Editor’s Note: Since the time of submission, a federal judge in Seattle has issued a nationwide order to temporarily halt President Trump’s travel ban.
Let’s be clear, the executive order forcing a 90-day travel ban on foreign travelers a 120-day ban on refugees does not make America safe. It is going to make America more divided than it has been for some time and will only make us look intolerant and antagonistic abroad. This is in no way normal and there is a general sense of confusion within some agencies as to how or why these decisions are being made – especially with the extremely rapid pace with which they’re being made. According to The Independent, the Secretary of Homeland Security found out about the executive order via television news and was being debriefed about it as Trump was signing the executive order (EO) itself!
Trump’s Muslim ban originally prevented green card holders from seven different countries from entering back into the U.S. Had that aspect of the executive order stayed in place, up to half a million people would’ve been displaced. The Trump administration has since exempted green card holders likely due to the public outcry. According to The Wall Street Journal, the visa travel ban doesn’t just apply to refugees who were expecting to be awarded asylum in America, but it also applies to citizens with dual nationality.
The 90-day travel ban blocks citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the U.S. and before she was fired, Sally Yates questioned the legality of the EO. Many federal courts around the country have also begun openly challenging the constitutionality of the EO. A judge in New York openly stated that he believed it to be in violation of the 14th amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
What’s also interesting about this ban is that it completely ignores the fact that most acts of domestic terrorism are done by U.S.-born citizens, not from countries targeted by the travel ban. Not only that, but many of these homegrown terrorists are members of right-wing, anti-government militia groups, not Muslims. A study released by the New America Foundation in 2015 proves that the biggest terrorist threat in America is, in fact, right-wing white supremacists! So once again, white privilege rears its ugly head as society chooses to ignore one major problem and over-exaggerate something else that was never really a problem, to begin with. In this case, a ban on travel from seven countries that have never posed any real danger to us.
Protests have taken place at airports across the country where travelers and refugees have been blocked from entering the United States. It’s clear that for some that support this travel ban, taking in a few families from countries that we have helped to destabilize is not something that buzzes on their moral compass.
America has historically prided itself on being a land open to people from all walks of life. That is the feel good version of history we like to tell ourselves and in recent years that has, for the most part, been true. Historically, we know that to be a lie as many groups have been targeted and singled out at various times in U.S. history. Even certain European groups at times, like the Italians and Irish, weren’t considered white originally and had to earn their status in America. Before this happened, many were ostracized and attacked. The history of state and non-state violence against blacks and Native Americans is even worse.
The reality, however, is that deep down inside, America has always functioned as a country with deep ethnic and religious biases. There is a racial, and, at times, religious too, a hierarchy that has always said that if you don’t fit into a certain mold – your rights and freedoms can and will be infringed upon as they see fit. All of a sudden, the normal way of doing things suddenly changes on the fly, with no warning or preparation. Everything people said couldn’t be done, starts to happen.
What’s even more disturbing is how many Americans go along with it and tell you to know your place (a message of subservience) and support either a temporary or extended ban on Muslim entry into the United States. While the polls have shifted wildly depending on how the question is asked, we can say for certain that a solid 25–50% of Americans support at least a temporary ban. One would have to assume just based on knowledge of politics that a majority of those people are Republican conservatives. It would not shock me to know that a percentage of conservative Democrats might not even have a problem with this.
America has changed. The land of the free and home of the brave is dying a slow death from the inside. People who claim to be patriots are being, in fact, unpatriotic as they are silent on attacks against fellow Americans that don’t fit into their mold. This has become the United States of Intolerance. If you want to change that, then you must immediately begin preparing for the 2018 midterms. Involve yourself in local politics and form local chapters with people of like mind and begin doing the work yourself.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re Green, Progressive-Independent, Democratic-Socialist, or working to build a progressive movement within the Democratic Party. We need more true leftists, true progressives running for office. Tell everyone you know, especially those who don’t want to vote. If you can lie down and not do anything in a time like this, then you might want to ask yourself if you really value your freedoms. If you’re not willing to do something to protect your freedoms, then what is the purpose of having them at all?