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Trump proposal to ban Muslims from US relies on debunked poll from pro-Israel think tank

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Yesterday Donald Trump released a shocking proposal to bar Muslims from entering the United States. Trump’s idea rests on research from the Center for Security Policy, a neocon think tank run by Frank Gaffney who has a long history of pro-Israel advocacy and has been called “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Right Web points out that Gaffney has already had influence over the 2016 Republican presidential race:

Frank Gaffney, director of the hardline neoconservative Center for Security Policy (CSP), is a leading anti-Islamic pundit in the United States who advocates controversial weapons programs, a right-wing Israeli line on Mideast security, and an expansive “war on terror” targeting “Islamofascists.” Gaffney has been an advocate of militarist U.S. foreign policies since the 1970s, getting his start working on the staff of Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson (D-WA) before joining the Ronald Reagan Pentagon in the early 1980s working under Richard Perle.

Several 2016 Republican presidential candidates generated controversy when they attended a Gaffney-organized conference on national security in July 2015. Attendees included former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, former New York governor George Pataki, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Also present at the event was hawkish former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton. One observer remarked that the conference was hosted by “an anti-Islam activist with a penchant for government conspiracy theories.”

Trump’s call echoes one made by Gaffney himself following the recent Paris attacks:

Trump’s statement quotes a July 2015 poll from the Center for Security Policy and claims that 25% of Muslims living in the United States “agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad.” The poll, which received much coverage in the right-wing media, was debunked as soon as it was released. Writing in the Huffington Post Nathan Lean and Jordan Denari explained:

this survey should not be taken seriously. It comes from an organization with a history of producing dubious claims and “studies” about the threat of shariah, and was administered using an unreliable methodology. Its proponents seize upon its shoddy findings, exaggerating and misrepresenting them to American audiences, and falsely claim that the survey data represents the views of Muslims nationwide.

Lean and Denari continue:

Both Gaffney and [Bill] O’Reilly claim that the poll’s findings are representative of nationwide Muslim public opinion. But this assertion is untrue.

CSP’s survey was a non-probability based, opt-in online survey, administered by the conservative group the Polling Company/Woman Trend, a small Washington-based agency that has collaborated with CSP on other occasions to produce surveys about Islam and Muslims. (We learned this after reaching out to the Polling Company to get more details about their methodology, which wasn’t released to the public when Gaffney began promoting the survey’s findings.)

According to the body that sets ethical standards for polling, the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), opt-in surveys cannot be considered representative of the intended population, in this case Muslims. The AAPOR says that in these cases, “the pollster has no idea who is responding to the question” and that these kind of “polls do not have such a ‘grounded statistical tie’ to the population.”

So when O’Reilly and guest Zuhdi Jasser pointed to this survey and made claims about what “25% of three million, which is hundreds of thousands of Muslims” believe, it’s not only a misleading statement — it’s outright false.

This survey does not represent the views of American Muslims. It only represents the views of the 600 Muslims that it polled.

Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy has been at the center of the effort to bring anti-Muslim bigotry into the American political mainstream, and Gaffney and other pro-Israeli activists have played a central role in several notable anti-Muslim campaigns.

As Donna Nevel and Elly Bulkin’s research has revealed the same funders are supporting these attacks on Muslims are also funding right-wing Israel advocacy. As Nevel and Bulkin write:

This money-Islamophobia-Israel network matters, in part, because of its impact on—and strong relationship with—state policies and institutions. In addition to furthering a rabidly anti-Muslim climate, its members help bolster the state-sponsored Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian policies adopted and promoted by the U.S. government. If we fail to examine the Islamophobia network in all its dimensions, we bring an incomplete analysis to the essential work of challenging Islamophobia.

Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Executive Editor of

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20 Responses

  1. Boomer on December 8, 2015, 10:41 am

    Thanks for this important report. I hope this truth will be widely reported by the mainstream media, but at best that will not erase the harm done, for, as we all know, “the influence of the corrective does not extend as far as the injury of the falsehood: ‘for falsehood will fly from Maine to Georgia, while truth is pulling her boots on.'”

