Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Trump’s Executive Order Is an Existential Threat to America

Just as the “bogeyman” of the Mexican rapist and drug dealer is used to justify the Wall and mass immigration detention, the specter of Muslim terrorists is being used to validate gutting the refugee program and limiting admission from North Africa, and Southwest and South Asia.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Lobelog

This week President Donald Trump issued a revised Executive Order (EO or Order) restricting immigration from six majority Muslim countries and more than halving the US refugee program. This version includes some significant changes: it is more carefully written; it removes Iraq from the list of countries falling under the ban; and it exempts those with green cards and valid visas. Nevertheless, it remains a false, dangerous, cruel, arbitrary, and bigoted assault on Muslims and the very idea of America as an open, welcoming society.

The EO is based on the false premise that it is designed to protect Americans from foreign terrorists. Arguments to this effect peppered the Order and were used by the three Cabinet Secretaries who spoke after it was issued. Attorney General Sessions, for example, in addition to citing the single case of a naturalized Somali American who was convicted of planning a terrorist attack in 2014, claimed that the FBI is currently investigating 300 refugees for possible terrorist activity (a charge that is included in the EO).

The Somali American case is the only known instance where a former refugee from one of the six countries sought to engage in violence. Given the administration’s penchant for “alternative facts”, the first ever mention of 300 individuals “under investigation” must be taken with a grain of salt until it can independently be verified. In fact, just a few days before the release of the EO, the Department of Homeland Security released a study concluding that immigrants, in general, are not a security threat since most recorded terrorist crimes were committed by individuals who became radicalized after living in the US, and that, in any case, “country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity”.

While immigrants and refugees from the six countries included in the ban are not responsible for terrorism in the US, that hasn’t stopped administration spokespersons from using them as scapegoats to justify their proposed policies. The Order, itself, is designed to set up Muslims as a “bogeyman” in order to win support for Trump’s efforts to overhaul of the entire immigration/refugee program. Just as the “bogeyman” of the Mexican rapist and drug dealer was used to justify the Wall and planned mass deportations, Muslim terrorists are being used to validate gutting the refugee program and limiting admission of “undesirables” from North Africa, and Southwest and South Asia.

Some have argued that this is the precursor to President Trump making good on his promise of a general “Muslim ban”. It very well may be, since the EO states that more countries may be added in the future – with an Administration spokesperson suggesting that 13 or 14 countries may soon be included.

Additionally, the EO includes mention of a still undefined ideology test for admittance to the US. Arabs, including US citizens, who have already undergone similar screening by Border Patrol officials, can testify to how insulting and intrusive this process can be. Laptops and phones have been seized and downloaded, and individuals have been asked for their views on the Iraq War, whether they support Israel, their views about the US President, and their religious beliefs. This is a sure-fire way to discriminate against an entire group of people – and, I might add, not just Muslims. So the EO appears to be designed to exclude not “potential terrorists” but individuals who fail to pass an arbitrary ideological litmus test.

Just as insidious as the “temporary ban” and the mechanisms that will be developed to exclude more individuals after it is lifted (if it is lifted and not expanded) is the suspension of the refugee program and the pledge to significantly reduce the number of refugees from all countries being allowed into the US.

From the earliest days of his presidential campaign, when candidate Trump first warned about the dangers of refugees, saying “we don’t know who these people are”, major church-based refugee resettlement groups responded forcefully with evidence demonstrating the thoroughness of the vetting process. The process currently used to screen refugee applicants is already exceptionally rigorous, taking more than two years to complete. But preying on fears of Muslims, Trump has persisted with the lie that refugees are not screened. Now he has issued this EO establishing that his administration after ordering a freeze on refugee admittance for 120 days, will ultimately reduce the number of refugees allowed into the US from 110,000 to 50,000.

This is unconscionable, since those who apply for admission as refugees are desperate souls seeking to escape life-threatening situations. They have risked everything in the hopes of securing safety and opportunity for their families. They are the most vulnerable people on earth and fear mongering at their expense is a cruel and heartless act.

