Donald Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from the United States has proved popular from the beginning. When he first articulated it following the Paris terrorist attacks in November, he surged in the polls and hasn’t slumped since. And while progressives might want to believe the appeal of Trump’s divisive idea is limited to a small subset of conservatives, a new poll indicates Islamophobia actually runs deep across the spectrum of the American electorate.
The Morning Consult survey, conducted in the days following the Brussels terrorist attacks, shows 50 percent of American voters supporting “a temporary ban on all Muslims traveling to the United States,” while 49 percent favor Ted Cruz’s proposal to implement “additional law enforcement patrols of Muslim neighborhoods.” More than 70 percent of Republicans favor both of those proposals, but about one-third of Democrats do as well.
Trump and Cruz have seized upon the Brussels attacks to fear-monger about Muslims, but the numbers indicate Americans are seven times as likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than they are by a Muslim terrorist. Another recent poll showed Americans have a double standard about judging whether self-identified Christians and Muslims are committing violence in the name of their religion — only about 19 percent of respondents said they believe Christians who commit acts of violence in the name of their faith are authentic Christians, while nearly twice as many respondents (37 percent) believe Muslim perpetrators are acting in the name of their religion.
Cruz’s proposal to have law enforcement patrol Muslim neighborhoods is also based on mistaken assumptions. Concerns about constitutionality aside, a similar program implemented after the September 11 attacks by the New York Police Department was not successful. In fact, the department has said that in more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations, and cataloging mosques, the NYPD never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation.
A recent peer-reviewed study published in “Psychological Science” might shed light on why a third of Democrats surveyed in the days after the Brussels attack support Islamophobic policies. The study, which focused on the July 7, 2005 bombing in London, found that in the wake of terrorist attacks, “liberals think more like like conservatives” and develop prejudicial attitudes toward Muslims and immigrants.