Trump's Desire To Track “Honor Killings” Echoes The Xenophobia Of Breitbart And Bannon, And It’s Not Grounded In Reality
Research ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ
President Donald Trump’s new Muslim ban calls on the government to publish information regarding “acts of gender-based violence against women, including so-called ‘honor killings,’ in the United States by foreign nationals.” This order adopts an Islamophobic narrative pushed by conservative outlet Breitbart.com, which was overseen by Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon, but reports suggest that honor killings are not at all common in the United States.
Trump’s Executive Order Instructs The Government To Publish Information About “So-Called ‘Honor Killings’” In The US By Foreign Nationals
Politico: “Far-Right Conservative Activists Often Focus On Honor Killings As An Example Of The Potential “Islamization” Of America Posed By Allowing Muslim Immigrants Into The U.S.” On March 6, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that instructs the United States government to publish information on “acts of gender-based violence against women, including so-called ‘honor killings,’ in the United States by foreign nationals.” According to a report from Politico, “It wasn’t clear how the administration plans to define ‘gender-based violence’ or how it expects to determine what is or isn't an honor killing,” and the administration contends that “nothing in this executive order has anything to do with any particular faith.” But, as the article explained, “far-right conservative activists often focus on honor killings as an example of the potential “Islamization” of America posed by allowing Muslim immigrants into the U.S.” From Politico’s March 6 report:
It’s a quick line, but it leaps out like few others in the revised travel ban President Donald Trump issued Monday.
The American government, the order says, will start publicizing information about “acts of gender-based violence against women, including so-called ‘honor killings,’ in the United States by foreign nationals.”
The statement is part of a broader section that pledges the U.S. government will begin releasing data on terrorism-related offenses committed by immigrants.
The administration strongly denies the new order, which temporarily bars refugees and travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries, targets any particular religious group.
“Nothing in this executive order has anything to do with any particular faith, so any story stating or suggesting otherwise would be completely wrong,” said Michael Short, a White House press aide. “This administration strongly believes that gender-based violence in all of its forms has no place in this country.”
“Honor killings” are believed to be rare in the U.S. Scholars of Islam say there’s no religious justification for honor killings, and that the roots of the crime are often more about cultural traditions than anything else.
Still, far-right conservative activists often focus on honor killings as an example of the potential “Islamization” of America posed by allowing Muslim immigrants into the U.S.
It wasn’t clear how the administration plans to define “gender-based violence” or how it expects to determine what is or isn't an honor killing. [Politico, 3/6/17]
Trump Focuses On “Tragic But Vanishingly Rare” “Honor Killings” In The US While Eliminating Programs For Domestic Violence
New York Magazine: In The United States, “There’s Effectively No Evidence That Honor Killings Are Common At All.” According to New York magazine’s Jesse Singal, “there’s effectively no evidence that honor killings are common at all” in the United States. Singal noted that “one of the only (if not the only) studies attempting to estimate how prevalent that crime is” found that the “number of honor killings nationwide” -- 23 to 27, according to the study -- “doesn’t justify making this a special thing,” ““unless the real goal is to gin up fears of Muslims, migrants, or both.” [New York Magazine, 3/6/17]
The Daily Beast: “Trump Is Focusing On A Tragic But Vanishingly Rare Phenomenon In An Attempt To Stoke Fear Of The Foreign.” The Daily Beast’s Erin Gloria Ryan called Trump’s call to publish information on honor killings in the United States “xenophobia ... repackaged as feminism,” and wrote that “Violence against women is always unacceptable, but whether an immigrant or a weak-chinned member of the god-fearing Duggar family is doing it shouldn’t make a difference.” Ryan concluded that Trump’s “citation of violence against women as a reason to fear immigrants is a cynical attempt to disguise [the administration’s] true motives: cultivating Steve Bannon-style white nationalism in the American populace.” From The Daily Beast’s March 6 article:
Trump is focusing on a tragic but vanishingly rare phenomenon in an attempt to stoke fear of the foreign.
Of course, this isn’t the first time xenophobia has been repackaged as feminism. A handful of states have attempted to enact bans on sex-selective abortion. Proponents of said bans insisted that the practice was a serious problem among certain communities. As with the “certain” foreigners implicated in this week’s executive order, the implied meaning in the term “certain” was, of course, nonwhite.
