President Donald Trump’s efforts to find any kind of support for his unconstitutional Muslim “travel” ban apparently include dabbling in the “fake news” he complains about so often. Except unlike the New York Times and CNN, Trump is actually peddling Islamophobic conspiracy theories and lies to his followers.
On Thursday, Trump posted a link to a Jordanian click-bait agitprop website that said that the Middle Eastern nation of Kuwait had also issued a “Trump-esque” visa ban to five Muslim-majority nations. “Syrians, Iraqis, Iranians, Pakistanis and Afghans will not be able to obtain visit, tourism or trade Kuwaiti visas with the news coming one day after the US slapped its own restrictions on seven Muslim-majority countries” reads the article. It was shared more than 70,000 times by Trump fans and was subsequently picked up by far-right propaganda outlets like Breibart, Infowars, and Russian state-run Sputnik. Only Sputnik has bothered to post a retraction, as noted by Buzzfeed.
Of course, the accusation is absolutely ridiculous, considering that Kuwait itself is an overwhelmingly Muslim nation. That much was made clear when the Kuwaiti government issued an angry statement debunking the story and sent extremely thinly veiled criticisms at Trump for his discriminatory ban.
Foreign Minister Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah issued this statement in response to Trump’s fake news: “Kuwait categorically denies these claims and affirms that these reported nationalities…have big communities in Kuwait and enjoy full rights. The State of Kuwait believes that granting of visa [sic] is a sovereign matter, and is not linked to terrorism or violence or nationality or faith.”
The story appears to have originated in a 2011 story on Gulf News.com, which gives no sources and was never confirmed by any official sources.
It just goes to show how easily disinformation spreads and how easy it is for the far-right wing to insert their foul, pernicious narratives into public discourse. One post, one click, and suddenly hundreds of thousands of people are reading and sharing a story that is obviously fake to anyone with the most basic knowledge about the Middle East.
It is extremely disturbing to see the President of the United States sharing completely fabricated news, which not only highlights just how willfully ignorant he truly is but how quick he is to jump at anything that supports his twisted and perverse worldview.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.