Since the election results started making it clear that Donald Trump would be the President of the United States, his fans and supporters have pleaded with us to “just give him a chance.” I had to agree. I’m not much of a fan of political drama, and while Trump had said some maddening things on the campaign trail (and before it. . . and since then), he’d also shown himself to be a man who would say anything, whether he was contradicting established facts or even himself.
It didn’t matter what I think of him as a candidate or even as a person — I’m not a fan. I still wanted to wait to see how he might respond to the responsibility once it rested on his shoulders. I didn’t watch any of the inauguration activities on TV, partly because I don’t like him as a public speaker and partly because I wanted to join the collective passive-aggressive boycott. As sensitive as he is, I wanted to play a part in what I was sure to be his disappointment. I was not disappointed.
I was concerned that the new President of the United States appeared to be completely incapable of seeing anything except from his own perspective.
His first full day in office featured a trip to CIA headquarters where he complained about the news coverage of the crowd size, and then his Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, made a statement to the gathered White House press corps to complain some more about the press coverage. As pathetic as it was, I think it’s hilarious that the regime is so sensitive that they made such a stink with the media about something that was objectively false. Then, Kellyanne Conway gave us the absurd “alternative facts” interpretation.
While it was kind of amusing to see that play out, I was concerned that the new President of the United States appeared to be completely incapable of seeing anything except from his own perspective. That was not encouraging.
Then he started churning out the Executive Orders. There was the authorization of the border wall with Mexico. Granted, this was his earliest campaign promise, but there’s no way Mexico is going to pay for it, which was his second campaign promise. Tariffs on Mexican produced goods will be paid for by American consumers.
The directive that really made waves was the order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into The United States.” Signed on Friday, January 27th, it suspended the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days, and it suspended visa issuance to anyone from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia for 90 days. It also indefinitely suspended the issuance of visas for anyone from Syria. There are some exceptions to these bans, which I’ll delve into in a bit.
Non-refugee Muslims from countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, The United Arab Emirates, and Lebanon are welcome, provided they have a visa.
After the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, Trump issued a statement calling for a complete ban of all Muslims entering the country. He did qualify that with an “. . . until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” But there was significant pushback against this. Many considered this a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment, and I’d be among those who thought so.
The outrage stemming from this order is mostly because on the left, we interpret it as a “Muslim ban,” and we liberals don’t like that. The White House has defended the order because they say it doesn’t explicitly exclude Muslims from entry to the US, just people from those seven countries and other refugees. Non-refugee Muslims from countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, The United Arab Emirates, and Lebanon are welcome, provided they have a visa.
This doesn’t pass the test with those who oppose the regulation, partly because Trump’s loyal surrogate, Rudy Giuliani, went on Fox News last week and told the world that after the election the then President-Elect asked him to come up with a plan to implement a ban on Muslims, but one that didn’t violate the Constitution.
The order does allow for members of minority religions of any nation to be granted exceptions to the refugee policy. So, since those are majority Muslim countries, there is little chance of a follower of Islam in one of those countries being granted an exception, even though there is a long history of persecution between Sunni and Shi’a factions of Islam. In Iran, there’s a great deal of Sunni persecution, but could an Iranian Sunni Muslim qualify for an exemption to this order?
And while it may not literally be a “Muslim ban,” this order does target seven Muslim majority nations. The excuse used is that those seven nations were identified from a law signed by President Barack Obama in December 2015. That law codified additional screening procedures for anyone who had traveled to those countries since March 2011. To me, that made more sense. Additional vetting is a good idea for people who have traveled to some areas of those countries, but refugees already get a review that lasts 18 to 24 months. That part doesn’t make much sense to me.
The first section of the order invokes the attacks of September 11, 2001, when foreign nationals who had been granted visas hijacked passenger planes and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Nearly 3,000 Americans were killed in those attacks, and the purpose of the order is to prevent another terrorist attack. However, as we all know, those attacks were carried out by men from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates. None of those countries are included in the travel ban, and the Trump Organization has business ties in three of them.
It’s a short leap for liberals to call the order a ban on Muslims. I’m pretty sure ISIS and al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab and whoever else has made that leap on their own
How can the Trump administration invoke 9/11 as reason to suspend immigration from nations with known ties to terrorism and then exclude the countries where the 9/11 attackers were from? They may reserve the right to add more countries to the list, the initial exclusion of those countries speaks volumes.
For all of Trump’s posturing about making this country safe from terrorists, this order has little chance of making a net difference in the possibility of an attack. Indeed, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Spicer invoked the San Bernardino attack in December 2015 as part of the justification for the travel ban, but one of those attackers was born in the United States. There’s probably a more serious threat of Americans becoming radicalized over the internet than of a member of ISIS making it through the refugee screening process.
Then we have the recruitment factor. It’s a short leap for liberals to call the order a ban on Muslims. I’m pretty sure ISIS and al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab and whoever else has made that leap on their own to use this as an example of how America is the enemy of Islam, so they can lure recruits. They won’t care that the executive order doesn’t have any reference to Islam.
Finally, and let’s be realistic, this whole thing was poorly communicated and implemented. People making contributions to our nation have been stranded overseas, and families are being separated. Hell, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the nominee for Secretary of State weren’t briefed on the order, nor was Congressional leadership. I can’t be surprised that DHS agents at the airports weren’t sure of how to implement the order.
In normal circumstances, departments that are affected by executive orders are in on the process, so they can both provide input and prepare their personnel for implementation. This was embarrassingly ham-handed, no matter how “nicely” President Trump thought it was going over the weekend. Fortunately, the courts intervened to help prevent deportations.
But what does this mean for the chance we’ve been asked to give President Trump. Really? It doesn’t mean anything. He doesn’t seem to care about how his actions are viewed, as long as the press doesn’t make his crowds seem small, but if the first ten days of his presidency is any indication, the press will get plenty of practice on crowd estimations during the many, many protests that will come.