  2. Kathleen on December 8, 2015, 12:13 pm

    Trump is serious trouble. It is Trump VS. the established and elite GOP. Trump VS the MSM. Have to admit like that he is calling out MSM. However MSNBC and other outlets persistently misquote him. This morning on MSNBC Morning Joe Trump stated several times that( his what I believe and clearly MW does racist stance on Muslims) he would want such a racist religious test for Visas to be “temporary” or “until our countries Representatives can figure out what is going on” Of course in the next hour of MSNBC they never repeated the full sentence. Of course this religious test for a visa is racist. We are not hearing the same pundits smashing Cruz for implying that a nuke “does sand glow at night” should be used in the middle east.

    MSNBC’s contributor Mark Halpern must have tried to hook Trump into saying he would support “internment camps” three times.

    Tough for the GOP to admit Trump has tapped into a sizable percentage of the GOP’s electorate. If they are not successful at piling on and knocking him out, which it does not look like they will be able to do he has to pivot if he wins the nomination. He will pivot and can just as easily get the support of want to be haters in the Dem Party.

    • John O on December 8, 2015, 12:28 pm

      “…“until our countries Representatives can figure out what is going on.”

      This bit of the soundbite was broadcast on the BBC News this morning. My immediate reaction was to think, “You’re standing for President. You – if necessary, briefed by your staff – should know what’s going on.”

    • lysias on December 8, 2015, 12:44 pm

      Every media attack on Trump raises his numbers, because it confirms the opinion of his supporters that he opposes and is opposed by the Washington establishment. That validates him in their minds.

      • Citizen on December 8, 2015, 12:58 pm

        Some are opining that Trump has reached his highest level of support. And that many who support him now, or at least like his act as lightening rod against all status quo PTB, won’t actually go out and vote when the time comes.

    • italian ex-pat on December 8, 2015, 6:26 pm

      A humorous take on Trump in a Daily Kos article on December 2nd, titled “Why I am now 100 percent sure Trump does not want to be president”.

      The author, Ian Reifiwitz, theorizes that Trump entered the race never believing his campaign would last this long, let alone that he would be the Rep. front-runner. This makes perfect sense given Trump’s immense ego: another challenge to meet, another feather in his cap, ‘contender for the US presidency!’ Not serious about it, just to prove that he could.

      Following this premise, one can imagine his discomfort at finding himself at the front of the pack. Hey guys, I was only kidding around! And so he spews one statement more radical and offensive than the last, thinking to himself ” what do I have to do to get you idiots to stop supporting me?”

      Pretty funny huh? – as the author intended it to be. Unfortunately, even if Trump tossed his hat in the ring as a ‘dare’, he is now so energized and so in awe of himself from all the media attention that the dare, if it ever was that, has turned into a real passionate endeavor. And, like everyone else, I am left wondering how long before we, the people, are going to knock this dangerous buffoon off the stage.

  3. Hanna Kawas on December 8, 2015, 4:49 pm

    In response to Trump’s Racist remarks, “former Vancouver city planner Brent Toderian responded on Twitter that the developers building the Trump Tower in Vancouver (Canada) should remove his name from the building.”

    • RockyMissouri on December 9, 2015, 3:25 pm

      Looks like BDS is having an effect on Trump!! Time for his kids to intervene…!! And save the brand before it becomes too toxic!!

  4. MHughes976 on December 8, 2015, 6:13 pm

    Is Trump seriously suggesting that people entering the United States should be asked to make a formal statement of what their religion is? What happens if they say ‘I am of the true, pure faith?’ or ‘I reject all nonsense purporting to be of divine origin?’ Would it become a criminal offence to attend a ceremony which US law regards as impure? Or nonsensical?
    I’ve thought some sympathy for Trump was creeping in to our conversation here and hope that it will vanish away. His claim not to need money is a pose and a ploy, not a true statement. Everyone embarking on an indefinitely expensive project needs more money all the time.

    • DoubleStandard on December 9, 2015, 12:30 am

      Just ban based on country; no oath required.

      • MHughes976 on December 9, 2015, 9:29 am

        You mean majority religion in country of origin? I suppose you could do that but it would be a remarkably inefficient way of excluding either dangerous people or people who happen to be Muslims – let alone of permitting free passage to those deserving it.

      • diasp0ra on December 9, 2015, 9:39 am


        How would you do that in the case of Singapore and another million countries that have more than one religion?

      • eljay on December 9, 2015, 9:42 am

        || DoubleStandard: Just ban based on country; no oath required. ||

        Sounds reasonable…until the ban is applied to Israel, at which time what was reasonable is suddenly anti-Semitism! and Jew-hatred! and Holocaust!

