Last week's post may have read like a drunken rant (insert your own quip about all my posts reading like that here) because I was, as I indicated, more sleep-deprived than usual when I wrote it. And I didn't feel the need to go into much actual detail about the contents of Drumpf's executive order because the news was two days old by that point and I figured no one wanted to read a repetition of what they already knew. Since that time, I have seen counterarguments from Drumpf's defenders and counterarguments against the counterarguments, and because I am a reasonably honest person I have considered the embarrassing possibility that after speaking out so emphatically I was, in fact, wrong. But in the end I concluded that I wasn't and that my outrage, whether or not I handled it as gracefully as I ought to have, was fully justified.
You know, last week someone at church suggested that becoming like God includes not getting angry, and I thought, No offense, but have you ever read the Bible, like even a little bit? God doesn't not get angry. Anger is not an inherently bad emotion. Anger stemming from compassion for people you've never met whose lives will never affect yours is, I would argue, a very good emotion, albeit a useless one if it isn't strong enough to drive you to action. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland agrees. A few months ago he told a gathering of global political leaders at Windsor Castle that "governments today are not responding to the refugee problem urgently enough, nor on a large enough scale... The world needs to be more outraged than it is, when we read of the persecution, the violence, the sexual violence, the murder, the rape, the destruction of families and any social structure that these people have had - almost entire cultures being destroyed."
Whelp, I've decided to analyze this thing more closely to prove that I'm not just riding the wave of public backlash. First I think it's worth pointing out an important distinction that most people, whether for or against the ban, seem to have failed to grasp. The ban prohibits all immigration of any kind from the seven targeted countries for 90 days, but it also prohibits all refugees from all countries, anywhere, for 120 days, and from Syria indefinitely, and lowers the quota who will be permitted in 2017 to less than half of the one set by Obama. Now I suppose the best jumping-off point for my analysis would be Drumpf's own damage control statement:
"America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave.
We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say. My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror. 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. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days.
I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria. My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering."
First of all, Mr. Drumpf - I don't harbor any delusions that you'll ever actually read this, of course, but I want to pretend I'm addressing you because it's more fun to write that way - congratulations on making history with your phenomenal new record. Other presidents take hundreds of days to achieve a majority disapproval rating, but you managed it in eight. I'm not even being sarcastic when I say how very impressive that is. It will be very, very difficult for any future presidents to beat. Even if one of them reveals himself to be a Sith Lord immediately after taking the Oath of Office, people will just be like "Whoa, Star Wars in real life!" Secondly, nice opening statement about immigrant heritage and compassion and freedom and stuff. Did you write it yourself? It seems more articulate than your usual, but maybe you just express yourself better in writing. I'm like that too. Oh wait, your Twitter account destroys that hypothesis. Never mind. Anyway, I have my doubts as to whether you actually believe those finely crafted words, but who am I to say? Only God knows your heart. I'm more concerned about your actions.
"My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months." Someone else pointed this out to me as well, apparently unaware that in 2011 I despised Obama so much I would have been opposed to this too simply because he was the one doing it. So you're willing to agree with Obama on something despite being his ideological opponent? That's a sign of rare maturity and I'm proud of you. I suppose you could say with a straight face that his policy was "similar" to yours. Here's a fun fact for you, Mr. Drumpf - a domesticated chihuahua and a rabid wolf share about 98.8% of their DNA. In other words, they're very similar. Anyone who protests against their children petting the latter but not the former is obviously a hypocrite.
Now, let's look at the trivial differences: Obama was acting on the discovery that there was, in fact, something screwy going on with the refugee process. The fact that the FBI and State Department noticed this is an indication that said process works. You, on the other hand, are acting on nothing more than a fearmongering hypothetical of your creation. Also, unlike Obama and any other president ever for that matter, you're targeting green card holders, people of dual citizenship, and people who have already been through most of the process. You're making their lives significantly less pleasant for no justifiable reason. As for Jimmy Carter's ban on Iranian immigration that has also been cited, it was in retaliation for something that country actually did. That was before my time, but if we assume for the sake of argument that it was the same thing as yours, it was equally wrong and that doesn't make yours right. What if I told you this country has made progress (that you're now trying to reverse)? Imagine someone re-instituting segregation in the 1980s and pointing out that no one was outraged over the same thing in the 1940s.
Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham also pointed out in their joint statement, "It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump's executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security. Such a hasty process risks harmful results. We should not stop green-card holders from returning to the country they call home. We should not stop those who have served as interpreters for our military and diplomats from seeking refuge in the country they risked their lives to help. And we should not turn our backs on those refugees who have been shown through extensive vetting to pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children.
"Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism. At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security."
