President Trump evidently believes many things that have no basis in fact. Only a week into his presidency, his make-believe world is colliding with reality – to the detriment and even shame of our country.
There’s no better example than his order temporarily preventing citizens of seven Muslim countries from entering our country. It is an affront to American ideals that has sparked protests here and around the world, embarrassed our friends and handed our Islamist enemies a propaganda windfall.
Trump says the temporary ban is necessary to give the Administration time to set up an “extreme” vetting regime for visitors and immigrants from countries where terrorists operate. But we already have a rigorous system for screening immigrants, and the White House order falls heavily on refugees – many of them fleeing terrorist fanaticism and violence.
Notes Blake Houndshell in Politico, “Since 1990, of the 182 radical Islamic terrorists who plotted attacks in the United States or on inbound airplanes, just two entered the U.S. as refugees. Little wonder-since refugees are among the most carefully vetted immigrant groups, and the bulk of them are women and children.” Oddly, the White House list of proscribed countries includes Iraq, our partner in the fight to destroy the Islamic State’s homicidal “caliphate,” but not Saudi Arabia, where most of the 9/11 attackers came from.
Making life more miserable for refugees won’t make America safer. It’s impossible to listen to the heartrending stories of legal migrants being denied entry, detained and separated from their families without wondering whether the nation’s new political leaders have any idea what they are doing.
The Trump policy – or more likely, the Bannon policy – is unnecessary, cruel and strategically stupid. The word that America is now slamming its doors to Muslims while welcoming Christians is burning up jihadist websites, bolstering their claim to be defending Muslims against U.S. and Western “crusaders.” Our two previous presidents have understood that reinforcing the jihadists’ apocalyptic narrative can only alienate America’s Muslim allies around the world. It’s unsettling that this obvious point eludes Trump’s grasp.
But it’s heartening to see Americans protesting Trump’s order and going to airports to welcome people from Muslim countries. Lawyers have volunteered to help refugees and some judges have issued staying orders.
So is Trump’s policy really America’s policy? That’s for Congress to decide. For Republicans particularly it’s a moment of truth. Will they abet Trump in traducing America’s core values of religious freedom and pluralism? They will if they don’t join Democrats in overriding this odious presidential decree.