Mellanöstern och Nordafrika Tidningen
Published On: Wed, Feb 1st, 2017

Banning (Muslims) Terrorists in the Trump Era

The only thing worse these days than the twittering rhetorical effluvium of President Trump is the impact of his executive disorders. Without consulting seasoned diplomats at the State Department, nor with the approval of the acting Attorney General, the Bannon-led cabal of Trump insiders created chaos at airports in the United States and around the world with the announcement on January 27 that effective immediately there was a total entry ban on individuals from seven Muslim-majority Middle Eastern states: Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq. At first this even seemed to be applied to green-card holders and dual citizens with these countries.

One of the first victims was a returning Iraqi, Hameed Khaled Darweesh, who had assisted the United States operation in Iraq for 10 years. With the help of two New York representatives, Mr. Darweesh was released after 19 hours. Among other victims of this hasty, unthought-out directive was a five-year old Iranian boy allegedly hand-cuffed during detention. The petulant White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, responded to this case by arguing that age did not matter in looking for a suspected terrorist. The fact that this boy has already gone through the security precautions airlines use and his mother was anxiously waiting for him obviously did not matter to the White House spinster.

Trump’s remarks during the campaign made no pretense of distinguishing Muslims in general from potential terrorists, despite his repeated half-hearted attempts to backtrack. His close advisor, the alt-right ideologue Steve Bannon, clearly follows an Islamophobic agenda. The fact that the crusading anti-Islamic Frank Gaffney is advising Trump further suggests that it is in fact meant to be a Muslim ban. Even Rudy Giuliani has admitted this. Besides, whether or not it is “technically” a ban on Muslims, it is still illegal in the view of many constitutional lawyers.

Opposition to the ban was swift and continuing. Academics affiliated with the American Academy of Religion have created a petition condemning the ban. The Middle East Studies Association has also weighed in with condemnation. Presidents of major universities, including Harvard and the University of Chicago, as well as a number of CEOs, including those from Goldman Sachs and EXXON are also critical of the ban. The art of this particular Trump deal is recognized by American businesses as a raw deal in a global market, even beyond his personal fetish for building a wall against Mexico.

The Trump team has yet to realize that the limited support they had from the public at large, both Democrat and Republican legislators, diplomats and career government workers is eroding very fast. The immediate negative impact on the U.S. stock market and price of the dollar are telltale warning signs that the economy is in for a major jolt, even before a trade war is started.  As a CEO of his own company, Trump could fire at will and often did, but the President of the United States is not a CEO and must obey the constitution and the law. Flouting the stays of federal judges, and then firing an Attorney General who rightfully questioned the wisdom of the ban, is a slippery slope to impeachment. Trump’s call to drain the swamp is replacing dedicated government employees with a bizarre collection of billionaire swamp rats, mostly unqualified by any stretch of the imagination to lead the departments some of them have in the past wanted to eliminate. The stench from these new Trump-hired creatures is galvanizing citizen protest, forcing the media to fight back against the torrent of lies from the Trump camp and invigorating legal challenges to his actions.

It would be foolish to predict how long Trump can continue to act out his own way, especially with advisors who seem to have lost touch with rationality, but the American republic has survived many crises in its two century plus existence. Meanwhile, all we can do as American patriots who view Trump’s policies as damaging to the values that once made America a beacon of hope, and still can, is apologize for the present and hope for a better future soon.

About the Author

- Anthropologist and historian with 40 years of experience researching and working in Yemen. Varisco is currently the President of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies, Senior Fellow at the Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg of Bonn University, and an expert advisor to MENA Tidningen.