Donald Trump’s “Muslim Ban”

When is a Muslim Ban not a Muslim Ban?

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I hold no brief for Donald Trump. I believe he is unfit to hold the high office to which he has been elected. An absurd reality television “star” who was born into wealth and privilege but is somehow the champion of the dispossessed? Give me a break. His Twitter ravings alone make this man a disgrace to the Presidency of the United States. In short, Trump is an American billionaire version of the pointless and talentless Russell Brand whose laughable attempts to reinvent himself as a political messiah after the failure of his Hollywood career gave me a brief chuckle back in 2014. (Still, compared to Lily Allen, Brand is Stephen Hawking).

However, Trump’s political opponents have made serious of glaring errors in the first couple of weeks of his term of office. To oppose everything the President says and does is foolish, it makes you look petty and vindictive. Unfortunately, this appears to have been the pattern in US politics since the divisive election of 2000 (remember that?). Democrats spent eight years opposing George W. Bush’s every move and Republicans spent the next eight years blocking Obama’s agenda. The US Constitution is designed to balance power between the President, Congress and the Supreme Court; it depends on compromise and co-operation. To simply oppose everything the President does will continue the gridlock of the past sixteen years and allow Trump to attack the “Washington elite,” a tactic that was one of his most powerful campaigns weapons. And don’t forget, it was also one of Bernie Saunders’ favourites.

Some folks are still banging on about the irrelevant fact that Trump lost the so-called popular vote and that this makes him an illegitimate President. If you don’t understand how an electoral system works, perhaps you shouldn’t comment. As an example, in 1860 Abraham Lincoln gained  60% of the Electoral College votes with less than 40% of the popular vote. The point is that the United States has a federal system not a national one. States’ rights are jealously guarded, particularly by the smaller states. Indeed, the US Constitution as it stands would not exist without the Great Compromise between the smaller and the larger states; this compromise gave the smaller states equal representation in the Senate and a larger share in the Electoral College than their populations would merit. Hillary Clinton’s plurality in the popular vote can be wholly explained by her crushing victory in California where she won 60% of the vote. Trump won 30 out of 50 states and won the Electoral College 304-227; one could argue that avoiding the heavily populated state of California overriding the wishes of many small states is exactly what the framers of the Federal Constitution had in mind. All electoral systems have their quirks and it is interesting to note that some of those shouting loudest about Trump’s defeat in the popular vote seem happy that the Scottish Nazi Party won 95% of the Scottish seats in the 2015 UK general election with 50% of the vote. Unless you have Israeli-style proportional representation where the whole country is effectively one constituency, then quirks like these are going to occur. Incidentally, a strictly proportional system would have elected about 82 UKIP MPs in 2015. Just saying.

Trump’s opponents have also failed to own up to the inadequacies of the democratic candidate for the Presidency in 2016. Hillary Clinton’s form in presidential politics is extremely poor. She lost the 2008 Democratic primary to a virtually unknown first-term senator and was pushed to a near deadheat in 2016 by an irascible, self-proclaimed socialist (in some parts of the USA, you would be better off running as a child molester than a socialist). Clinton then contrived to lose the election to Trump. She comes across as someone with an enormous sense of entitlement and always gives the impression that she will say anything on any issue to get a few more votes. Give Trump credit, his reality television experience has made him very quick on his feet; Clinton’s performances on the stump and in debate are carved from solid oak. Hillary Clinton also doesn’t like to listen to advice; there are reports of a screaming match between her and Bill Clinton (surely the most gifted politician of his generation) when he suggested dropping the identity politics in favour of old-fashioned appeals to the working class. “It’s the economy, stupid” was a much better campaign slogan than “hey, vote for me because I’m a woman you dumb, racist, misogynist, homophobic yokels.”

But the biggest own goal by Trump’s opponents has been the near hysterical over-reaction to his “Muslim ban.” Now, let’s just calm down for a moment and look at this objectively. Trump’s “Muslim ban” is neither a “ban” nor is it directed against “Muslims.”

For a start, one should actually read the Executive Order before commenting. I know, I know, that’s not how the world works today but I bet most of the people who tweeted about this “Muslim ban” did so without first reading the actual text. Pound to a penny that Lily Allen didn’t read the Executive Order (assuming she can actually read).

The key part for me is this…

“… the Secretary of State shall request all foreign governments that do not supply such information to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification.”

That’s from Section 3(d) of the Executive Order. President Trump wants the countries covered by the ban to start supplying intelligence to the United Sates and he has given them 60 days to respond to his request.

Nowhere in the Executive Order does the word “Muslim” appear; the text refers repeatedly to “foreign nationals.” There is also no mention of the seven countries covered by the ban – these countries come from an Obama Administration law. Obama stopped Iraqis from entering the USA in 2011 and Jimmy Carter did the same with Iranians back in 1980. These are not difficult things to find out in 2017. Instead of reaching instantly for Twitter to express your outrage, take a deep breath and do a little reading before you comment.

Incidentally, whilst reading about this topic I found out that six out of the seven countries covered by Trump’s Executive Order ban entry to Israeli passport holders. Apparently, sixteen (or eighteen depending on your source) countries ban Israelis; some countries even ban entry to people whose non-Israeli passports contain Israeli stamps. If Trump’s Executive Order is a “Muslim ban” are these countries operating a “Jew ban”?

Trump’s opponents are being extraordinarily careless in their choice of allies and they are very careless in throwing around emotive terms like “Muslim ban” whilst evoking the Holocaust. Some of Trump’s opponents claim that this is a “Muslim ban” because Somalia (for example) is 99% Muslim. Sorry, that just doesn’t work. There is no free society on Earth (and I doubt there ever has been) where 99% of people agree on anything, ever. Both Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher claimed legitimacy for their radical agendas based on about 43% of the vote. Anyone claiming that 99% of people agree with them is either deluded or standing at the apex of an extremely repressive society.

The very phrase “Muslim country” is racist. Anyone who says they “know” someone’s theological leanings because of their race or national origin is just as racist as someone who calls those same people rapists or terrorists. “Muslim” is not a race and nor is “Islam”so it is impossible to be racially prejudiced against either. I defy anyone to look at a group of Middle Easterners  and pick out a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim or a Yazidi based solely on “racial” characteristics.

And how does Kuwait fit into the condemnation of Trump’s “Muslim ban”? Kuwait is a “Muslim country” (90%+ Muslim if you believe such nonsense) but it bans nationals from five of the countries on Trump’s list (plus four others) because of the “difficult security situation” in those countries. Kuwait also operates “Jew ban” on Israeli passport holders.

How do I know it is racist to refer to “Muslim countries”? Look at the disapprobation heaped on the odious Benjamin Netanyahu (a man who could start an argument in an empty room) when he calls Israel a “Jewish country.” Or the disgust shown for the repugnant Marine “hands in the till” Le Pen when she refers to France as a secular nation.

So why do Trump’s opponents ally with fascist theocrats to oppose a mythical “Muslim ban” whilst studiously ignoring the women, gays and minority religions who are the real victims of the aforementioned theocrats? Has their blind hatred of Trump warped their moral values so much that they jump into bed with the very forces they claim to oppose? Only time will tell.

 

 

 

 

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