Early in the most recent American Presidential race, candidate Donald Trump proposed a ban on Moslems traveling to the United States as a means of protecting the American people from attacks by Islamic Extremist Terrorists. Now, President Trump has issued an Executive Order to fulfill his campaign promise. At the time of his initial proposal, he encountered vocal opposition from across the political spectrum. Influential members of both mainstream parties questioned the Constitutionality of such a move as well as its wisdom as a tactic in dealing with terrorist threats, real or imagined. Others felt the maneuver entirely ignored the humanitarian suffering being experienced by millions of people in the war torn region by lumping victims of oppression with their oppressors in denying them an important potential means of escaping their dire circumstances. Furthermore, many see this as arbitrary religious prejudice in a country that prides itself on being a bastion of religious freedom.
Many of the arguments being raised now in opposition to the Executive Order were vehemently expressed when Trump first started to discuss it. He seemed to feel that winning the election was enough to warrant that he take this step to satisfy the portion of his base that liked the idea. It seems safe to say he might have either underestimated the numbers and/or the strength of conviction of his opponents on this issue or felt he could withstand the negative publicity it would generate once it was issued and enforcement action was put into motion. Protests have been mounted across the country and numerous lawsuits filed seeking redress through the court system. The whole issue appears destined to be heard by the Supreme Court eventually, but that will take time to resolve. In the meantime, the United States does not seem to have improved its standing as a tourist destination, and many legal immigrants to this country are on edge lest their status become instantly and arbitrarily reversed as has already happened to many who set out with valid visas to travel here only to find that those visas had been summarily revoked overnight.
The seven nations explicitly banned in the edict – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – are problematic from the start. Sure, terrorist groups and individuals have received training and supplies in those countries, but the single greatest supplier of people responsible for the attacks of 9/11/01 came from Saudi Arabia – including Osama bin Laden. Iraq has numerous people who helped out American forces during our invasion and occupation there who have every reason to fear for their lives if they remain in the country. Likewise, a sizable portion of the Syrian refugee problem consists of people armed by us in their civil war against the Assad government. Is it humane or even wise to leave them in the lurch by disowning them in their time of greatest need?
Certainly, Trump’s act has its share of proponents among the American electorate, but as a foreign policy act aimed at fighting terrorists and protecting American citizens, it may well ultimately prove to be counterproductive. It certainly isn’t building friendships with people being directly affected by it, or the countries singled out for the ban. The US seems to be losing support from some of our European allies and Australia, especially when accompanied by Trump’s blunt, ham-fisted style of twitter diplomacy and the uneven nature of how the edict is being applied in practice. Needless to say, little if any attempt at mitigating the negative impacts unfairly visited upon many thousands of people living legally in this country has been made so far – except for through the courts.
The course of this all may ultimately result in the Executive Order being deemed Constitutional by SCOTUS, especially as the legislative and executive branches of our federal government are firmly under GOP control, which makes their takeover of the judicial branch over time almost inevitable. What little ability remains for the minority party in the Senate to obstruct nominations is all but gone. No one doubts that McConnell will end the filibuster if it looks like a key Administration nomination will be halted short of 60 votes. Reid fought the urge to do so when the Democrats held the majority, but McConnell is not nearly so circumspect. Trump publicly practically begged him to do it.
The bottom line is the executive order is a religiously-based ban on immigration and refugee resettlement from specifically targeted countries. It assails any pretense the United States may have of being a land that celebrates religious freedom and cares about the wellbeing of innocent victims of conflict in foreign lands. Many innocent people have been put in danger as a direct result of American military and/or covert action in or against their homelands. Throwing away our moral principles by arbitrarily withholding our assistance to others requiring it due to no fault of their own in the somewhat futile search for personal safety and national security is a sorry excuse for perpetrating religious and ethnic bigotry. Our system of vetting prospective refugees and immigrants seeking to live and work here is more than adequate to the task of providing us with reasonable safety and security from the vast majority of people willing to go through it to make a life here. We do not require martial law and abandonment of our individual liberties and collective freedoms to remain safe. In fact, acquiring such a system would be abandoning democracy even more than we have in the years since 9/11. We can’t defeat totalitarianism by becoming authoritarian ourselves. Beating terrorists at their own game by becoming terrorists ourselves is ultimately self-defeating.
President Trump’s Muslim ban, extreme vetting, attempt to increase personal safety for Americans – or whatever name he wants to call – it needs to be halted in its tracks. Banning these people does nothing to make America Great and much to diminish our image abroad. Congress and the Judiciary each has the power and ability to reverse this order, and both should act quickly to do so.
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