The architects behind all of the administration’s machinations are a small cadre of ultra-nationalist advisers who have argued that America is a white Judeo-Christian culture facing an existential threat from foreigners – specifically Latinos and Muslims. They fear that “their” country and its culture are at risk of being diluted and transformed and that action must be taken to save “America”, as they see it.

On the one hand, they are right. America is changing, as it always has. Where they are wrong is that the very idea of America is found not in exclusion, but in its inclusiveness and its absorptive capacity to become new.

The same xenophobic fear being expressed by the President and his supporters today once prompted others before them to agitate against Jews, Catholics, Eastern Europeans, Chinese, and every other wave of new immigrants that came to our shores. It was they who said “Irish need not apply”, passed the notorious Asian Exclusion Act, led the forced immigration detention and deportation of Mexican American citizens, lynched Italians, committed gang violence against Eastern Europeans, supported the internment of Japanese, instigated against Jews, and fought against equal rights for African Americans.

The idea of America is bigger than the one the xenophobes have espoused and so, time and again, they lost. Thank God they did, because what kind of country would we be, had they won?

Not learning the lessons of history, this Administration is trying once again to impose exclusionary policies. They are building a Wall, ordering mass deportations, and issuing a bigoted Executive Order. When all is said and done, it’s not refugees and immigrants, Latinos or Muslims, who pose an existential threat to the American idea. That threat comes from this Administration and its policies.

James J. Zogby is the president of the Arab American Institute.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and two-time failed presidential candidate, is a foreign policy hawk with neoconservative leanings who appears set to become the next senator from Utah.


Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman and longtime “superlobbyist” who has supported numerous neoconservative advocacy campaigns, has become embroiled in the special prosecutor’s investigation into the Donald Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.


Jon Lerner is a conservative political strategist and top adviser to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. He was a key figure in the “Never Trump” Campaign, which appears to have led to his being ousted as Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser.


Pamela Geller is a controversial anti-Islam activist who has founded several “hate groups” and likes to repeat debunked myths, including about the alleged existence of “no-go” Muslim zones in Europe.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Although overlooked by President Trump for cabinet post, Gingrich has tried to shape affairs in the administration, including by conspiring with government officials to “purge the State Department of staffers they viewed as insufficiently loyal” to the president.


Former Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) is an advisor for United Against Nuclear Iran. He is an outspoken advocate for aggressive action against Iran and a fierce defender of right-wing Israeli policies.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Other than the cynical political interests in Moscow and Tehran, there is no conceivable rationale for wanting Bashar al-Assad to stay in power. But the simple fact is, he has won the war. And while Donald Trump has reveled in positive press coverage of the recent attacks on the country, it is clear that they were little more than a symbolic act.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The reality is that the Assad regime is winning the Syrian civil war, and this matters far less to U.S. interests than it does to that regime or its allies in Russia and Iran, who see Syria as their strongest and most consistent entrée into the Arab world. Those incontrovertible facts undermine any notion of using U.S. military force as leverage to gain a better deal for the Syrian people.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

An effective rhetorical tool to normalize military build-ups is to characterize spending increases “modernization.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Pentagon has officially announced that that “long war” against terrorism is drawing to a close — even as many counterinsurgency conflicts  rage across the Greater Middle East — and a new long war has begun, a permanent campaign to contain China and Russia in Eurasia.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Revelations that data-consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten personal information from Facebook for the Trump campaign masks the more scandalous reality that the company is firmly ensconced in the U.S. military-industrial complex. It should come as no surprise then that the scandal has been linked to Erik Prince, co-founder of Blackwater.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As the United States enters the second spring of the Trump era, it’s creeping ever closer to more war. McMaster and Mattis may have written the National Defense Strategy that over-hyped the threats on this planet, but Bolton and Pompeo will have the opportunity to address these inflated threats in the worst way possible: by force of arms.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

We meet Donald Trump in the media every hour of every day, which blots out much of the rest of the world and much of what’s meaningful in it.  Such largely unexamined, never-ending coverage of his doings represents a triumph of the first order both for him and for an American cult of personality.


RightWeb
share