On the Muslim Ban

shepard-fairey-amplifier-foundation

Seeing the protests happening at airports all over the US from a distance is jarring. The fact that so many law-abiding people, people who have gone through a long, strenuous vetting process are being barred from entering the country is shame.

I was heartened to see the statement that Senators John McCain (Arizona) and Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) released on Monday on the executive order/muslim ban, breaking away from party lines.

Here’s the statement in full:

“Our government has a responsibility to defend our borders, but we must do so in a way that makes us safer and upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation.

“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.” (mccain.senate.gov)

A year ago, Vice President Mike Pence called a muslim ban “offensive and unconstitutional.” Yet, here we are.

The executive order is a spectacle. A way for President Trump to show that he’s “tough on terrorism” though the ban does not deal with terrorism in a thoughtful way. For example, countries that pose a significant threat to the U.S but where the Trump family does business are absolved; the ban doesn’t address terrorists with Western passports.

But instead of wallowing in anger and frustration, I’m asking myself what I can do to help. One thing is to speak out against something like this which is morally wrong. American society is a democratic one and should not accept religious discrimination. Law-abiding citizens should not be penalized for the radical actions of people who share their faith.

I’m but a small voice and, this is a very small space, but I think when small voices come together, big changes can occur. The protestors who protested at JFK airport and other airports in the U.S. last weekend spoke loud and clear about the injustices of the ban and, because of the noise they made, part of the ban was rolled back (green card holders will be allowed without special screening).

A second thing is to donate to the ACLU. Many ACLU lawyers were on hand to help refugees and green card holders who were stuck at airports all over the world. Their work will be vital in the next few months. This past weekend the ACLU received 24 million dollars in donations; they typically receive 4 million dollars a year.

A third thing is to subscribe to newspapers and magazines. The Trump administration derides the media and wants to dilute their voice. I think it’s important to subscribe to newspapers and support freedom of the press. News publications I’m looking at: The New York Times (left-leaning), The Washington Post (center), The National Review (right-leaning).

One of my favorite books is The Mayflower. It tells the story of the founding and settlement of Plymouth Colony. In England, the pilgrims were a band of outsiders who were persecuted for their religious beliefs. They made the harrowing journey to the new world in pursuit of religious freedom–things got messy once they arrived–but the sense of America being a safe haven for people of different religions and ethnicities,  has been a fabric of its history. The muslim ban is a blight on this beautiful history.

The “We the People” artwork is by Shepard Fairey.

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