    • Kathleen on December 9, 2015, 12:19 pm

      No “sympathy”. However amazed by how he is raking the MSM over the coals. How they have endlessly promoted him via their endless coverage of every outrageous thing he says. If I were him I would certainly put together an ad of every talking head predicting this was the statement that “would take him down” So many of them.

      Would totally use Clintons vote for the 2002 Iraq war, pushing for military intervention in Libya, arming rebels in Syria with no regard to how many Muslim lives would be destroyed by these actions against her. Clintons decisions , votes helped birth IS. She has continued with the PNAC’s plans for the middle east.

      With the exception of the Iran deal. Which she did not come out in support until she had decided it was timely for her campaign.

      Rachel Maddow had Bernie on last night….Breath of fresh air compared to other candidates

  5. lonely rico on December 8, 2015, 8:01 pm

    Will Durst 2015 No. 1 comedic story –

    The hot-air, force of nature that is Donald Trump.
    The candidate for every voter who just couldn’t cozy up to the intellectual elitism of Sarah Palin.

  6. Philip Munger on December 8, 2015, 11:22 pm

    Next thing you know, Trump will be dumping Melania for Pamela Geller.

  7. YoniFalic on December 9, 2015, 2:08 am

    I am not sure of the politics of those sponsoring the website, but this article from Commentary may indicate the real attitudes of an important segment of US “Jews” toward democracy.

    Unfortunately, one must have a subscription to Commentary to read this article at the Commentary website.

    GABRIEL SCHOENFELD published “Jews, Muslims, and Democrats” in the JAN. 1, 2007 issue. Focus in particular on the p. 23, second column, the paragraph that starts “Which brings us back to American Muslims.”

  8. John O on December 9, 2015, 3:13 am

    Another problem for Trump – who can he choose as running mate now that Adolf Hitler is dead?

  9. James Robertson on December 12, 2015, 9:25 am

    I appreciate this piece but there seems to be a misunderstanding regarding this poll. You quote this “This survey does not represent the views of American Muslims. It only represents the views of the 600 Muslims that it polled.”
    This statement appears to be complete misinformation as it has already been made clear earlier in your article that “The AAPOR says that in these cases, “the pollster has no idea who is responding to the question”
    Therefore there is no evidence and no reason to believe that any of the respondents were necessarily Muslims, anyone could have responded and the most likely scenario is that the staff of the polling firm simply anonymously filled in the data as per their client’s requirements.
    Regardless, the statement that “the poll represents (only) the views of 600 US Muslims” is not a factual statement.
    This is disinformation and I would urge you to correct this error or at least clarify the basis for what appears to be an erroneous claim.
    If the people running the poll have no idea who is responding it cannot surely be claimed that the respondents were Muslim.

    • annie on December 12, 2015, 12:23 pm

      james, in the sentence “The AAPOR says that in these cases, “the pollster has no idea who is responding to the question” there is an embed in the word “cases”, it leads here:

      the information in the embed, therefore, should be taken into consideration when analyzing the statement “It only represents the views of the 600 Muslims that it polled “.

      although you could be correct when you write “Therefore there is no evidence and no reason to believe that any of the respondents were necessarily Muslims” the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) is not challenging the results of the poll because they doubt the respondents were muslim — they are challenging the poll because there’s no evidence the respondents are a cross section of muslims. and in the embed it explains why.

      When selecting a sample, a pollster needs to make sure that any adult in the population [of muslims] has a chance of making it into the sample. This is the basis underlying any probability method: establishing a mechanism so that every element in the defined population has a known probability of selection; that is, every person has some chance of being selected to participate. Now, in some probability methods every person has an equal probability and in some they have non-equal probability: all that is necessary to ensure representativeness of the population is that it is a known probability and that no one is left out.

      (more at the link) plus, earlier in the segment you’ve sited it explained

      CSP’s survey was a non-probability based, opt-in online survey, administered by the conservative group the Polling Company/Woman Trend, a small Washington-based agency that has collaborated with CSP on other occasions to produce surveys about Islam and Muslims

      this likely means the group (conservative group the Polling Company/Woman Trend) has a pool of muslims it targets that are not representative — as in targeting a christian population but only from a pool of elderly conservative evangelical church members.

      there’s more info here under “LOADED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS”

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