Today, in the depths of Winter in refugee camps strewn throughout Europe and the Middle East, young Muslim women huddle in tents with Muslim babies. They shiver under blankets like the soldiers at Valley Forge. Some of them, lacking heat, food, medicine, or adequate shelter, will die. Some have already died. We face a humanitarian crisis that would turn even the coldest heart; our brothers and sisters begging for help.
So yesterday, on National Holocaust Remembrance Day, our President, our Predator-in-Chief, declared a moratorium on the admission to the United States not only of those refugees but of all citizens of the Muslim countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. That he chose Holocaust Day, which remembers the death of millions of Jews in Hitler’s death camps, to sign the bill is terrible in its irony. It is also sadly appropriate given that the United States turned its back on the Jews in their time of need, denying the exit visas they begged for and the assistance that might have saved them. Now, Mr. Trump turns his back on the Muslims, many of whom were displaced by and are fleeing the destruction of their countries by sectarian violence unleashed by American foreign policy, their homes destroyed by weapons “made in the USA”.
These orders do not bear up under any standard of rational scrutiny. The greatest terrorist attack in US history, on 9/11, was largely carried out by Saudi Arabian nationals radicalized in fundamentalist Saudi Wahhabi schools supported by the Saudi government. The Saudis are exempt from Trump’s order. Terrorist attacks in France and Germany were carried out by terrorists already residing in those countries. Again, not covered. Then again, the order does cover Muslim citizens of Muslim countries who risked their lives and the enmity of their neighbors by supporting American interests, in helping American troops, and in informing on terrorists in their midst. Should they be forced to flee, it won’t be to our country.
Nor do the orders take account of the backlash that they invite against our interests. The United States turning its back on Muslims is not lost on Muslims. It verifies and legitimizes the very ISIS propaganda that is so dangerous to our interests in the Middle East. The refugees will not forget. And American citizens traveling abroad, particularly in Muslim countries, will now face the disdain, the stares, the sneers, and worse of their citizens. Should I mention that our Constitution prohibits tests based on or stemming from religious belief? Do I need to?
You know the famous Emma Lazarus poem, with the lines, “…give me your tired, your poor,/ your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/ the wretched refuse of your teeming shore./ Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,/ I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Lady Liberty weeps today. How dare we?
And that Republican Congress – the only power that can bring Trump to rein. Where are they? The silence is deafening. The great Italian poet Dante had a place for these people. I hear it gets warm down there. Trump’s reservation is on the ground floor. Hot. Very hot.