On Dec. 7, 2015, candidate Donald Trump called “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
This threat (or to his supporters, a promise) became a mantra, a pillar of his campaign.
Trump later added a demand for a registry of all Muslims already in America. He had his reasons. Reflecting the views of his alt-right, white supremacist and now chief policy adviser, Steve Bannon, Trump told CNN, “I think Islam hates us.”
Fortunately, two major obstacles have impeded implementation of Trump’s plans to ban and register Muslims. The first is that a majority of Americans reject the beliefs of Trump and Bannon. The second impediment is the U. S. Constitution’s guarantees of freedom of religion, speech and thought, as well as due process and equal protection.
Needing a plan to circumvent these constitutional guarantees, Trump turned to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani who became “America’s Mayor” after 9/11. Before that, his fame rested on his fostering and condoning police brutality — most notably after four officers pumped 41 rounds into Amadou Diallo, who was peacefully sitting on the stoop of his building, unarmed and doing nothing wrong.
A week after his inauguration, Trump fulfilled his campaign promise to ban Muslims. He signed an executive order that prohibits any refugees from Syria coming to America indefinitely, and all refugees from any part of the world (regardless of how ravaged their lives have been and how extensively they have been vetted) for 120 days. The order also prohibits entry of any Muslim from seven designated countries — Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — for 90 days.
Trump’s defense of the executive order is Kafkaesque. He loudly proclaimed, “It’s not a Muslim ban.” This is not a complete lie because the executive order does not directly ban Muslims. Rather, it prohibits entry into America by persons from those seven majority-Muslim countries and then creates an exception for religious minorities, who are, generally, Christians. The practical result is that Muslims can’t come to America but non-Muslims can.
I think we can safely call Trump’s position an “alternative fact.” The pushback and criticism has led to predictions that Trump will add non majority-Muslim countries to bolster his legal position by camouflaging his nefarious Islamophobic intent.
The White House, defying all common sense, justified its newly minted discriminatory policy by citing 9/11 even though no national from any one of these seven countries had any involvement with that attack or in any terrorism in the U.S. since then. Conversely, Saudi Arabia, the country with 16 citizens who carried out the Sept. 11 carnage, is not on the list. Interestingly, Trump has significant business interests there.
It was late on Friday afternoon Jan. 27 when Trump issued his executive order. The response to his inhumane edict was immediate and effective. During that weekend, outrage was expressed during mass protests at airports across America, and four federal district courts enjoined various parts of the Muslim ban and ordered the release of affected travelers who were being detained at airports in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., and Seattle.
The Muslim ban makes no one safer and instead increases the danger to the United States by giving a bullhorn to the ISIS narrative that America hates Muslims. It causes pain and rips apart families. It violates constitutional guarantees of religious freedom and equality. It does, to be sure, serve one purpose – a political purpose – satisfying Trump’s base.
The question of constitutional protections — or not — for refugees, immigrants, lawful residents, and visitors, including college and university students and faculty and engineers and entrepreneurs, will be answered soon by federal courts across America.
On Friday, before U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton, the ACLU and Massachusetts attorney general’s office argued for an extension of last weekend’s temporary restraining order against the ban, which by law could last only seven days. Although Gorton ruled against extending the order, a federal judge in Seattle later on Friday temporarily blocked the travel ban.
The ethical and policy question that Donald Trump should answer is a bit different. It is: What would you say to the men, women and children whose lives and families you are destroying in service of your political opportunism and authoritarian inclinations?
Two other questions, Mr. Trump: Have you no decency, sir? Have you no shame?
comments powered by Disqus