MAEVE LAZOR, CO-EDITOR IN CHIEF | January 30, 2017
In a statement on Monday, President Trump claimed that his temporary immigration executive order was not a “Muslim ban.” When he began campaigning in 2015, he called for a “total and complete shutdown of the entry of Muslims to the United States.”
Trump’s immigration order, which was issued on Friday, is inarguably a religious test– a clear violation of the American constitution. The ban has drawn concern from agencies such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security.
“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion — this is about terror and keeping our country safe,” Trump said in a statement Sunday.
The temporary ban bars immigrants from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya for the next 90 days and refugees for the next 120 days. The United Nations says 20,000 refugees have been frozen out by the executive order.
The stated aim of the ban is to keep extremists out of the United States by barring immigrants from terrorist-affiliated countries, but Trump is strategically entertaining the idea of another terrorist attack on American soil by invoking the September 11 attacks in his order.
Trump ran a campaign of fear and hate, playing on the anxieties of xenophobic Americans and calling to “make America safe again,” (a variation of his campaign slogan) by proposing a wall that Mexico would finance and banning immigration from Muslim-majority countries.
While Trump supporters may fall asleep easier at night in an America that is “safe again,” many Bard students see its flaws transparently.
First year Francesca Keller said, “Trump is using this ban to argue that the country will be “safer” and have a “better security system.” Not only does this lack convincing evidence, but Trump fails to acknowledge the number of Muslims and immigrants that make up America. By kicking innocent people out we destroy families, jobs, and lives. These are the very things Trump said he would preserve and create. This is not America, this is Trump-branded morality. It’s exclusion based on fear, which creates a false sense of safety.”
The repercussions of this ban have already been immense. At the JFK international airport alone, twelve innocent citizens of Muslim-majority countries—regardless of their visa or green card status—have been detained, and several were deported. Protests erupted immediately at JFK Terminal 4, at Battery Park in New York City and throughout the country. Protesters chanted: “let them in,” “no ban no wall,” and “no hate no fear, immigrants are welcome here.”
Islamophobia is becoming more acceptable and more prevalent and validated by the ban; the safety of Foreign Service Officers abroad serving in the listed countries is also at stake, as such countries begin to embrace an anti-America sentiment, weakening the nation’s alliances and its legacy of peaceful diplomacy.
Trump is creating more of a security risk to American citizens at home and abroad by indirectly perpetuating and condoning Islamophobia in America and giving Islamic countries more of a reason not to call America an ally.
Trump has spoken rashly and acted impulsively so far in his eleven days in the White House. He swiftly fired Sally Q. Yates, his acting attorney general, on Monday night after she spoke out against his immigration executive order.
Yates, a federal prosecutor from Georgia, has voiced fairly liberal view points on civil rights and criminal justice in the past and was fired because of her refusal to support the Muslim ban, which she has deemed unconstitutional. In so doing, she has become a hero over the last twenty-four hours for those who value justice and peace.
Yates told The New York Times: “I believe the attorney general or deputy attorney general has an obligation to follow the law and Constitution and give their independent legal advice to the president…Religious freedom requires that local government decisions impacting the exercise of that freedom be free of discrimination.”
Her decision to reject Trump’s executive order was made on the basis of the offensive comments Trump made about Muslims and his openly Islamophobic rhetoric.
One aspect of the ban that news analysts and politicians brought to light was that Trump failed to include Saudi Arabia on his list of banned countries, even though 15 out of the 19 World Trade Center attackers hailed from Saudi Arabia. According to The New York Times, his failure to include Saudi Arabia is evidence of his self-serving agenda: Trump has had long-term financial ties with the nation, registering eight companies under the Trump Organization in Saudi Arabia in August 2015 that were linked to a hotel complex in the city of Jidda. Pakistan also failed to make Trump’s list, although the country is home to several citizens who have carried out attacks in the United States.
Trump is a Washington D.C. outsider and a manipulative businessman. He will stop at nothing to make a profit, no matter what it costs—the trust of his hotel clients, the tuition of naïve a Trump University student, and now the status of US-foreign relations as exhibited by the Muslim immigration executive order issued Friday.
A real-estate mogul with no prior experience in foreign policy or international diplomacy, Trump has gone to great lengths to provoke and help perpetuate longstanding stereotypes about certain nations. In the past he has called Mexicans “rapists and criminals;” claimed that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese government; labeled Syrian refugees as dangerous and Muslims as extremists and terrorists.
Not only is Trump creating a whirlwind of confusion in promoting a self-serving agenda in order to maintain the xenophobe’s support, but he is also weakening US ties with several nation allies. A former reality TV star, he knows how to elicit a reaction and this time, as president, he is provoking fear and fueling an attitude of jingoism among his conservative supporters; this will inevitably contribute to weakening ties with Muslim-majority nations and further deteriorate relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in America. The president has proven that he values theatrics over trust, and prejudice over peace.
Photo by Maeve Lazor/ Bard Watch.
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