Trump displays his autocratic diktat banning refugees and people from 7 Muslim-majority nations. -Bloomberg photo
By William Thomas
Opprobrium where opprobrium is due:
In less than four stunning days – Friday evening through Monday, Jan. 30, 2017 – the Donald has traumatized thousands of families living in the USA, separating wives from husbands and mothers from children across a deepening abyss of official racism and hate.
After just eight days in office, America’s budding Führer also managed to alienate most of Europe, Africa and the Arab world – along with much of his Mid-East-serving military, and even most Americans, who voted overwhelmingly for a treacherous opposition candidate largely responsible for the refugees he is turning away.
If Washington’s “War on Terror” is really a scam to provide endless enemies and weapons and logistics contracts for its cynical corporate sponsors, the WOT is quickly becoming WTF for America’s increasingly chary allies.
As agents of Homeland Insecurity refused curt court orders blocking unlawful deportations – and U.S. businesses from Ford to Facebook and Google condemned the de facto “firing” of some of their best workers, now stranded abroad – Trump aides trumpeted the “success” of a move apparently designed to propel their country into rapid, terminal decline. With no friends worth having in sight.
Originally from Syria, Tareq Alolabi was one of many relatives at DFW waiting to reunite with their families.
"I'm just running on coffee, Red Bull and the power of the people," Alolabi said. “After two hours of waiting, my mom just texted me and told me, 'I don't think we're going to make it. They want us to leave on the next flight’.”
In true Trumpian doublespeak, the Department of Homeland Insecurity said Sunday morning that its officers would "comply with judicial orders” and “continue to enforce all of President Trump's executive orders.”
Minnesota residents gather on January 29, 2016 to resist Muslim ban. - Christopher Zumski Finke
REAL PEOPLE, HURTING
Albab, 22, is a first-year, born-in-the-USA American citizen and medical student at the University of Texas.
Her grandparents used to live in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s war-ravaged Syria before receiving their green cards and moving to the U.S. to be with her parents. “They spend most of the year in the U.S., but a few months a year, they fly back to Saudi Arabia to visit my aunt and my uncle who lives in Jordan. Now, they are really in limbo. They can't go back to Syria. They can't really live in Jordan. The U.S. has been their home for four years,” Albaba relates.
Albaba’s green card-holding grandparents are now barred from visiting their 11 children living overseas.
“I went upstairs on Facebook, where I saw a posting about Trump's executive order blocking access to citizens of several countries, including Syria,” Albaba recounts. “I ran downstairs to tell my mom that nobody could enter the country any more. They all started freaking out, my grandmother started crying. It would be my aunt's first time in the United States, and since she just got married, it was meant as a sort of honeymoon, as well.
“My aunt was travelling from Saudi Arabia and had to transit through Dubai. She arrived and got on to her plane to the United States. Five minutes before her flight was about to take off, people from the airport walked on and told her, ‘You have to get off. You're not allowed in the United States anymore’."
“Another cousin, who was imprisoned and tortured in Syria, sought asylum here after his brother was killed. My cousin's family still lives in Jordan, and just received a visa to visit the U.S. on the day the ban was declared.”
A man whose grandparents survived the Holocaust told her, “If people tell you that they hate you, you better believe them. If they don't want you in their country, you should take them at their word. They are telling you how they genuinely feel.”
“With Trump's statements on Muslims, Mexicans, and his actions against women, I took him for his word,” she says. Few other Moslems did, she added. But they do now.
Ali, a 33-year-old Iranian-American engineer and tech start-up consultant living in Los Angeles, doesn’t know if he will see his mother again. The 66-year-old retired school principal in Tehran usually visits the USA once a year. Now she is prohibited entry.
"It's baffling,” says Ali, who became a U.S, citizen in 2013. “It is upsetting to me, it is upsetting to my wife and it is upsetting to my family. They live their own lives, they come visit for a short time and then they go back. They don't pose a threat to anybody, they don't cause harm to anyone, they love the culture in the U.S."
