Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Opinion: Trump's iron fist, banging incompetently and irrationally


Boy, we really dodged a bullet on that one, huh?

A female doctor in a residency program at the top-flight Cleveland Clinic. A Syrian human rights activist who has lived here legally for 10 years, and who has three American children waiting for him here at home. A Clemson professor from Iran who has lived here for almost seven years. An Iraqi who had served for years as a U.S. interpreter, risking his life for U.S. forces, held in handcuffs for17 hours and denied entry. Another Iraqi interpreter who had worked for six years alongside U.S. forces, with a special visa for himself, his wife and baby, denied entry. An 18-month old and a newborn, both U.S. citizens, denied entry in Chicago because they hold dual citizenship. In Los Angeles, a legal permanent resident who is just two weeks from the ceremony  that will make her a citizen, accompanied by her 11-month U.S.-born child. The wife of another interpreter, both members of the persecuted Yazidi sect in Iraq, now perhaps permanently separated.

Eleven detained at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, including at least five who are lawful permanent residents. One of the eleven is a 76-year-old woman with glaucoma and a heart condition.

These and others are the highly dangerous terror suspects whom President Trump has attempted to bar from entry into the United States. They have been barred because they are Muslim, and because they were born in one of seven countries listed in an executive order signed by Trump.

No one from any of those seven countries has ever perpetrated an jihadist act in this country. Citizens of six of those seven countries have never perpetrated a jihadist act in this country. There is nothing to suggest that any of those barred as a result of Trump's order have any sympathy with jihadists. No Syrian refugee has ever committed an act of terror here, a testament to the already extensive vetting. And although the executive order cites the attacks of Sept. 11  as its inspiration, none of the four nations whose citizens actually carried out those attacks -- Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and United Arab Emirates -- is listed on the ban.

Nobody at the Department of Justice or Homeland Security or State Department was reportedly consulted on the how, where, who and whats of the executive order, which was drafted under the guidance of Trump aide Steve Bannon. Not even the White House Office of Legal Counsel was consulted. The only documented outside advice came from Rudy Giuliani, who says Trump called him to ask how a ban on Muslim entry could be carried out legally.

The reason that Bannon and his little cabal refused to consult with experts is because the experts would have told him how useless and provocative and even dangerous the move would be, and they didn't want to hear that. At the Pentagon, for example, they're highly concerned about the impact on U.S forces in Muslim countries.  If you're an Iraqi, Syrian or Afghani interpreter putting your life on the line right now on behalf of American forces, hoping it might be a ticket out of there, what do you think your attitude is today? If you're a young man wondering whether it's true that America is engaged in a war against Islam, what are your thoughts after this?

Under the order, Christians from those nations would be given special exemptions, while Muslims would not. In short, the federal government will now treat you differently depending on which religious faith that you follow. According to the executive order, they are trying to weed out those who would engage in "acts of bigotry" in this country,  but by using a person's religion as the prime evidence against him or her, the order is itself an act of blatant bigotry.

In the photograph above, Vice President Mike Pence stands to Trump's side as he signs the executive order. Here's what that same Pence had to say about the idea a little more than a year ago:

House Speaker Paul Ryan was, at one point, a vocal opponent of such a step.

Now, Ryan also supports the concept. When you strongly condemn a proposal on moral and constitutional grounds, then fall into support when that proposal is actually acted upon, you have shown yourself to be a coward and a hypocrite.

And just in case you missed it, because that's easy to do, a senior Chinese military official now says openly that war against the United States is "a practical reality." Officials in Mexico are warning that if they're going to be treated as enemies then they might have to act that way. And our new president has removed the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence as regular members of the National Security Council, to be replaced by Bannon.

And this is Day Nine.

 


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.