Stupid. Self-serving. Evil.
That’s the answer.
The question is: Use three words to describe Donald Trump’s ban of immigrants and refugees from seven primarily Muslim countries (hyphenated words count once).
Stupid, because it will not accomplish what it intends to, which is to make us any more secure. We already do adequate—what some would call “extreme”—vetting of visitors, refugees and immigrants from these countries. The ban drives a wedge between us and the countries affected and gives terrorist organizations another recruiting message.
The stupidity of the action has imbued how the Trump Administration has implemented it: no warning to anyone; inconsistent instructions; a lack of preparation for the predictable messes it would create; almost immediately rescinding its impact on people with green cards or who are permanent residents. That Trump never thought, or never cared, about the impact that the ban potentially has on employers and universities represents the height of seat-of-the-pants stupidity, as does the notion that the U.S. constitution could let Trump get away with letting Christians in from these countries, but not Muslims. It’s almost as if the Trump Administration is using the Bush II Administration playbook for the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and its reaction to Superstorm Sandy.
It’s easy to point at the selection of banned countries as another part of the overwhelming ignorance manifested by the Trump Administration on immigration. Countries that have supplied the terrorists who have killed 100% of all innocents murdered on U.S. soil are not on the list. Syria, which has being living through a horrific breakdown of civil society that demands a humanitarian response, is on the list. Iraq is an important U.S. ally supplying a large part of he troops currently fighting ISIS.
In one action, Donald Trump has managed the feat of becoming the poster boy for both Christian and Islamic terrorists, emboldening the former and embodying the devil to the later.
But the selection of countries exemplifies the self-centeredness of the action. As many have noted, all the countries that would seem to be prime candidates for inclusion on Trump’s no-no list such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt have business relationships with the Trump family. Trump promised his supporters and the world a crackdown on immigration that targeted Muslims, and he delivered it without affecting his own bottom line. He also delivered a message to every small country in the world that practices a different religion from Christianity—better start building that Trump Tower or else!
The evil part comes from the fact that Trump, spurred on by the bad intentions of his white supremacist advisors, is so willing to sacrifice the lives of so many refugees and immigrants—employees, technicians, small business owners, cabbies, many with families. But he won’t sacrifice even one penny of his own rich horde. And for what reason is he hurting these innocent people? So his leviathan-sized but fragile ego can say he kept his word. It’s a completely symbolic act that will not make anyone safer, and will likely make us less safe.
The American people are largely opposed to Trump’s ban. Spontaneous demonstrations broke out at airports and public spaces all over the country. Most Democrats many religious leaders and some Republicans are condemning the action. Even the Koch Brothers and their allies, who stand to benefit in so many ways from the Trump Administration, have come out against the Muslim ban. Polls show that from late 2015 to late 2016, the number of Americans with favorable attitudes towards “Muslim people” grew from 53% to 70%. 59% of all Americans now say they want to accept refugees from the Middle East. These surveys and the general reaction to the Trump ban demonstrate that the Trump core isn’t that large. To win a general election Trump’s deplorables must be augmented by the “orange hair” Republicans who will vote for anyone who promises to lower taxes on the wealthy, no matter how crude, ignorant or mentally ill she-he happens to be.
Perhaps not so coincidentally, at least to someone like me whose Jewish family comes from Aleppo, Syria, the announcement of the ban on selected Muslim countries came the day before Trump almost certainly consciously insulted Jews in his remarks to acknowledge International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Every president before Trump has specifically noted that about 6 million Jews died at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust. But not a word from Trump. While it is true that about five million non-Jews died in the concentration camps and mass executions, the devastation inflicted on the worldwide population of Jews (now estimated at just 15 million) and the singling out of the Jews for complete eradication brand the European Holocaust as a specifically Jewish genocide. Not to mention Jews in general remarks on the Holocaust is akin to explaining U.S. slavery with no reference to color. What Trump did is an explicit act of “Holocaust denial.” It suggests to me that Jews who trust Trump because he’s hard on Islamic countries should instead condemn him for hopping into bed with Steve Bannon, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions and other white supremacists.
Today the Muslims. Tomorrow the Jews?