False equivalence is a logical fallacy in which two opposing arguments appear to be logically equivalent when in fact they are not. This fallacy is categorized as a fallacy of inconsistency.
— “False equivalence.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_equivalence
On Friday, January 27, at 4:42 PM, President Donald Trump signed an executive order titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”. The full body of the executive order can be found here.
The backlash was almost immediate. Protests are taking place in cities and airports across the country. Governors and legislators on both sides of the aisle have spoken out opposing the executive order on multiple grounds. This is now the second weekend since President Trump took office in which protests took place.
One of the main reasons for protest comes from section 5(b) of the executive order, which states:
Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality. Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.(Emphasis added)
Many have taken that section of the order as proof that the ban is focused on preventing Muslims from entering the United States of America and is religious discrimination. White House cyber security advisor Rudy Guliani comments on the Fox News Channel appear to reinforce that concept:
“I’ll tell you the whole history. When [Mr Trump] first announced it he said ‘Muslim ban’. He called me up, he said, ‘put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally’.
— Eleftheriou-Smith , Loulla-Mae. “Donald Trump asked Rudy Giuliani how to ‘legally’ create ‘Muslim ban’, claims former New York mayor.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 30 Jan. 2017. Web. 30 Jan. 2017. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-muslim-ban-rudy-giuliani-how-legally-create-islam-us-immigration-entry-visa-new-york-a7552751.html
Some of my friends on social media are calling out the protesters and opponents to the order using two examples of previous presidents who placed bans on refugees and/or revoked visas for foreign nationals. Their point is that there were no protests when these events occurred, so why should there be protests now. I have reviewed these two incidents since one took place when I was only 5 years old and the other I was not aware of, and I’ve found that both of these incidents are false equivalencies. Read on to learn why.