Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, writing in the Boston Review, points out that the seven countries targeted in Trump’s immigration ban had been identified and restricted last year in changes to the visa waiver programme under the Obama administration. The new administration has, however, taken 'hateful rhetoric to frightening new levels'.

She writes: 'We must go beyond criticising Trump to challenge the deep-seated and widely held assumption, held across the political spectrum, that Muslims are naturally, even preternaturally, violent. While seemingly easy to oppose, this notion draws sustenance from a much broader and deeper well of support than is often acknowledged by North American critics of far-right anti-Muslim politics. It enjoys the tacit support of a range of constituencies, including many liberal internationalists. It is not uncommon for critics of the Trump administration’s toxic religious politics, including from the progressive left, to repeat and reinforce the basic presumption that religion, particularly Islam, can be either good or bad, with the former lending itself to peaceful existence and the latter to oppression and violence. The reach of this assumption extends far beyond the current administration and its policies. In reality, religious affiliation does not predict political behavior, whether peaceful or violent'.

Hurd states that the misuse of religious labels pervades the present debate and cites as an example an otherwise sharply critical piece in the New York Times about the new executive order in which the phrase 'Muslim countries' is used in the headline. 'The presumption', she writes, 'that one can objectively describe the nations subjected to the ban as Muslim is sociologically sloppy, historically misguided, and politically dangerous. It is precisely this slippage, and the actions and policies it engenders, that contribute to creating a world in which it seems natural to talk about religion as if we all know what we mean when we say "Muslim countries"'.

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