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❝ Donald Trump’s foreign-policy speech on Monday was more staid than some of his recent outings, but it didn’t necessarily make any more sense…In his speech, Donald Trump proposed an ideological test for immigrants, one that would allow in “only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society.” Is it possible to implement a test like that, and would it be a good idea?
The practical reality is that you are dealing with people who, if they’re fairly sophisticated, are going to almost immediately learn what to say. So unless you intend to tie them to a polygraph, which is a notoriously uncertain device, you’re assuming that you are basically only going to catch the inexperienced or the stupid…
With groups like ISIS or al Qaeda or any of its offshoots, they’ve gotten very, very sophisticated in training. So you are essentially focusing in many ways on the innocent and ignoring the guilty.
❝ Are there more effective ways to screen out people who might be terrorists?
Usually the only way you can really know is through background checks and by tying the data uncovered in intelligence efforts that track terrorists and terrorist training to the screening process. It’s not something where people can pass some kind of magic test of their ideology.
You also have to recognize that part of this is not confronting people who come to this country with intolerance and ignorance of their faith. If you are going to avoid alienating them, you are going to have to show some understanding of the fact that Islam is one of the major faiths of the world…
❝ Mr. Trump mentioned shutting down ISIS’ internet access. Is that possible, and if so, is it wise?
It really is not possible. There are a virtually infinite number of ways that you can disguise who you are and where the message is coming from. There is no magic sign that says, “I’m from ISIS.” The problem you also are getting into here is that to some extent we use the internet to identify some of these people.
Lots more of this in the whole blog post. None of it unexpected. Like many topics considered controversial, support for unworkable solutions comes from the ignorant and the stupid. It’s become a defining question online. Are the people commenting stupid or ignorant?
As ignorant as Donald Trump often is – about anything other than American bankruptcy law – he knows his supporters generally fall into one of those camps. He doesn’t have to worry about whether or not his so-called solutions are legitimate or lawful. They just have to sound powerful to someone who is pissed-off and xenophobic.