A little over a week ago, Trump issued the “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” Executive Order, banning nationals from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya from entering the United States. Some people think this action necessary to ensure the safety and protection of American citizens, others feel it is discriminatory, unconstitutional, or even counter-productive. Some supporters have been thumping the Constitution and others raising the specter of Islamist terrorism. In part, I can agree (I definitely want us to do more for our safety), but I feel that some people are making this issue too simple for themselves:
1.) In the Constitution, there are some rights specifically reserved for citizens, such as the right to a federal job and the right to vote. Other than that, the Constitution doesn’t apply to citizens, or even people, but rather the government and what it may or may not do. Thus what the government does to immigrants is the government’s decision, and if we – the people – who are supposed to oversee the government and be served by it (as well as constitutionally protected FROM it) let it run roughshod over humane principles where one group of people (in this case travelers and immigrants) is concerned, who will be next? Our constitution specifies protections of people (all people, not only citizens) from government. When we let that slide by letting government ignore Constitutional protections, it’s gonna be a slippery slope indeed! And at least since the G.W.-Cheney regime we have already been on it. Some people would say, even longer.
2.) What really bothered me when the news hit was that Green Card holders returning from travel were stopped from entering. Green Card holders are permanent residents. They have lived for many years as law-abiding, tax paying members of our society; and their home is now here, no longer abroad; and they may be only days away from becoming full citizens. To treat them as dubious, visiting foreigners just doesn’t strike me as correct. It amounts to evicting them from their homes and jobs (and families!!!) when they have done nothing wrong. There is a big difference between being cautious about letting people of dubious character enter the United States for the first time, and blocking from entry those who have already proven themselves as upstanding members of our society. This is the kind of bull in a china shop behavior which gives Trump and his supporters a bad name.
3.) What is often overlooked by people when we are dealing with a minority is that the members of that minority are not only people of all kinds of personal merit, both good and bad, but community members, co-workers, even life-saving heroes in some cases, and very often family members of people OUTSIDE that minority! So, if you have no contact to immigrants, you can easily write them off as “the other”, in other words that group of people which our darker instincts don’t regard as human and deserving of any justice or mercy. But what about your neighbor, an American citizen, who is married to one of these “non-humans”, who is the mother of his children…? What about those children if we rip their mother away because of the circumstances of her birth? With ill-considered or badly implemented acts like these, we not only violate the human rights of non-citizens but also the civil rights of citizens. Yes, we definitely need to protect ourselves from Islamist terrorists (as well as all other kinds of terrorists), but blanket bans which tear up law-abiding families go too far, and so does denying any ethnic group its humanity. We are better than this. Or, at least, we should be — especially considering the immigrant nation we have always been. Who among us is not an immigrant or descendant thereof?
4.) We have criminals right here at home, living a lavish life in high places; who have brought Islamist terrorism down upon us through arms deals for big bribes; through destabilizing military actions in Muslim lands to take possession of oil fields or pipelines; through bombing untold numbers of civilians in Muslim lands; through blatantly supporting Israel and Saudi Arabia in their ravages of Muslim lands; and through abducting, detaining for countless years without due process (and even torturing!) citizens of Muslim countries in their OWN countries. These war criminals did not just stir up, but mutilated, a bees nest like it was a piñata, and now we are swatting anything that flies from that general direction — bees as well as butterflies. But at the same time we are leaving these vile men and women who committed those gigantic war crimes, and who – unlike the banned travelers – have American citizenship, to enjoy their ill-gotten loot within the protection of our borders and their own security details. Why do we go after travelers, most of whom are harmless and some of whom are even valued members of our society, but let these war criminals go unscathed, vote them into office, build them museums and libraries, stuff them with our tax dollars, and never hold THEM accountable? How dumb can we be?
5.) I heard that since 1975 NO terrorists have entered our country from those countries Trump banned. One has to wonder why he left Saudia Arabia, the origin of the official 911 hijackers, off his list.
6.) Yes, I find Islam the scariest of religions, and there are a lot of scary people in the nations on Trump’s list, some of whom might try to come here. But that’s what proper visa vetting is for. One of the advantages America had in our past wars was our melting pot nature as an immigrant nation. We always had access to people who could speak our opponents’ languages. For years, our government has been employing Arab and Farsi native speakers the better to forestall Islamist terrorists. Is Trump going to have them, their spouses, and children deported, too?
7.) Yes, we have a right to protect ourselves, and I want it done, but intelligently and ethically please!
8.) It’s morally off when our country causes major refugee crises and then won’t accept any of the refugees, letting them flood Europe instead — the old countries from which most of our nation derives. Through European heads this must be going these days when they think of the United States: DR. FRANKENSTEIN: “What have I done?!? What have I brought into the world?!?” I heard that, under Trump’s executive order, CHRISTIAN refugees were detained at their ports of entry and summarily deported right back to the places of ISIS terrorism. What a Christian thing to do, wouldn’t you say?
9.) The suspicion has arisen in some folks that what Trump is doing here is not so much trying to protect us, but flying a test balloon to see how far he can go bending or breaking the law and Constitution and principles of human ethics. At the same time he did this, he decapitated the State Department, has the FBI and DHS feeding out of his hand, and has shown hostility towards the CIA. If it should turn out that there is something to this theory and he will manage to tame, break up, or reform the CIA to no longer be a shadow government, apparently beyond the law and both willing and able to tamper with our elections and assassinate our presidents (like it has practiced for so long abroad and may be doing here at home, as well), I’ll applaud him. If this is just a personal power grab… then not so much.
In conclusion, this matter isn’t quite as simple as some proponents of Trump’s executive order put it. One thing we should all understand is that when we oversimplify issues, we end up shooting ourselves in the foot. Thus we should be glad that federal judges are currently acting in the spirit of our constitution to stop badly thought-out, heavy-handed acts of our executive. At least a splinter of our checks and balances still seems to be working, if only for a brief moment. I shudder to think of what our corrupt Supreme Court might do about this, especially if Trump gets to insert yet another callous corporatist into it. We all know how one hand washes another…
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