Ali added, “I feel like with these executive actions it's thinning that shining city on the hill – the promised land that everybody looks to."
Vahideh Rasekhi, an Iranian linguistics PhD student at New York’s Stony Brook University, was returning from visiting her family when she was held at Terminal 7 in John F Kennedy airport, then forced onto a plane bound for Kiev. Rasekhi's plane was taxiing on the runway when it was turned around to the terminal after lawyers from the International Refugee Assistance Project intervened.
"I'm scared and feel betrayed by the country I've lived my whole life in," says Noora Mustafa, an 18-year-old high school senior and first generation Libyan-American from Houston, Texas. "It kind of bounces between straight up fear and bewilderment."
Mustafa fears for her brother-in-law, a green card-holder, and orthopedic surgeon iwho travels between Texas and Libya frequently to visit family. “When can he see his family again?" she wants to know.
Trump isn’t saying.
"Closing doors to the world's needy people is not what America should stand for," says Malek Jandali, 44, a German-born Syrian-American, who performs at Carnegie Hall regularly.
Jandali's father, a retired surgeon, and mother, a former physics and chemistry professor, are Syrian refugees who fled Aleppo in 2011. They are currently awaiting their citizenship interviews. It could be a long wait.
Migrants wait in line to receive a plate of food during a snowfall outside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia, January 11, 2017. -Marko Djurica / Reuters
BANNED DESPITE A DOZEN SECURITY CLEARANCES
"They've waited for decades," says Jane Graupman, executive director at the International Institute of Minnesota. "The average refugee has lived 20 years in a refugee camp. They have passed 12 security clearances and medical exams and have plane tickets. I don't know what more vetting there can be."
Two Somali families were due to arrive – one departing from South Africa and the other from Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya. Both arrivals are no longer on the list. No one knows where they are now.
“Omar Podi, a refugee from Somalia who was allowed to move from a refugee camp in Kenya to the U.S. in 2005, had been waiting more than 10 years for the U.S. to let his wife Nafisa Omar Mohamud leave the camp and join him. Trump's executive order has now rendered that impossible,” writes Christopher Zumski Finke.
Leila Ahmad‘s brother's family of 12 had tickets for a flight. Another Somali refugee, Sahra, was expecting her mother, brother, sister, nephew and niece next week. Not anymore.
Executive Director Jane Graupman
"They've been in refugee camps; they've seen unspeakable things," Graupman says. “Things that Americans cannot even imagine. And now, the U.S. won't let them in.”
“The only thing keeping these families out is their religion,” Finke writes. “Since the 1980 Refugee Act was passed, not a single person in the US has been killed by a refugee."
Refugees from Iraq, like Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, receive Special Immigration Visas, a designation protecting their travel because of their often-hazardous work with the U.S. Military.
"It's not an overstatement to say that these people literally put their lives on the line for the U.S.," Graupman said. "It's very confusing that any president would ban SIVs.”
On the move in Syria -Abdalrhman Ismail / Reuters
Refugees coming to the United States are often fleeing terrorism, Finke notes. "They're desperate, and they want to get resettled and get a life for their children," Graupman said. "Go to school, get a job and get an education. They are grateful to be here."
Jaylani Hussein, executive director at the Minnesota chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations, warns that Trump's order will not improve U.S. safety or security. "Rather," he said, "it will reinforce fear, hate and division within our country."
“Slamming shut the doors to the United States of America, which has rigorously vetted refugees for years, is an attack on the basic accepted notion that people should be able to flee for their lives,” Jason Cone, executive director of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)–USA. “Every day our teams on the ground see people desperately seeking safety at closed borders and in war zones from which they cannot flee.”
The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR says 4.9 million Syrians are refugees in neighboring countries, while almost a million have fled to Europe, and more than 6 million are displaced within their own country.
Sudanese Stanford Ph.D. Student Nisrin Elamin describes being detained at JFK
Nisrin Elamin, a PhD student in anthropology at Stanford University and a Sudanese citizen, missed a connecting flight. By the time her plane landed at JFK on Friday, the order was in effect and she was detained.