To get another peek into how feminist language is being manipulated to justify anti-foreigner sentiment, one need look no further than Breitbart’s coverage of “Muslim migration.” A person could spend an entire afternoon perusing the site’s diligent documentation of every time a Muslim man was responsible for a violent act in a country in which he was not born, especially if those acts are against women.
A media diet consisting partially of Breitbart would lead a person to believe that the streets of European cities are teeming with sex-crazed gangs of brown men groping white women with abandon. Curiously, Breitbart has also published thousands of words claiming that campus rape in the U.S. is a hysterical feminist myth put forth by women determined to take the fun out of sex.
Violence against women is always unacceptable, but whether an immigrant or a weak-chinned member of the god-fearing Duggar family is doing it shouldn’t make a difference. Is sexual assault or domestic violence against women any less a crime if the guy who did it has an American passport? Is it a worse crime if he’s speaking Spanish or Arabic? The Trump administration’s citation of violence against women as a reason to fear immigrants is a cynical attempt to disguise its true motives: cultivating Steve Bannon-style white nationalism in the American populace. You’d have to be a sucker to fall for it. [The Daily Beast, 3/6/17]
ThinkProgress: Trump Plans To Publicize “Honor Killings” While Eliminating 25 Grants That Aid Victims Of Domestic Violence, Even Though “The Number Of ‘Honor Killings’ In The U.S. Stands In Stark Contrast To The Roughly 1,500 Women Who Are Murdered As A Result Of Domestic Violence In A Given Year.” According to ThinkProgress’ Aaron Rupar, “the ‘honor killing’ provision is just the latest example of Trump trying to portray Islam in a violent light” even though “the number of ‘honor killings’ in the U.S. stands in stark contrast to the roughly 1,500 women who are murdered as a result of domestic violence in a given year.” Rupar pointed out that the president’s “budget proposal will eliminate the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women grants,” which “funded 25 grant programs helping domestic violence victims,” casting doubt on Trump’s concern over gender-based violence. From ThinkProgress’ March 6 article:
The inclusion of the “honor killings” provision in the new Muslim ban marks the second time in a week the Trump administration has outlined a plan to use federal resources “to whip up as much racial panic as possible,” as Matt Yglesias of Vox puts it. The first instance was Trump’s vow to create the Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement office, or VOICE, during his speech to Congress last week, even though immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.
In a similar vein, the number of “honor killings” in the U.S. stands in stark contrast to the roughly 1,500 women who are murdered as a result of domestic violence in a given year. But according to numerous reports, Trump’s budget proposal will eliminate the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women grants. Those grants had a $480 million budget last year and funded 25 grant programs helping domestic violence victims, according to Mother Jones. Trump and chief strategist Steve Bannon have both been accused of domestic assault.
In the new Muslim ban, the Trump administration claims that the original ban wasn’t intended to discriminate against Muslims.
But the “honor killing” provision is just the latest example of Trump trying to portray Islam in a violent light. Despite the fact that a person in America is much more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than a Muslim terrorist, the Trump administration has signaled it wants a federal counter-terrorism program to stop focusing on violent white supremacists and any other extremist groups not comprised of Muslims. [ThinkProgress, 3/6/17]
Trump’s First Mention Of “Honor Killings” Came Just Two Days Before Former Breitbart Executive Chairman Stephen Bannon Officially Became His Campaign CEO
A Media Matters Search Of A Database Of Trump’s Campaign Speeches Found That Trump’s First Mention Of “Honor Killings” Came Two Days Before Bannon Was Hired To Run His Campaign. Media Matters searched Factba.se’s database of Trump’s speeches and statements using the search term “honor killing” and found that Trump’s first use of the term on the campaign trail came on August 15, 2016, two days before Trump hired former Breitbart executive chairman Stephen Bannon as his new campaign CEO. [Factba.se, accessed 3/8/17; Politico, 8/15/16; The New York Times, 8/17/16]
Breitbart, Formerly Run By Steve Bannon, Obsessed Over “Honor Killings” By Muslims Around The World