In Defence of Liberty

Driven by data; ridden with liberty.

Disconnected

disconnected-smswigart

There are numerous myths and misunderstanding permeating American politics. (Edited: smswigart)

American economist Thomas Sowell wrote [1]:

Often, in politics, it doesn’t matter what the facts are. What matters is how well you make your case to the voting public.

In the race for the United States presidential nominations for 2016, numerous myths and misconceptions have percolated throughout the political discussion. Donald Trump’s latest proposal to temporarily halt all Muslim immigration into the U.S. have generated a bevy of such myths.

“Japan banned Muslims”

One claim is that Japan banned Muslims, or all propagation of Islam. It is asserted that ‘lefties’ or the ‘mainstream media’ are hypocritical for not highlighting this fact. One user wrote:

Hey, lefties.
Japan banned Muslims and they’ve never regretted it.
So… do you despise Japan as you do Trump?
Hypocritical jackasses.

A common image claims that “Japan is the only nation that does not give citizenship to Muslims” and “propagation of Islam in Japan is banned”, among other statements.

This would certainly be news for Muslims going to Tokyo Camii, which has space for around 1,200 worshippers [2]. These claims have been described as “nothing but malicious falsehood” by Kumiko Yagi, a professor at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies Graduate School [3].

disconnected-tokyo-camii-nippon

Tokyo Camii definitely exists. (Source: Nippon)

These assertions are easily checked. The image claims that “Japan is the only country in the world with a negligible number of embassies in Islamic countries”. The Japan government lists all of its foreign embassies [4], including in countries as Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. The image claims that “Japan is the only nation that does not give citizenship to Muslims”, but the Japanese Ministry of Justice lists no religious criteria for naturalisation [5].

“Same exact idea”

Another misconception is an equivalency between President Carter’s ban on Iranian visas and Donald Trump’s proposal.

In November 1979, Iranian students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, detaining more than 50 Americans. The embassy was targeted by Iranian revolutionaries, overthrowing the Shah. These diplomats were held hostage for 444 days, in a major international incident [6].

The suspension of visas to Iranian citizens was part of a wider series of sanctions against the Iranian government, including a ban on all Iranian oil imports, and trade embargoes [7]. Refusing to issue visas on the basis of nationality, during a period of international turmoil, is morally and logistically different to doing so on the basis of religion, with a vague end: “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on” [8].

“Born in the United States”

Public Policy Polling found [9], in central estimates from a September 2015 poll, that 54% of Republicans believe that President Barack Obama is a Muslim. Only 29% believed that Barack Obama was born in the United States. On this latter question, where the President’s birthplace has been previously questioned by Donald Trump, 26% of Republicans were not sure: a plurality (44%) do not believe the President was born in the United States.

When people readily declare their annexation from the ‘mainstream media’, they erode this essential grasp on facts and historical understanding. Numerous myths and strange beliefs permeates politics.

References

[1] Sowell, T., 2011. A Republican Showdown. Creators. Available from: http://www.creators.com/conservative/thomas-sowell/a-republican-showdown.html [Accessed: 19th December 2015]

[2] Nippon, 2013. Tokyo Camii: Japan’s Biggest Mosque. Available from: http://www.nippon.com/en/features/c01301/ [Accessed: 19th December 2015]

[3] Jacobson, L., 2015. Viral graphic says Japan keeps out radical Islam through strong restrictions on Muslims. Polifact. Available from: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/nov/17/viral-image/viral-graphic-says-japan-keeps-out-radical-islam-t/ [Accessed: 19th December 2015]

[4] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2015. Websites of Japanese Embassies, Consulates and Permanent Missions. Available from: http://www.mofa.go.jp/about/emb_cons/mofaserv.html [Accessed: 19th December 2015]

[5] Ministry of Justice of Japan, 2015. The Nationality Law. Available from: http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/tnl-01.html [Accessed: 19th December 2015]

[6] U.S. Office of the Historian, Year not published. The Iranian Hostage Crisis. Available from: https://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/short-history/iraniancrises [Accessed: 19th December 2015]

[7] The Iran Primer, 2010. . Available from: http://iranprimer.usip.org/resource/us-sanctions [Accessed: 19th December 2015]

[8] Trump, D. J., 2015. Donald J. Trump Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration. Available from: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/donald-j.-trump-statement-on-preventing-muslim-immigration [Accessed: 19th December 2015]

[9] Public Policy Polling, 2015. Trump Supporters think Obama is a Muslim born in Another Country. Available from: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2015/PPP_Release_National_90115.pdf [Accessed: 19th December 2015]

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One comment on “Disconnected

  1. Alonzo Weisz
    June 1, 2016

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