“I was escorted into a separate holding area. I was questioned extensively, in part, among other things, about my views about the political situation in Sudan, about whether or not I knew of radical groups in Sudan, whether I knew people who had radical views. I was asked to share my social media handles…
“I was touched in my chest and groin area. And then I was handcuffed briefly. That’s when I started to cry…
“There was a lot of confusion. It was very chaotic. And they admitted it to me… They didn’t know what to do with us.
“Eventually, I got out, after five hours… Another Sudanese person was detained for 30 hours and is in his seventies.
“I think this order is a reflection of a larger trend in this country to criminalize black people, to criminalize immigrants, to criminalize Muslims. And as a black Muslim immigrant, I’m really concerned about that.”
WHITE TERRORISTS ARE NOT TERRORISTS
Ms. Elamin is not the only Muslim asking where is the ban on white Christian males after white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine black Americans in Charleston.
Dr. Su'ad Abdul Khabeer
“White Americans cause the largest numbers of American deaths by terrorist acts on U.S. soil,” observes Dr. Su'ad Abdul Khabeer, assistant professor of Anthropology and African American Studies at Purdue University. “Yet unsurprisingly, Trump has not signed any executive orders specifically targeting white Americans.
“Violence against women, honour killings in particular, is cited two times in the draft as something from which the U.S. government is obliged to protect Americans.
“It feeds into an idea that violence against women is a particularly Muslim thing, due to their backwards culture. Yet in the U.S., every minute nearly 20 people, the majority of whom women, are victims of intimate partner abuse. However, Trump is not ramping up protections for violence against women here at home.
“In fact, while he is marking himself the anti-honour killings crusader abroad, he is cutting funding for the Office on Violence Against Women. This means cuts to programmes around the country that try to prevent domestic violence and provide services, like transitional housing and legal aid – services that would surely be of benefit to the white and working-class women among Trump's supporters.”
journalist Robert Parry
A PERMANENT BAN?
Trump’s seven-nation hit list “includes Iran, Syria and Sudan as state sponsors of terrorism and Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Libya as countries where there has been terrorist activity,” writes investigative reporter Robert Parry, who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for the Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.
“But the governments of Iran and Syria arguably have become two of the leading fighters against the terrorist groups of most concern to the U.S. and European populations.
“Iran is aiding both Syria and Iraq in their conflicts with Al Qaeda and Islamic State. Inside Syria, the Syrian army has borne the brunt of that fighting against terror groups funded and armed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and… at least indirectly, the United States. Yet while none of the Al Qaeda/Islamic State benefactors made Trump’s list, Iran and Syria did.
“Not only is Trump’s ban a blunderbuss blast at thousands of innocent Muslims who have no intention of hurting the United States but it doesn’t even take aim at the most dangerous targets which represent a genuine terrorist threat.”
NIAC Action Executive Director, Jamal Abdi
Since the eventual lifting of Washington’s wide-ranging blacklist depends on those aggrieved governments “sharing information” with Trump and his general-jammed war cabinet, knowledgeable Middle East observers like Jamal Abdi, policy director for the National Iranian American Council, fear the “temporary” ban will become permanent.
TRUMP-STATE DEPARTMENT RIFT WIDENS
“This ban does not achieve its aims and will likely be counterproductive” in the so-called war against terrorism. It will instead “immediately sour relations with these seven countries, as well as much of the Muslim world,” their draft statement read.
Ian and Alison Samuel
ENFORCING ILLEGAL BAN IS... ILLEGAL
“The United States immigration statute had, for 50 years, prohibited the kind of discrimination that this travel ban engages in, and moreover, the U.S. Constitution prohibits targeting people because of their religion,” points out Ian Samuel, a lecturer at Harvard Law School. “No civil servant… is obligated to do illegal things in the course of their duties, and that's exactly what this travel ban asks them to do.”