"The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror." Really, it's a sign of rare maturity, and I don't mean just rare for you but for humans in general. Keep it up. And yet the Obama administration saw no need to ban immigration from any of these countries. Now if you say that's because he's just a stupid liberal/Democrat/socialist, I'll have to retract my maturity compliment and replace it with an ad hominem fallacy accusation. I think maybe it's actually because no one from any of those countries has killed an American on American soil in at least forty years. People from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates have, though. I won't pretend to know why the Obama administration didn't put them on the list, but I suppose it is unfair to attribute their continued absence to your business dealings and holdings there as some people have. So I'll grant you that point.
"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. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order." Well, of course. I could have told you without reading the order that it didn't mention anything about religion. You aren't thoroughly stupid. Obviously you are in some ways if you're not just pandering and are in fact sincere in your assertions that vaccines cause autism and climate change doesn't exist, but humans are complex creatures and technically I suppose you still are one. You were intelligent enough to get yourself elected and you are surely intelligent enough to realize that not even you can target a religion in the first week of your presidency and get away with it.
Now wherever could people have gotten the ridiculous idea that it had anything to do with religion? It's not like you've ever spoken pejoratively about Muslims or called for a, quote, "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States", going so far as to approvingly cite FDR's infamous discrimination against Germans, Italians and Japanese who were already U.S. citizens. Republicans would surely have treated your campaign like a joke instead of making you their nominee if you went around saying things like that. Oh wait, actually you did, but it was over a year ago, when you were just a young and foolish 69-year-old. I'm sure you've changed since then and that has nothing at all to do with this. Besides, it was just locker room talk, amiright? Wait - wrong rationalization, but anyway, the point is I'm sure you respect Muslims every bit as much as you respect women, which coincidentally is also how much I respect you.
In any case, we both know that for many of your supporters smugly pointing out that this isn't about religion, it is and always has been about religion. Conservatives who think all of Islam is fundamentally evil and view all Muslims with contempt and suspicion are not at all rare, and usually not at all ashamed to express it. I documented several in this post some time ago and it was the single most consistent and biggest contributing factor to my alienation from dozens of conservative Facebook pages and personalities. But I get it, I really do. I used to be like that too. Few of Islam's defenders even acknowledge the elephants in the room - why are virtually all terrorists nominally Muslim, why are so many Muslim-majority countries crappy dictatorships, why does the Quran say such-and-such? It turns out there are reasonable answers to all of these if you go looking for them (try this article for a starting point), but the simple answer is easier. The simple answer gives us a scapegoat for our fears and a target for our anger. The only problem with it is that it's not true. But many of your supporters don't mind that, and you don't mind that they don't mind, do you?
There's just a couple more anomalies I'd like to clear up before we move on. Why did you tell The Brody File, on the very day your executive order went into effect, that Christian refugees would be given priority? I mean, you explained why - because Obama gave priority to Muslims and two wrongs make a right - but I'm just confused because that seems odd in light of your claim that this has nothing to do with religion. Do you realize that Christianity is a religion? And it also bothers me a little bit that your son Donald Jr., who has been very vocally supportive of your campaign, liked this tweet by John Cardillo a few days ago: "When it's revealed that the #QuebecShooting terrorists are Muslims, #Trump will have a tremendous spike in political capital. #MuslimBan". The lone shooter turned out to be not a Muslim at all (in fact he's strongly anti-Muslim and one of your supporters, though I wouldn't suggest for a moment that you are to blame for his actions), but your son assumed and/or hoped he was because that would help your agenda. Can you see why this bothers me a little bit? Walk in my shoes for a minute here.
"We will again be issuing visas to all countries..." Okay, visas, great. And the refugees, the ones that Americans are most concerned and outraged about in the wake of your ban? What about them? Are you going to remember to mention them at all?
"...once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies..." Okay, look, I just have to assume that none of your defenders on this point have any freaking clue what policies are already in place. They're summarized here by an organization that would know. Frankly, I think they're excessive, but they've worked. They keep the terrorists out, and probably a lot of good people too, so maybe they could stand to be overhauled but that obviously isn't what you're concerned about. Exactly which part do you think is inadequate, and why? What do you have that's better? Inquiring minds want to know. Of course it is conceivable that a very cunning, determined, and patient terrorist could somehow slip through undetected, but the same could be said of whatever you replace it with and any other security policies available to mankind. If you want a hundred percent guaranteed perfect safety then I'm sorry, but you were born on the wrong planet. But perhaps you're well aware that what you're claiming to fix isn't broken? And you're just exploiting the fact that most of your supporters aren't?
"...over the next 90 days." And the refugees from these and all other countries - except for Syria, you know, the one where the worst of the violence and the most desperate part of the humanitarian crisis is located, which is blocked indefinitely - will be able to resume coming here after 90 days as well, yes? What's that? Oh, normal immigration will resume after 90 days, but actual refugees, the ones that Americans are most concerned and outraged about in the wake of your ban, will have to wait 120 days, which is more than 90 days? Or God knows how long if they're from Syria? Interesting. I recommend making that more clear in the final draft of your statement. We wouldn't want the American public to get the crazy idea that you're deliberately misleading them by omitting these facts.
