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Thursday, September 29, 2016
MRC Throws Right-Wing Think Tank Under the Bus to Defend Trump
Topic: Media Research Center

How important is it to the Media Research Center that Donald Trump get elected president? It's even throwing its fellow conservatives under the bus.

In a Sept. 20 post, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth wrote about the tweet by Donald Trump Jr. in which he "analogized accepting Syrian refugees, some of whom might be terrorist infiltrators, to eating from a bowl of Skittles in which a few pieces of the candy are poisoned." After first complaining that CNN's Chris Cuomo called Trump Jr. for dehumanizing refugees by using the analogy, Wilmouth then attacked the conservative Cato Institute, which coincidentally the week before released data pointing out that  the actual chance of American being killed in a terrorist attack perpetrated by a refugee is one in 3.64 billion per year. Wilmouth was having none of that factual undermining of Trump's anti-immigration agenda, insistsing that Cato used the wrong data:

Although it is true that Trump Jr.'s bowl full of Skittles analogy greatly inflates the numbers on what proportion of refugees are likely to be terrorist infiltrators, the CATO Institute numbers cited by Bump are themselves very misleading in trying to make the likelihood of violent problems seem very tiny.

Instead of trying to estimate how many acts of mass violence in public places might be perpetrated by a small number of terrorist infiltrators, the study focused on the odds that an individual person would die from being killed by a refugee, finding the chances to be less than one out of three billion.


The CATO study -- which examines refugees who entered the country between 1975 and 2015 -- found 20 refugees out of more than three million who turned out to be terrorists. The study did not address whether refugees from a particular region like Syria where the U.S. is in an active war with an enemy that is known for utilizing terrorist attacks in public places night manage to be infiltrated by a larger number of a more determined enemy, with the study leaning on refugees from the past who no doubt came from various regions.

The study also did not address the blatant difference between terrorists killing 10 or 50 or 100 people in a public place, drawing attention and having impact beyond those directly involved, versus the same number of people being killed spread out one a day in completely separate individual crime incidents. Terrorist attacks in public places deserve their own category of analysis because their impact is so much greater.

In other words, Wilmouth wants the data massaged to make the threat from refugees look bigger, even if it's not as big as Trump Jr.'s fraudulent Skittles analogy claims.

Wilmouth didn't mention that Alex Nowrasteh, the author of the Cato paper, explained the reasoning behind his study:

First, last weekend’s terrorists didn’t kill anyone in their attacks. During the time period I studied, 74 percent of all foreign-born terrorists did not murder anyone. We should be grateful that they are so incompetent.

Second, [Minnesota mall shooter Dahir] Adan was a two-year old child when he immigrated with his parents, long before he could harbor the desire to become a terrorist. That’s similar to the case of Shain Duka, Britan Duka and Eljvir Duka, all ethnic Albanians from Macedonia who illegally crossed the Mexican border as young children with their parents in 1984.

The Dukas were three of ten illegal immigrant terrorists in my report and the only three to have crossed the border with Mexico illegally. They were the three conspirators in the planned Fort Dix plot that was foiled by the FBI in 2007. Like Adan and possibly Rahami, they became terrorists at some point after immigrating here and nobody was killed in their failed attacks.


The U.S. government should devote resources to screening immigrants for the purpose of excluding terrorists. Foreign-born terrorists could become deadlier in the future but we should plan for the world we have and react to challenges when they arise rather than exaggerate hazards—especially when such exaggeration comes at a huge cost. The terrorist attacks in New York and Minnesota, which mercifully resulted in no deaths, fit the pattern of incompetent foreign-born lone wolves. Hopefully, Cato’s new report will put the danger from foreign-born terrorism into perspective in the wake of these two failed attacks.

Nowrasteh adds: "Foreign-born terrorists could become deadlier in the future but we should plan for the world we have and react to challenges when they arise rather than exaggerate hazards—especially when such exaggeration comes at a huge cost." But exaggerating hazards is Job 1 at the MRC, especially when the goal is getting Trump elected president -- and it will throw former allies like Cato under the bus to do it.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:44 AM EDT

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