“Not a terrorist” cannot be our standard for potential immigrants. We need to talk about the mores, customs, and beliefs that characterize migrant groups.
When we debate Muslim immigration—as we are again, as President Trump prepares to re-instate a revised travel ban—we mostly think about terrorism. This is a mistake, in part because it can border on fearmongering. Very few Muslims are terrorists, and the proposed restrictions are not well-tailored to stopping terrorists.
But fundamentally, it is a mistake because of what it ignores. Focusing only on terrorism—rather than on the beliefs, habits, and mores of potential immigrants—creates a false dichotomy, in which the opposite of “terrorist” is “moderate.”