Banning Muslims – Knee-Jerk Reactions vs. Critical Thinking

Donald Trump has recently announced that as president, he would use executive order to ban Muslims from entering the country temporarily.

As an atheist, I feel all religion can be dangerous if taken to extremes. But that being said, there can be no doubt that around the world, in the 21st century, the overwhelming majority of atrocities committed in the name of religion are committed by people of the Muslim faith.

Any time a tragedy happens, we as a people tend to believe we should try to analyze the problem that caused the tragedy and fix it. If the problem is too big for any one of us to fix, the non-libertarian population often feel government should fix it for them.

But let’s apply a little critical thinking to Trump’s idea of banning foreign Muslims from entering the United States.

How exactly do we go about banning all Muslims? If a Muslim applies to come to America, do the authorities ask that Muslim if they’re Muslim?visa_application_rejection[1]

While an honest Muslim might answer truthfully, knowing it would preclude them from coming, wouldn’t a radical Muslim intending to kill Americans, or a desperate but peaceful Muslim hoping to flee a war-zone,  just lie to get into the United States?

Quite similarly to the “If guns are outlawed, only criminals will have them” argument, if Muslims are banned from entering the United States, only deceitful Muslims will enter.

There is no DNA test that tells you what religion someone is—religion isn’t genetic. There is nothing science has to offer to detect one’s religion.

Lie detectors have been proven time and time again to be faulty at best. Even physiologist John Larson, Ph.D., one of the early inventors of the lie detector, regretted ever inventing the device. Before his death in 1965, he stated, “Beyond my expectation, through uncontrollable factors, this scientific investigation became for practical purposes a Frankenstein’s monster, which I have spent over 40 years in combating.”

Joe Larson administering a Lie Detector test
Dr. Larson administering a Lie Detector test

The 1st amendment states that, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

By the letter of the Constitution, the president could in-fact pass such an order, because it isn’t Congress passing a law, it’s the president passing an executive order.

So while some have put forth the constitutionality argument, I would have to argue it is a non sequitur.

U.S. Constitution: 1st Amendment
U.S. Constitution: 1st Amendment

But, the Supreme Court continues to allow Blue Laws which are clearly an establishment of religion, proving the letter of the Constitution isn’t always their ultimate guide.

So it’s quite possible that the Supreme Court would strike such an executive order down based on the “principles” of the first amendment, versus the letter of it, as they tend to err on the side of secularism these days—something I typically appreciate.

The Supreme Court Of The United States
The Supreme Court Of The United States

So now we understand that if Trump wrote such an order, there’s no way to know who is and isn’t a Muslim. Even if the Supreme Court didn’t strike it down as an executive order, if Congress tried to pass it as law, it would most assuredly get struck down then.

But also, it is important to consider that even if such a law did somehow evade the Supreme Court’s wrath, and scientists invented a Muslim detector that really worked; when exactly is “temporary” over?

We’ve been fighting the war on terror since 2001, and it’s not like there are any fewer radical Muslims killing people. While the radicals may be a small minority at best, if he’s passing such an order to eliminate the threat, the threat won’t be eliminated until all Muslims are dead—an idea I assume most people would not support.

Because much like it’s impossible to identify a Muslim with any certainty if they choose to hide it, it’s equally impossible to identify a radical Muslim hell-bent on killing innocent civilians they deem to be infidels deserving of death.

Hopefully, Trump and his supporters will come to their senses and realize this isn’t a workable plan, and instead look for ways to better screen all people coming into the United States. But they should also understand that with freedom comes danger, as illustrated by our gun laws—something most Trump supporters do support, and anyone else who is serious about liberty.

So if we’re OK with one danger, we should be OK with the other, lest we be hypocrites.

While I don’t claim to have the answer; if we’re seeking one, I’d at least like to know there’s a bit of logic and reason behind the ideas being proposed, because this one has very little.

“If you see something, say something,” is a much simpler notion, it’s something we can all do to help government officials find these people. Exercising our 2nd amendment rights to arm ourselves so we can take down any would-be killers in our midst if we encounter one is pretty simple too.

Both are far more likely to be effective and far more doable than Trump’s entirely unworkable notion.

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2 thoughts on “Banning Muslims – Knee-Jerk Reactions vs. Critical Thinking”

  1. “If you see something, say something,” is a much simpler notion, it’s something we can all do to help government officials find these people.”

    Of course, now it’s muslims. Next time it’s libertarians or other people deemed “enemy of the state”. I don’t find it very comfortable that as libertarians we should “help” government officials find people by spying on each other.
    And it would be like carrying buckets of water from one sea to the next anyway, since it is government officials themselves that are mostly creating the terror threat with their aggressive foreign policy and endless wars. Not to mention their utter stupidity when they take sides.

    So, government mostly creates the threat, and then we as libertarians are supposed to help them by spying on each other and more and more becoming a police-and-surveillance state where pretty shortly we will be ratting out other “threats” designated as such by government?

    How about ratting out people you have a personal beef with? Or ratting out muslims simply because you hate them regardless of whether they act suspiciously?

    I do not consider “if you see something, say something” to be a very logical method if only for its utter vagueness, and for its fighting of symptoms rather than the disease itself. Also, the helping of government with its policy may be logical from the statist point of view, but not from the libertarian one. Especially if such help encourages government not to change its ill-causing policies at all and exacerbates the domestic, decidedly unlibertarian problems they cause.

    I consider there to be only one libertarian solution, and that is to limit the attraction of countries to immigrants to voluntarily settle here (aka abolish the welfare state) and to limit reasons to attack it (aka end the aggressive wars and imperialist, meddlesome foreign policy, and to allow complete armament of people so they can defend themselves everywhere).
    Aside from this solution, the only acceptable position to take is to NOT actually help make things worse by supporting government in its increasingly fascistic agenda.

    1. I’m not an anarchist. I believe government’s role is to protect our rights. If you see suspicious activity, the FBI is far better at investigating it than anyone else. I think it’s the one thing we should support government in doing, and get them the hell out of vice laws, business regulations, and other things they shouldn’t be doing.

Drop some genius on me here.

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