Trump signed an executive order. Airports filled up with protesters. The media screamed about a Muslim ban. Federal Judges intervened. Anger and chaos erupted.
What is actually going on? The answers from both sides of the political spectrum are loaded with emotion and lacking truthful content.
“Trump is trying to protect us from terrorists! He’s keeping the Muslims out of our country!” shout Trump’s defenders. Well, no terrorist attack on US soil has ever been carried out by anyone from the 7 countries restricted. The countries that have been linked to recent terrorist attacks, such as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, are not included.
“Trump is a racist! He’s banning Muslims! We can’t block people because of their religion!” Scream the liberal protesters. Well, many Muslim majority countries such as Turkey and Indonesia are not included in the ban. Furthermore, the ban applies to all people from these countries, not just Muslims. The Syrian Arab Republic, for example, is home to many Christians, Druze, and even a small Jewish community. The Islamic Republic of Iran has a large population of Armenian Christians, Jews, and many adherents to an ancient faith called Zoroastrianism. All of these non-Muslims are also subject to the ban.
One contributing factor to the outburst of rage is the crass, sudden, “slap in the face” nature of the executive order. Until the administration backed down, even green-card holding permanent residents were being turned away at airports, something that definitely caused anguish and panic among many people.
Calling It A “Muslim Ban” – Good for Trump & the Democrats
Throughout his Presidential election campaign, Trump repeatedly appealed to contempt and distrust of those who practice Islam. He talked about “banning Muslims” from entering the USA. His speech to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee included a lot of pandering to Anti-Islamic sentiments. Millions of working class people in rural and suburban areas voted for Trump, because of these very statements. In the aftermath of 9/11 many Americans have come to see all adherents of the Islamic faith as a single scary, foreign, violent group.
The idea that Trump would enact a “Muslim ban” is something that will increase, not decrease his credibility to millions of the middle aged right-wing working class whites who voted for him in rustbelt and southern states. It plays into Trump’s well crafted image as a bold defender of the common man, who is not politically correct, and unafraid of being scorned by elitist urban liberals.
However, as much as it would please his right-wing, anti-Islamic base, and as much as his opponents proclaim it in condemnation, the reality is that Trump has not enacted a Muslim ban. Donald Trump has temporarily suspended entrance to the United States from seven countries: Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Sudan. Now the US public is having a heated argument about a “Muslim Ban.” Opponents call it bigoted, supporters call it bold, and neither side acknowledges reality.
Observers of American politics should be reminded of the healthcare debate in the early years of the Obama administration. The Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” was not universal healthcare or socialized medicine, and did very little to change the country’s private healthcare system. However, the right-wing rallied against it, proclaiming it was socialism, and the left rallied in its defense, employing socialistic rhetoric. Both sides of the American political spectrum clashed with each other, accepting a similar fictional narrative about the Affordable Care Act.
The Non-Spontaneous Airport Protests
After this sudden action, much like the healthcare debate, “the gloves have come off.” In 2009, Tea Partiers responded to the Affordable Care Act by displaying firearms at townhall meetings and engaging in other acts of protest that are normally considered “out of bounds.” In response to Trump, the Democratic Party apparatus mobilized its supporters to protest inside of airports. The demonstrations were mobilized very rapidly, and got intense with people being arrested, and maced with pepper spray at various locations.
Those who pretend that the protests were completely random, unplanned, or spontaneous are completely delusional. Airports are among the most free speech restricted locations in the country. While decades ago it was permitted to pass out political leaflets or petition at airports, courts long ago forbid such things. Under normal circumstances it is illegal, not only to engage in protest or “public disturbance” at an airport, but even to video record inside one.
Yet, without any widespread public announcement or organizing, thousands of Democratic Party activists flooded into airports for some rather rowdy protests. Under normal circumstances doing such things would result in immediate arrest and perhaps even terrorism charges. Not only did the police not arrest the initial protesters, but they allowed the demonstrations to grow bigger and bigger. Though videotaping is not permitted in airports, live streaming videos found their way on to social media, and TV news cameras conveniently found their way in as well.
In many countries when the elected government is toppled by the military, one of the first actions taken is seizing the airports. One could even read into the sudden mobilizations, clearly supported by some of the most powerful people in Democratic Party, a veiled threat of a military coup d’etat.
The CIA Strikes Back
But why was there such a swift response to Trump’s action? Why did the Democratic Party unleash its forces so rapidly in response to Trump’s move? Are the Democrats like Hillary Clinton, who tweeted in support of the protests, simply humanitarians who hold deep compassion for immigrants?