Cruel but Usual
The Inhuman Human Toll of Trump’s Muslim Ban
The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday on Muslim ban 3.0. Here’s hoping they’ll see it for the charade intended to mask bigotry that it is.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments as it decides the constitutionality of Trump’s Muslim ban 3.0. And yes, it’s a Muslim ban, even though not all Muslims are banned. It’s hilarious to see the right wingers who despise political correctness being p.c. when it comes to this ban designed to be step one in keeping Muslims out of America.
And to be clear, all three executive orders Trump has signed attempting to implement a ban on Muslims spring from the same place. That, of course, was Trump’s proclamation on December 8, 2015 during the heart of the campaign, when he told his cheering fans: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
Trump’s call to ban over a billion people from America simply because of their religious faith—a sentiment as revolting today as when Trump first called for it – overjoyed the GOP base. Remember, just two months before that, fellow GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson had remarked that a Muslim American should not be president of the United States. The response was swift: Carson jumped in the GOP polls and saw a fundraising boon, telling the media, “The money has been coming in so fast, it's hard to even keep up with it," as he raised $1 million in the next 24 hours.
That was not lost on Trump, who commented a few weeks later about Carson’s anti-Muslim remarks: “He’s been getting a lot of ink on the Muslims and other things,” adding, “And I guess people look at that and they probably like it. Some people thought they wouldn’t like it, but they probably do.”
That history makes it crystal clear that Trump’s Muslim ban was designed to give a GOP base hungry to hate some blood-red meat. Trump’s Muslim bashing didn’t stop with campaign rhetoric such as his claim that “Islam hates us.” As President, Trump retweeted three horrific anti-Muslim videos this past November that were created by a notorious anti-Muslim hate group and were designed expressly to gin up hate of Muslims.
Thankfully, the federal courts that have considered Trump’s three executive orders have also taken into account Trump’s history of anti-Muslim hate—and so they should. Federal courts in the past have considered the intention of legislators when reviewing a law that might be neutral on its face but was drafted with discriminatory intent. We saw an example of that in 2016 when a federal appeals court struck down a GOP-enacted voter ID law in North Carolina noting that it had been drafted deliberately to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision” with the goal being to disenfranchise them. Consequently, the first two Muslim bans were effectively put on hold by the federal courts in large part due to Trump’s track record of anti-Muslim animus.
Hopefully, a majority of the Supreme Court justices will do the same as they decide this case which focuses on Trump’s ban 3.0 that focuses on eight countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Yemen. This Muslim ban 3.0 was signed by Trump in September 2017 and added North Korea and Venezuela to the list of countries in an effort to pretend this wasn’t a Muslim ban. But as the ACLU has accurately pointed out, only 61 people from North Korea even received a visa last year to the United States, and the ban regarding Venezuela doesn’t apply to the country as a whole, rather only to certain government officials.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Muslim ban to take effect in December 2017 while this case was on appeal, impacting countless people who were banned from coming to the United States for educational purposes, to visit sick family members or even reunite with spouses and children. If the Supreme Court upholds this Muslim ban, there’s little doubt he will try to expand it to more Muslim-majority countries.
And let’s be clear: The claim that this Muslim ban is about securing our nation is a charade intended to mask bigotry. That point was made emphatically by 55 former officials from Republican and Democratic administrations, including CIA directors and counterterrorism chiefs, who have condemned Trump’s Muslim ban as “counterproductive and antithetical to American values.”
Add to that, in a friend of the court brief submitted to the Supreme Court in opposition to Trump’s Muslim ban, nearly 30 retired generals and admirals made it clear that the ban actually makes us less safe as well as jeopardizes our troops, because it undermines efforts to build local allies in the Middle East and helps ISIS recruit.
The effect of Trump’s attempted Muslim bans, however, extend beyond the Muslim countries Trump has targeted. We’ve seen the impact right here on our soil in the form of a spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes over the past year. As documented by the Council on American Islamic Relations in a report released Monday, in 2017 there was “a 17 percent increase in anti-Muslim bias incidents and a 15 percent increase in hate crimes in 2017 over the previous year.” As CAIR’s Research and Advocacy Coordinator Zainab Arain commented, its study has found that Trump’s “unconstitutional Muslim Ban resulted in more Islamophobic hate and violence."
Add to that, this fiscal year the Trump administration is on track to the accept the smallest number of refuges since the 1980 law was enacted that created our nation’s modern resettlement program. In actual numbers that translates into Trump accepting 21,000 refugees, roughly a quarter of the number accepted during the last year of the Obama administration.
And with regard to refugees, only about 15 percent are Muslim, down from 47 percent a year ago. This again is consistent with Trump’s campaign promise to prioritize Christian refugees while closing the doors on Muslims in need of help simply because of their faith.
Trump is the most openly anti-Muslim person to serve as president as evidenced from his rhetoric to his Muslim ban to closing the door on Muslim refugees. Changing Trump or the bigotry of the GOP base is likely impossible. The best hope, though, is that the U.S. Supreme Court will at least prevent Trump from turning his bigotry into policy by striking down Trump’s Muslim ban 3.0.