European leaders, the United Nations and international groups have condemned US President Donald Trump’s measures against refugees and travellers from several Muslim-majority countries.
The chorus of criticism came as passport holders from Arab countries were blocked on Saturday from passing through customs at US airports and others were prevented from boarding US-bound planes.
On Wednesday night, thousands of protesters packed into Washington Square Park in New York for an emergency rally in support of Muslim and immigrant rights. The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations organized the event after leaked documents showed Trump is preparing to sign an executive order blocking visas from being issued to anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. We hear from New York City Public Advocate Letitia James and Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour and speak to Vincent Warren of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Faiza Patel of the Brennan Center.
IT IS NOT DIFFICULT for any decent human being to immediately apprehend why and how Donald Trump’s ban on immigrants from seven Muslim countries is inhumane, bigoted, and shameful. During the campaign, the evil of the policy was recognized even by Mike Pence (“offensive and unconstitutional”) and Paul Ryan (violative of America’s “fundamental values”), who are far too craven and cowardly to object now.
Trump’s own Defense Secretary, Gen. James Mattis, said when Trump first advocated his Muslim ban back in August that “we have lost faith in reason,” adding: “This kind of thing is causing us great damage right now, and it’s sending shock waves through this international system.”
The sole ostensible rationale for this ban – it is necessary to keep out Muslim extremists – collapses upon the most minimal scrutiny. The countries which have produced and supported the greatest number of anti-U.S. terrorists – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, UAE – are excluded from the ban list because the tyrannical regimes that run those countries are close U.S. allies. Conversely, the countries that are included – Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Iran, Sudan and Yemen – have produced virtually no such terrorists; as the Cato Institute documented on Friday night: “Foreigners from those seven nations have killed zero Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and the end of 2015.” Indeed, as of a 2015 study by the New America research center, deaths caused by terrorism from right-wing nationalists since 9/11 have significantly exceeded those from Muslim extremists.
The crowd was small, the weather was bad and the speech, which described “American carnage”, was dire. For the tens of millions who voted against him and countless concerned others, Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States felt ominous, no matter how widely Barack Obama smiled and no matter how gracefully he and Michelle Obama made the transition from hosts to departing guests.
The feeling of foreboding did not last. It was overtaken within hours by the realization, at the arrival of the first of the new president’s executive actions, that the most outrageous campaign promises Trump had made to the smallest core of his supporters were now official US policy, or about to be.
Within a week, the rally chant “build the wall!” had morphed into a phrase published on White House stationery: “impassable physical barrier”. A proposed ban on Muslim immigrants took shape as a suspension of visa programs from countries that, as Trump put it, “have tremendous terror”. Grumbling about excessive government regulation had become, in one document, an exhortation to bureaucrats to help an oil company skip the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
“He’s delivering the goods to his core constituency in a really visible way,” said John T Woolley, head of the American presidency project at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “But there are a lot of things that he’s raising that may be above what he truly has the ability to do.”
Thanks to the millions of people who donned pink pussy hats all over the world last Saturday in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, environmental activists are now organizing a march in order to send their own message to the Trump White House. They’ve staked out April 29, the Saturday before Trump’s 100th day in office, for the People’s Climate March.
The march is being steered by 25 different organizations, including the Sierra Club, the NAACP, Service Employees International Union, US Climate Action Network, and the Hip Hop Caucus—which hopefully means that there will be some really great entertainment lined up for the event.
“There is no denying it: Donald Trump’s election is a threat to the future of our planet, the safety of our communities, and the health of our families,” organizers wrote in a statement. “This new administration is attacking the hard-won protections of our climate, health, and communities, and the rights of people of color, workers, indigenous people, immigrants, women, LGBTQIA, young people, and more.”