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Trump’s National Security Speech Echoes Decades of Nativist Rhetoric

Trump's national security speech came right out of the organized anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim lobby's playbook.

Donald Trump delivered his national security speech to an audience in Youngstown, Ohio on Monday in what amounted to little more than a fear-mongering tirade that came straight out of the playbook of the organized U.S. anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim movements. Trump’s policies, such as a calling for a ban on immigration from terrorist (think Muslim) hotspots, equating terrorism with Nazism and Communism, and calling for an ideological screening test, are tropes and arguments long used by nativists. The Trump campaign has not been shy about working with anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant organizations and their staff, and his national security agenda clearly reflects their talking points.


John Tanton

“To put these new procedures in place, we will have to temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.”

Trump’s call for a temporary ban on immigrants coming from countries that have a history of exporting terrorism is a common argument in the anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim world. In 2010, the editors of The Social Contract (TSC), an anti-immigrant journal that often publishes white nationalists, called for a ban on all Muslim immigration to the United States. In 2015, the anti-Muslim hate group Center for Security Policy (CSP), which serves as the main think tank for the anti-Muslim movement, released an anti-refugee pamphlet, which also called for a moratorium on Muslim immigration.  Meanwhile, the anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has for years called for a “time out” on all immigration to the United States. FAIR’s founder, white nationalist John Tanton, serves as the publisher of TSC and has a long history of working with racists.


“In the 20th Century, the United States defeated Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. Now, a different threat challenges our world: Radical Islamic Terrorism.”

Trump’s attempts to link Nazism, Communism and Islam are similar to the worldview the organized nativist movement espouses. After TSC received criticism for its 2010 call for a ban on Muslim immigration, white nationalist K.C. McAlpin, the executive director of TSC’s parent company, U.S., Inc., wrote, “Congress has used that power in the past to ban the immigration of Communist Party and National Socialist (Nazi) party members who were deemed to be threats to our national security. This case is no different.”


“In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles–or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law. “

Trump’s proposal to screen out Sharia law advocates is also a common message from anti-Muslim groups. CSP recently published an entire policy paper on this issue, titled, “Stop Importing Jihadists  - A Secure Freedom Strategy Paper.” The paper argues that current U.S. law can be used to vet and exclude “Islamic supremacists” but also calls for changes to the law that support allowing “statements by non-citizens supporting Sharia to be used as grounds for exclusion”; amend the law “to prohibit entry to those who reject the supremacy of the U.S. Constitution” and “ban members of groups that have the avowed goal of replacing or subordinating the U.S. Constitution.” All three proposals sound eerily similar to Trump’s.


“In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.”

As pointed out by the Center for New Community, Trump’s call for an “ideological screening test” was touted by Mark Kirkorian, head of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the anti-immigrant movement’s go-to think tank. Krikorian, wrote in December 2015 in his regular National Review column that, “The narrowest solution would be to restore the principle of “ideological exclusion” to U.S. immigration law. With the end of the Cold War — which too many imagined to be the End of History — we eliminated the legal bar to enemies of America who were not actual members of terrorist organizations or card-carrying members of totalitarian political parties.”

Criticizes Trump's proposal as a 'crude, sledgehammer approach.'

Trump regularly cites statistics from both CIS and CSP in his speeches and his national security speech was no different, citing a blog post by CIS staffer James Edwards.

But Trump’s ties to the established nativist movement are a lot stronger than just a few citations. Two of Trump’s key national security advisors are activists in the anti-Muslim movement. Joseph E. Schmitz serves as a senior fellow with CSP. He has been a guest on Frank Gaffney’s Secure Freedom Radio show and in June of 2013, he spoke at a CSP event and CSP published a book penned by Schmitz and he has co-authored of two CSP reports:  “Shariah: The Threat to America,” and “The Secure Freedom Strategy: A Plan for Victory Over the Global Jihad Movement.”

Walid Phares, another of Trump’s national security advisors, has spoken at several events organized by CSP, including a National Security Group Lunch in February 2015, and another similar event in December of that year. He has also been a guest on Frank Gaffney’s Secure Freedom Radio show and he was also a guest on an ACT! for America series in 2011. ACT! is the largest grassroots anti-Muslim hate group in America, run by Brigitte Gabriel. Trump himself organized an anti-Iran deal rally with Ted Cruz in 2015, which was co-sponsored by CSP, and he spoke at one of CSP’s National Security Action Summit’s in Iowa in May of 2015, a month before he announced his bid for the White House.

Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the first U.S. Senator to endorse Trump, has been a key bridge to the nativist world. For years, Sessions has cultivated relationships with anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant groups and has also spearheaded efforts to stop immigration reform. Sessions, who is also a national security advisor for Trump, stepped aside as Stephen Miller, a key Sessions staffer, left join the Trump campaign, where he has served a senior policy advisor. Miller came to Sessions on the recommendation of David Horowitz, a man who has donated millions of dollars to anti-Muslim organizations over the past decade.

Another important figure in Trump’s campaign is Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the man responsible for drafting Trump’s immigration strategy before it was adopted into this year’s GOP platform. Kobach works for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of FAIR. Last year, Kobach addressed a gathering of TSC Press, the same group that, like Trump, has called for a ban on Muslim immigration, before following it up by comparing Islam to Communism and Nazism. TSC, IRLI and FAIR were all founded by Tanton, a man who is surely pleased by the GOP nominee’s mainstreaming of his ideas.

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