A few days ago, we wrote about the intuitively brilliant move that is the recent laptop ban. The story continues to evolve, and it is worth revisiting this topic to explore some of the trends in recent headlines. Two false narratives persist: the idea that this ban is truly about national security, and the theory that Islamophobia motivates this restriction. Fortunately, the facts support the original thesis here at Liberty Nation that at its core, this new rule is primarily about business.
Initially reported by The Guardian and quickly perpetuated on Slashdot, the underlying driver of the laptop ban is allegedly in response to a terrorist plot to put explosives in iPads. The story even attempts to substantiate the theory by wading into the exciting realm of explosion physics. The general concept is that a bomb detonating in the cargo hold (where laptops could still be transported under the ban) might do far less damage than a bomb detonated next to a window, because of all that cushy luggage absorbing the force of the blast. Thank you, Guardian, but I prefer my flights completely explosion-free.
Theories of muffled explosions notwithstanding, this idea that that ban was all about safety continues to be laughably thin. Who was the security expert The Guardian centers their entire story around? The author never gives a name or even employer. With a web as wide as the world, you can find a so-called expert in just about any field with a few simple clicks and your credit card number. Unnamed sources are virtually worthless. Also, why were some airlines targeted but not others? Every passenger has to go through the same security checkpoint, right? Why were cell phones exempted from the rule? An iPhone 7 Plus measures over six by three inches. Surely a bomb could also fit in there. Finally, why were only Muslim-majority nations targeted? Surely if not a matter of safety, this must be a case of bigotry.
Before this year, the term Muslim-majority rarely, if ever, graced a media headline. Now it seems it is an obligatory addition before any piece about Trump goes to press. Allow us to try and once and for all dispel this fallacy that the president is targeting the world’s Muslim population through his specific and targeted bans on a handful of countries.
Obviously, if President Trump was trying to isolate majority Muslim nations with his recent bans, he is failing miserably. A more detailed breakdown is available at the end of this article, where you can see that the president excludes the top three largest Muslim-majority nations from either ban. This theory and this phrase both need to go.
The truth about this laptop ban has always been that it is designed to hurt state-owned foreign airlines in wealthy nations, thus bringing valuable business travelers back to American carriers. Think about the logic of the ban, and it is evident this was the original intent. Even Emirates, one of the airlines targeted by the laptop ban, had this to say according to a Bloomberg interview:
Routes to the U.S. could also be at risk if travelers book with rivals. If customer demand diminishes due to “whatever actions the United States government takes, we will have to adjust accordingly, that’s just good business,” [the president of Emirates] said.
Yielding the entire route to American businesses would be an even bigger win than simply stealing some business- and first-class travelers. As we stated before, you have to hand it to the president on this one. Now can we please stop with the term Muslim-majority?
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