Those facing religious persecution will be given priority, only if their religion is a minority in their country of nationality. Christians yes. Followers of Mohammed, not.
A STUNNED WORLD REACTS
Thousands of academics, 11 Nobel laureates among them, signed a petition branding the order “discriminatory” and “detrimental to the national security.”
French President Francois Hollande (above) accused Trump of “encouraging extremism” and urged other European countries to stand up to him. German Chancellor Angela Merkel “reportedly explained U.S. obligations under the Refugee Convention to Trump when they spoke on the phone on Saturday,” writes Joshua Keating.
“As a Christian, I find that a repulsive, repugnant way to run a country,” said U.K. lawmaker Peter Grant. “If the Lord and savior that we follow was to turn up today at the American border, he wouldn’t be allowed in because of his Palestinian passport,” Grant said, calling Trump’s ideology depraved and racist.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (reacting to ban above) slammed the travel ban, adding, “The American president is dividing the Muslim world into good and evil with this.”
Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn
Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn warned, “The decision is also bad for Europe because it will increase the Muslim world’s mistrust and hatred of the West.”
“Banishing people from these seven countries “creates mistrust between people,” wrote Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström.
Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen called Trump’s decision “to block people from certain countries” extremely “unwise.” Trump’s politics, Anders added, will “have very harsh consequences.”
London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim to become the mayor of a major Western capital, took to Facebook to slam Trump’s Muslim ban as “shameful and cruel.”
Londoners: Been there, done that, skip Trump and the t-shirt
Shouts of “Fuck Trump” and “Refugees welcome” echoed outside Downing Street on Monday evening as thousands of Londoners condemned Trump’s crackdown on immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries, and his suspension of the U.S. refugee programme. Crowds stretched along Whitehall, reaching as far as Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament at either end, completely blocking traffic and forcing buses to abandon their routes outside Number 10.
“I think what’s happening today could go really wrong, and we’ve seen things go wrong in history before when people didn’t stand up and protest,” commented another unhappy Brit named Ahuv. If the visit goes ahead, “we’ll be here again to let him know how we feel about him.”
“Donald Trump … should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen,” states a U.K. petition signed by 1.4 million people. Only 100,000 signaturess are needed to trigger a parliamentary debate.
The petition also notes: “Donald Trump's well documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales. Therefore during the term of his presidency Donald Trump should not be invited to the United Kingdom for an official State Visit.”
Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, spoke out forcefully against the Muslim ban. -Cole Burston/Bloomberg
Speaking in Ottawa, “Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed those fleeing war and persecution on Saturday, even as Canadian airlines said they would turn back US-bound passengers to comply with an immigration ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries,” the Sydney Herald reports.
The Prime Minister posted the following response:
To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians
will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is
our strength #WelcomeToCanada
12:20 PM - 28 Jan 2017
A pointed follow-up tweet included an archive photo of Prime Minister Trudeau welcoming a Syrian refugee at a Canadian airport in 2015.
While Mr Trudeau was tweeting welcome to refugees, others were questioning whether Canadian Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen – a Somali-Canadian refugee – would be able to travel to the United States under the new rules.
US Magazine reports that Trudeau’s tweet sparked more than 60,000 retweets within the first hour. Many Twitter correspondents applauded the Canadian PM for his post. "Thank you sir. Most of my fellow Americans agree with you," one person wrote. "Please keep setting an example. #WeLoveCanada.”
The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation said it was “gravely concerned” over the executive order and that it would only embolden extremists while “adversely and unjustly” affecting those fleeing war and persecution.
The ban “will provide further fuel to the advocates of violence and terrorism at a critical time when the OIC has been engaged with all partners, including the U.S., to combat extremism and terrorism in all their forms and manifestations."
The head of the African Union says the travel ban – which includes three African countries – heralds "turbulent times" for the continent.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma -thisisafrica.me
"The very country to which many of our people were taken as slaves during the transatlantic slave trade has now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries. What do we do about this?" asked Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, commission chief of the 54-member union during a speech to open an AU summit.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, ”Today is the time for peaceful co-existence, not the time to create distance among nations.”
