The Trump administration was quick to use this weekend's Quebec terrorist attack to justify its widely maligned Muslim ban, with press secretary Sean Spicer calling the fatal shooting a "terrible reminder" of the need for so-called "proactive" safety measures the very next day:
But, um, not so fast. The suspect in Sunday's attack, which left six people dead and multiple others wounded, is 27-year-old French Canadian Alexandre Bissonnette. Described as "by all appearances, a rabid anti-immigrant nationalist" by the Intercept's Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain, Bissonnette's archived social media presence shows "likes" for the official pages of French nationalist Marine Le Pen, Trump, and the Israel Defense Forces.
Furthermore, François Deschamps—a committee member of a regional refugee rights group—told local reporters that Bissonnette was a right-wing "troll" who had previously been combative to the group on Facebook and also openly shared attacks on women's rights.
Yet none of that prevented Fox News and others from hastily labeling Bissonnette as something very different:
The person of Moroccan origin was actually Mohamed Belkhadir, who was at the mosque during the attack. According to the Intercept, he had "no role whatsoever" in the shooting. This false "Muslim Moroccan" narrative also obscures the fact that Spicer's use of the Quebec attack as a justification of the ban simply doesn't add up.
Bissonnette's act of terrorism instead has more in common with the Charleston Church Massacre of 2015, the Guardian's Richard Wolffe explained in an op-ed Tuesday:
"What does real leadership look like? If you’re courageous enough to say the words 'radical Islamic terrorism,' you could at least muster the strength to condemn its white nationalist copy. You could avoid hiring publishers who peddle far-right conspiracies, like Steve Bannon, to your inner circle. You might even think twice about installing them as permanent members of your national security council."
Statistics also stand in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s insistence that the ban is simply a safety measure. According to a breakdown from CNN published amid this weekend's ban-initiated chaos, not a single person accepted to the U.S. as a refugee (Syrian or otherwise) has been implicated in a major fatal terrorist attack since the Refugee Act of 1980 was put into place. None. Zero. Prior to 1980, three refugees—all Cuban—had carried out fatal attacks. The attacks left three people dead.
Want more numbers on acts of violence in the U.S.? Here's some relevant ones to ponder, via Statista:
Bissonnette has since been charged with six counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder.