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December 14, 2015

Anchors Away!

Ken Kellar

Donald Trump, the self-proclaimed master negotiator, is at it again with his proposal to ban Muslim entry to the United States of America. I believe he is using a powerful negotiation tactic called anchoring.


From "Definition: Anchoring is an attempt to establish a reference point (anchor) around which a negotiation will revolve and will often use this reference point to make negotiation adjustments. Anchoring often occurs when the first offer is presented at the beginning of a negotiation."


From Wikipedia: "Anchoring or focalism is a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered (the "anchor") when making decisions. During decision making, anchoring occurs when individuals use an initial piece of information to make subsequent judgments."


Recall the uproar when Mr. Trump referred to illegal immigrants as rapists and murderers. He very effectively shifted the anchor point for illegal immigration discussions and debates. Prior to his statement, the anchor was something like, "illegal immigrants are all religious family-oriented hard-workers."


Mr. Trump's statement was on the other end of the spectrum. Both positions were extreme and likely do not reflect reality. However, Mr. Trump's "extreme" statement brought some reality to the table and makes his opponents appear naive or disingenuous when they invoke the halo-wearing image of an illegal immigrant (the original anchor).


And, so, it goes on the Muslim question. Prior to Mr. Trump's latest, any discussion of restricting or stopping immigration or asylum of Muslims such as the Syrians was met with "That's not who we are; "or some such other emotional and factually wrong statement.


Mr. Trump has possibly established a new anchor point, something like: "Tell me again why we are letting more Muslims, who are opposed to our freedoms, come here?"


It seems to be generally accepted that the State Department can handpick special groups of people for entrance (or denial of entrance) to the United States. It is done all the time for a wide range of reasons, some very questionable.


Change Mr. Trump's "no Muslims" to "no citizens of a theocracy" and no citizens from "states that sponsor terrorism, oppress women, have a culture of honor killing, etc." and you have yourself a de facto prohibition on non-citizen Muslims visiting the USA. Bottom line, if there is a political will, there is a constitutional way.


I think the idea is to have all Islam feel the pain of these murders and fatwahs and general oppression. Keep the Saudi playboys out of Europe's and USA's universities and brothels while sects of their religion randomly murder and terrorize. Force their involvement in civilizing their people and their religion. Don't allow the "good Muslims" to stay out of the fray. We could bring our boys home and let the nation of Islam police itself by adding the incentive of Islam regaining access to the modern world when they eliminate or contain their fringes.


In summary, Mr. Trump's declaration might have been a bit blunt but the concept can absolutely be invoked. His statement is no more extreme than "that's not who we are as a people."


And I would argue his statement reflects love of country and a desire for peace and prosperity. The opposing argument is anti-American and advocates violent anarchy or worse, a violent theocracy. Well, that's at least my anchor point at the start of my next discussion on the subject.


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