Iran has called the U.S. decision to suspend visas an “open affront against the Muslim world and the Iranian nation” and promised to “take appropriate consular, legal and political measures,” according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
Malala Yousafzai -Parade
The youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate, 19-year-old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai, said she was “heartbroken,” as “President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers, and fathers fleeing violence and war.”
ONLY THE BEGINNING
“If you can stop them coming, you can chuck them out. If you can demand ‘extreme vetting’ of Muslims from seven countries, you can also demand a ‘values test’ for those Muslims who have already made it to the USA,” writes veteran war correspondent Robert Fisk. [It’s already happening in Texas.] “Refugees one day. Citizens the next. Then refugees again.”
The Britisher from Kent expects “all U.S. embassies to have three queues for visa applicants. One for Muslims, one for Christians, and a third marked ‘Other’.”
The award-winning journalist goes on to note that “America has bombed, directly or indirectly, five of the seven nations on Trump’s banned list… The U.S. blew a packed Iranian passenger airliner out of the sky in 1988 and has raised no objections to Israel’s bombing of Iranian personnel in Syria. So that makes six.”
Meanwhile… “the four countries whose citizens participated in the international crimes against humanity of 9/11 – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Emirates and Lebanon – do not feature on the list.”
Instead, “this vile piece of legislation is… targeting refugees, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The Muslim ones, that is. [But] it’s OK to fast-track Saudi visas – even if they are members of the most inspirational Wahhabi cult in the world: membership includes the Taliban, al-Qaeda, ISIS, you name it.”
Fisk, who as far as I know, has never printed a personal profanity in his long professional career, goes on to ask, “Wasn’t it Britain – and America, for heaven’s sake – that was weeping copious tears, buckets of the stuff, for the 250,000 Muslim refugees of eastern Aleppo a couple of months ago? And now, so much do we care for them, that they are being well and truly f****d.”
But then, racism on this scale is hardly new to the land of the selectively free.
“What did the U.S. do before – or after – Hitler’s evil? It prevented Jewish refugees from coming to America. Yes, even Anne Frank. And now they’re at it again.”
Refugee “terrorist suspect” ponders her fate -Osman Orsal/Reuters
THEY DIDN’T KNOW THEY WERE “TERRORISTS”
Those “threats” include about a half-million “aliens” from the seven countries who have received green cards in the past decade, allowing them to live and work in the United States indefinitely – including over a quarter-million 250,000 Iranian and Iraqi citizens. With the stroke of a poisoned presidential pen, these up-to-now peaceful and law-abiding people have become suspected “terrorists” overnight.
“We don’t want them here,” Trump told the world, conflating refugees and legitimate visa-holders with violent terrorists. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting to our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.”
SPEAKING OF THOSE AMERICAN SOLDIERS…
“I helped get those people freed at Dulles last night,” a Washington attorney told reporter Jefferson Morley outside a Washington coffee shop on Sunday morning.
“You helped those people get out?” a tall silver-haired passerby interrupted, shaking the attorney's hand.
"I just got back from Baghdad," the man said. "I’m career U.S. Army. They blocked three of my translators with that order. These are Iraqis who have been working for me for years. These are people who have risked a lot, more than many U.S. soldiers. And we’re turning them away? It is unthinkable. It is unacceptable.”
Asked what the effect would be on getting Army translators in the future, the man said, “They’ll never work for us again.”
The decision showed not only a "sickening lack of empathy," Kyle Dykstra, former member of the 82nd Airborne told the Chicago Tribune, “but a lack of perspective for how it will complicate the lives of U.S. troops who work with Muslim troops and interpreters."
“Today I am deeply saddened by the news of the executive order banning immigration,” writes Marie Tillman, widow of Army Ranger and former NFL player Pat Tillman, “wasted” by friendly-fire in Afghanistan.
