country a favor by disseminating statistics and facts which support his narrative, the GOP candidate was in reality doing himself a disservice by citing flawed studies and pushing a radicalized agenda of his own. And his fellow Republicans seemed more than happy to use the opportunity for their own advantage.
"This is just more of the outrageous divisiveness that characterizes his every breath," said Ohio Gov. John Kasich in a statement Monday. "[It's just] another reason why he is entirely unsuited to lead the United States."