Which is more morally reprehensible: (1) Introducing a ban on refugees and immigrants from a small number of countries for a temporary period or (2) Killing people and destroying their countries through illegal regime change wars?
A bit of a no-brainer, eh? It has to be the second answer, surely.
Well, you’d think so, but for some it seems, the first option is far worse than the latter.
How else to explain that large sections of the Western liberal-left seem to be more incensed by Donald Trump’s ban on visitors from some Muslim countries (unjust though it is) than they were by the war which destroyed Libya, a country that had the highest living standards in Africa.
In their anti-Trump crusade, some ‘progressives’ appear perfectly happy to link arms and sing ‘Kumbaya’ with the serial warmongers who unleashed the carnage which caused the refugee crisis in the first place?
Trump’s executive order has caused a furious liberal backlash which Obama’s backing of jihadist death squads in Syria never did. It has led to widespread protests in the US and UK. Over 1.7 million people have signed a petition calling for the State visit of the American president to the UK to be called off. In the House of Commons on Monday, Trump was called a fascist and likened to Hitler and Mussolini, while outside Downing Street angry demonstrators shouted ‘Donald Trump has got to go!’ Parliamentary sketch writer Quentin Letts said the eyes of politician Yvette Cooper were “bulging so much she could have gone to a fancy dress party as Marty Feldman.”
“If the Olympic Games ever goes in for synchronized crossness, we’ll be dead certs for a medal position,” Letts observed.
If you can’t remember this level of ‘synchronized crossness’ during Barack Obama’s bombing of Libya, then it’s not surprising. Similar protests did not occur. There was no talk of a Hollywood strike. Yvette Cooper’s eyes did not bulge; she supported the refugee-making bombing of Libya as she did the refugee-making Iraq war.
You don’t have to be a Trump supporter to acknowledge that ‘Barack O’Bomber’ and his predecessors in the White House have got off very lightly. Deportations? The ‘liberal’ Obama deported more than 2.5 million undocumented migrants between 2009-2015 and a record 438,421 people in 2013.
To the best of my knowledge, Owen Jones organized no protests.
Trump’s executive order didn’t just appear out of thin air, the list of ‘countries of concern’ was, as Seth Frantzman has pointed out, already compiled by the Obama administration. “The media should also be truthful with the public and instead of claiming Trump singled out seven countries, it should note that the US Congress and Obama’s Department of Homeland Security had singled out these countries,” Frantzan says.
The hypocrisy doesn’t end there.
We’ve heard a lot these last few days about how Trump’s ban is an “assault on American values” (Obama himself has said ‘American values’ are at stake) conjuring up an image of the pre-Trump USA whose doors were opened wide for migrants and refugees from all over the world.
The truth is that for a long time it’s been pretty tough to get into the US if you’re in possession of the ‘wrong’ kind of passport, and sometimes even if you have the ‘right’ one.
“Americans seem to think it’s alright to subject everyone else to the pointless rigmarole of passing through their Homeland Security but when they travel they expect to be allowed through other countries’ immigration without fuss,” writes Peter Hill in the Daily Express.
We all know someone who’s been turned back at US immigration as they failed one entry requirement or another, and has been sent straight back home on the next flight. The son of Hungarian friends of ours always dreamed of going to the US, and hoped to work there, but he was turned back on arrival as the authorities didn’t believe he had enough money to support himself.
Fair enough, it’s the US authorities’ call; America is a sovereign country, and they set their own rules of entry. This tough approach at the borders didn’t just start on Friday when Dr. Evil aka Donald Trump formally became president.
That said, there are legitimate grounds to object to what the new president has ordered.
Even though he wasn’t responsible for the regime change wars which caused the migrant crisis, and has promised a less meddlesome foreign policy, Trump should at least acknowledge that the US has a moral obligation to take in refugees from countries that the US, under previous administrations, has set out to destabilize.
We can also question why some countries are affected by the temporary ban, and others not. If national security is the issue, why wasn’t Saudi Arabia, the home country of 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers, on the list? I’m not suggesting Saudi nationals should be banned from the US, only pointing out the omission.
But unfair as it undoubtedly is, the reaction to Trump’s executive order has been overblown, if we compare it to the non-reaction to far worse things US governments have done. As Bertolt Brecht might have said if he was still around: What’s refusing a visa to a Libyan, compared to bombing him? The Nuremberg judgment of 1946 rightly held that to initiate a war of aggression was the “supreme international crime,” but that seems to have been forgotten today.
Such is the ‘Sorosification‘ of the Western liberal-left that to impose controls on immigration is now regarded as a more heinous crime than launching brutal, imperialist wars of aggression, which are a prime cause of the significant level of migration from the Middle East. At the same time, the people who create and propagandize for destructive wars for economic gain against countries of the global south, are regarded as less reprehensible than those who advocate visa restrictions, especially if they come out and condemn visa restrictions.
Liberals, for instance, fawned over the former Secretary of State Madeline Albright when she said she “stands ready” to “register as Muslim” in “solidarity” against Trump. The very same Madeline Albright once declared that the death of half a million (predominantly Muslim) children in Iraq due to sanctions was a price that was “worth it.”
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Will Albright be met with large-scale protests next time she comes to the UK for defending infanticide in Iraq? Don’t hold your breath. She’s against ‘The Donald’ so must be a good ‘un.
Serial warmonger John McCain has also come out to blast Trump’s executive order. He’s the man who, when asked what he was going to do about Iran if elected president, sang “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” to the Beach Boys tune Barbara Ann.
How many Muslims would have been killed if McCain had bombed Iran? But hey, he opposes Trump’s visa ban, so he must be a pretty cool dude. Let’s invite the wannabe bomber of Teheran on the next ’Solidarity with Muslims’ protest, shall we?
In 2015, a report called Body Count, the Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, revealed that at least 1.3 million people had lost their lives in the US-led ‘war on terror’ in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.’ As I wrote at the time: As awful as that sounds, the total of 1.3 million deaths does not take into account casualties in other war zones, such as Yemen – and the authors stress that the figure is a “conservative estimate.”
The vast majority of these deaths will have been Muslims. What a pity their deaths, and the deaths of countless others in US-led regime change ops and “liberal interventions,” did not lead to the same level of ‘synchronized crossness’ that Trump’s executive order has.
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Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.