TRUMP HAMMERS USA CORPORATIONS
In a classic quick-draw move that shot American executives in both feet, Trump’s ill-considered signature is also making U.S. businesses less competitive.
Microsoft says its “business is based on successfully attracting and retaining talented employees” in an “extremely competitive” industry. “We are limited in our ability to recruit internationally by restrictive domestic immigration laws,” the company stated in its latest pre-ban tech report.
“Changes to U.S. immigration policies that restrain the flow of technical and professional talent may inhibit our ability to adequately staff our research and development efforts. If we are less successful in our recruiting efforts, or if we cannot retain key employees, our ability to develop and deliver successful products and services may be adversely affected.”
“A MASSIVE SUCCESS”
As U.S. judges in at least five states moved to block federal authorities from enforcing the order, delighted Trump aides are calling the ban on millions of travelers, USA family members, already-vetted refugees, newly U.S.-created refugees, and high-level U.S. corporate employees from seven Muslim-majority countries a “massive success story.”
Trump achieved another personal and presidential first when disapproval ratings spiked over the weekend, making him the first U.S. president to receive the highest disapproval ratings within the least amount of time.
“…this is not a Muslim ban,” Trump said of his Muslim ban. On Monday, he tweeted, “A lot of bad “dudes” out there!”
He should know.
BLAME IT ON BUSH
Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer tried to spin G. Dubya into the White House narrative, saying that the new regime took language from previous acts hastily drafted following the 9/11 attacks. That Bush registry was discarded after being found ineffective and causing ethical and international concerns.
Spicer soothed that Trump made calls “all weekend” to Muslim nations to try smoothing over an insult no Moslem will ever forget. Iraq and Iran have already taken action to ban U.S. passport holders.
Calling long distance n from a separate reality, Spicer insisted that causing rifts in relationships with strategic allies was of zero concern because the Donald wants to “make America safe again.”
So why was the surprise order issued without a heads-up to airline and immigration officials on a Friday evening, when explanations of the abrupt immigration policy shift could not be obtained?
To “protect national security,” Spicer said.
ISIS CHEERED TRUMP ELECTION VICTORY
Islamist State terrorists say Trump’s achieved just the opposite by confirming the prediction of Anwar Awlaki, the droned American-born jihadist who predicted “Western governments would eventually suppress their own Muslim populations as part of the so-called war on terror,” Jefferson Morley mentions.
Delighted ISIS leaders are already high-fiving each other over their propaganda and recruitment windfall. ISIS commenters have welcomed Trump’s boldly divisive move, calling it a “blessed ban” because it “clearly revealed the truth and harsh reality behind the American government’s hatred toward Muslims.”
DRUMPF IS HIS FAMILY NAME
On Good Morning (And Good Luck) America, top Drumpf sycophant, Kellyanne Conway groused about “all these protesters” standing up for endangered American values in airports across their divided nation.
Host George Stephanopoulos helpfully pointed out that Trump had referenced the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in his executive order banning travel from seven Muslim countries.
“None of the deadly terror attacks in this country since 9/11 have been carried by anyone from those seven countries,” he noted. “Eighteen of the 19 9/11 attackers came from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates — there is no ban from that country [sic]. Those countries also happen to be countries where President Trump has significant business interests.”
The fast-aging Conway accused Stephanopoulos of “cherry picking” … what exactly? Historical facts?
“I mean, Donald Trump has been on the job for, what, eight, nine, ten days,” Conway clucked. “The extraordinary accomplishments in just the first week truly are breathtaking.”
At least she got that right.
Indianapolis International Airport, during a protest against President Donald Trump's executive order -Kelly Wilkinson photo / Indianapolis Star via, AP
Full Disclosure: William Thomas was a political refugee from the USA. After joining the USN Reserves to defend his country from the air, he resigned his officer’s commission over the civilian slaughter in Vietnam and was forced to leave the country of his birth. After being granted “amnesty", he retains his dual-citizenship - and his dual-perspective, as well.
See also: Is The Donald Going Quackers?