Even if this ban is temporary, except for Syria, you've set a dangerous precedent. You or someone else could lengthen it, do it again and/or expand it to more countries, and wouldn't need any more justification, aka zero, than you have right now. Why shouldn't I expect you to target all Muslims as you publicly stated your intention to do just over a year ago? I won't try to predict the future because the last time I did I predicted that Republicans would treat your campaign like a joke instead of making you their nominee. And that Democrats would pick Bernie Sanders. But regardless, this is alarming. But you know what isn't going to be put on hold for 90 or 120 or any days? The humanitarian crisis and the suffering that these refugees are trying to escape from. They will continue to freeze, starve, be raped, be murdered, and just generally have a miserable time during these 120 days. And maybe disregarding that for the duration of this period would be a necessary evil if you had a legitimate national security reason to do so, but you don't, so...
"I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria." Really? That's funny, because when I have tremendous feeling for someone I don't fabricate a reason to keep them out of my country indefinitely. But I guess we all process our emotions differently. And I'm sure that starving Syrian children are now in just a little bit less pain because you said you have tremendous feeling for them. Actions aside, though, it's hard to take your words of compassion seriously when they have been preceded by words like this from your son.
One problem with this analogy is that three terrorists hiding among the Syrian refugees would be three more than have actually occurred in reality, so "our Syrian refugee problem" described here is a figment of his and your imaginations. The other problem, and the reason I bring it up here, was pointed out by the Skittles company itself:
Well, I didn't need another reason to eat Skittles, which I believe are actually created by God Himself and rain down in a secret location, but there's one anyway and if three of them kill me then at least I'll die doing something I loved. Now I recognize that Donald Drumpf Jr. is not you, despite the similar name, but he's very close to you and he very publicly supported your campaign and he made this statement in defense of your proposed ban, which as far as I know was still geared toward all Muslims at that time. You didn't correct him, did you? Does this analogy reflect how you see the people that you now claim to have "tremendous feeling" for? Only God knows your heart, like I said, but I'm just saying this doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in you.
"My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country..." As it should be.
"...but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering." As the comic relief character in a recent sci-fi blockbuster once said, "I find that answer vague and unconvincing." (Oops, spoiler alert.) Why don't you already have some ways in mind? You've planned on becoming president for a long time, and you've planned on banning Muslims, I mean refugees from certain countries for a long time too. It seems to me that you could have pondered this once or twice during that time and gotten some concrete ideas in mind before you shut them out of the country that was founded as a refuge for those who are suffering. Of course, maybe you have and you just didn't like to discuss them because they wouldn't appeal to the xenophobia that was crucial to your getting elected. I don't expect anything to come of this, but please, prove me wrong. I would love to get on this blog and tell everyone that I was wrong and you actually meant what you said. I don't think you're purely evil and I actually like some of the things you've done and plan to do. I want to like you, I really do, but you make it impossible.
Now, my response to Mr. Drumpf's damage control statement took up a lot more space than I thought it was going to, so I guess I'd better wrap this up, but I want to mention one more thing. A lot of people have come out of the woodwork suddenly claiming to care about homeless veterans and other struggling people in the United States, insisting that we should focus on them and don't have the resources to deal with the refugees anyway. I'm fine with that rationale as long as we extend the ban to all countries and rewrite the plaque on the Statue of Liberty to say something along the lines of "We've got our own problems; go away." Though preferably in a more poetic way. Also, stop sharing this moronic meme:
Why is it moronic, you may ask? Because Starbucks started doing LITERALLY THAT EXACT THING a little over three years ago. I don't drink coffee, but maybe I'll buy some and dump it out.
Okay, one more thing. Weebly, the company that hosts my site, has this announcement to make: "If you’re feeling like we’re feeling, you might be ready to spread some positivity, good news and compassion back into the world. The Weebly entrepreneurs behind Zoë Bands felt compelled to do the same. They turn refugee life vests into bracelets and sell them online to raise money for critical resources like food, clothing and medical supplies for refugees around the world. For every Zoe Band bracelet purchased in the next week, Weebly will match with a donation to Refugee One, a non-profit supporting refugee relocation. Refugee One is a Chicago based non-profit and Weeblycustomer that helps refugee families find homes, jobs and create their slice of the American Dream. Let’s join together as a global community and do our part to #spreadcompassion. Sincerely, The Weebly Team"
In this country we are very blessed, privileged, lucky or whatever you want to call it. Most of us can be grateful that our ancestors, or we ourselves, fled their suffering to come here before someone suddenly decided that was no longer okay. That's how and why the United States came to exist and now Daesh has scared some of us into forgetting that and flipping the bird at other sufferers. As Band-Aid sang, "Tonight thank God it's them, instead of you!" We have enough to share and the freedom to stand up for them in their most desperate hour. If you care about your fellow humans, get angry and do something about it. I went to a huge protest today, but I'll talk about that next week.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.