Yesterday Trump’s alternate universe ran into the fresh air of reality. At least for that moment, it was staggered. Trump’s ban directed against Muslims encountered the reality of ordinary people with passports and visas and green cards being seized and detained at the nations airports. And in a flash response only possible with the advent of smart phones, thousands of demonstrators rose in protest. Crowds poured out to JFK, Dulles , and Seatac, and other airports across the country to demand the release of these new hostages. And like a scene from a Greek tragedy, deus ex machina, a federal judge issued a stay of Trump’s orders.
These events exposed the cruelty and callousness of Trump, denying haven even to the paltry number of refugees previously accepted, and subjecting the world at large to his impulse of the moment. As written (some speculate by his Breitbart pal Steve Bannon), the ban did not withstand even limited scrutiny. Both federal statutes and Constitutional law prohibit targeting based on religion and national origin. That is particularly so when the selected targets appear to be random – Iraq, but not Saudi Arabia – Syria, but not Lebanon – Sudan, but not Egypt.
Trump’s ban was intellectually and morally bankrupt, and executed with notable incompetence. The ban pandered to the alt-right wing, paying off on a political promise, rather than rationally addressing the threat posed by radicalized terrorists. Trump appears not to have considered that the ban would apply in real time to thousands of ordinary people from modern cultures – doctors, and lawyers, and businessmen with cell phones – and that the world would react.
Thus, for example, with the ban, it was quickly revealed that Oscar nominated film director Asghar Farhadi, nominated for The Salesman, and winner in 2012 for A Separation, would be unable to attend the Academy Awards.
Or consider this news article from Philadelphia where Philadelphia Mayor Kenney responded to the deportation of two Syrian families as follows:
“I am sickened by reports that federal officials, without knowledge or cooperation of PHL Airport staff, detained and then turned away two Syrian families. By several accounts, these families waited months to obtain the proper documentation so they could come to our country legally. And still, they were sent back to a war-torn nation that has used chemical warfare against its own people. The Trump administration very well may have just given these families a death sentence.”
Totally innocent men and women, without probable cause of wrongdoing, at airports across the country, flying with valid passports and visas pursuant to long-made plans with long-purchased tickets, found themselves, de facto, ambushed by US authorities.
In response to the Trump ban, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took immediate action, welcoming any refugees affected by the ban, and tweeting: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.” We have to wonder whether, with Canada opening its arms to these refugee terrorists, it is now necessary to build a second wall, on the Canadian border.
But enough. The federal court stay is only temporary and at stake with Trump in power is the governance of our country, the protection of our democracy, and the preservation of civil liberties. The fight is only beginning. I will be protesting today at Bradley Airport in Hartford because the demonstrations are the one visible protest that our representatives and the media cannot fully ignore. Find the protests near you and join in with all the energy you can muster. Don’t give up. Don’t give in.