ON DISTANT SHORE
By Val G. Abelgas
Described by the great President Abraham Lincoln as “a nation conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” the United States of America is now being transformed by one man into a nation guided by bigotry and injustice.
In just one week, the image crafted by the country’s fathers and strengthened by 44 presidents before him is being irreparably damaged by a few strokes of the pen by a man who campaigned and marched to the White House on a message of hate and divisiveness.
On his very first day in office, US President Donald Trump started moves to isolate America from the rest of the world, announcing plans to build a $15-billion border wall and insisting neighbor Mexico pay for it. He also started burning bridges across the globe with plans to pull the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that the US had initiated, and to renegotiate the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with neighbors Mexico and Canada.
Earlier, Trump had hinted of plans to pull the US out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which he called “obsolete,” sending shock waves through the country’s European allies.
On Friday, Trump signed an executive order indefinitely suspending the resettlement of Syrian refugees and temporarily banning people from seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the United States. Because the order was made to take effect immediately without clear implementing guidelines, it created chaos in airports all over the US.
US immigration authorities began turning away or detaining travelers whose passports and records showed the remotest ties to the seven countries, including those already with valid travel visas. Even “green card” holders were held for hours or barred from returning to their families.
Outside airports and in other key places, demonstrators from all races and religious denominations marched in protest of the bigoted order. Immediately, five federal judges ordered a stop to parts of the executive action while 15 state attorneys general jointly condemned Trump’s order.
California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in joining the 14 other attorneys general, said: “Justice in America doesn’t live or die on the stroke of one man’s pen regardless of how high his office. The Trump Administration’s anti-religion, anti-refugee executive order is in so many ways unjust and anti-American. It discriminates against human beings based on their faith. It denies entry to those with proven and legitimate fears of death and persecution. It tramples on centuries of American tradition. The Trump executive order should not stand and must be confronted as a constitutional overreach.”
Blinded by his extreme bigotry, Trump has completely ignored the important role of immigrants in the US, seeing them only as terrorists, rapists, and criminals. I doubt if none of his many businesses has Mexican or Muslim immigrants, who in their own way have contributed largely to the success of his business operations.
Even high-tech companies, such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Uber, Netflix and Twitter, which generate billions more of dollars in revenues than his hotels and casinos, acknowledged the important role of immigrants in the growth of their companies and the US. The billionaire CEOs of these companies issued separate statements condemning Trump’s immigration executive actions.
“Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do. I’ve heard from many of you who are deeply concerned about the executive order issued yesterday restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. I share your concerns. It is not a policy we support,” wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook.
For centuries, America has welcomed immigrants from all over the world, “the huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” and with just one stroke of the pen, Trump virtually closed America’s doors to a specific group of people. Lady Liberty must be shaking on her pedestal.
The order says, “The United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles,” and although it did not mention the word Muslim, by imposing the ban on seven countries with Muslim majorities, it clearly targeted Muslims, making it appear that all Muslims are a threat to the country’s security. Ironically, while the order said it was being done to protect the country and its founding principles, discriminating against Muslims and of the nationals of the seven countries run counter to the founding father’s principles of liberty and equality.
And while Trump and his allies justify the immigration action as a step to ensure homeland security, experts are concerned that it could instead pose extreme danger to the country. They said extremist groups can use it as a propaganda tool to boost their claim that America is not just targeting terrorists but is actually declaring war against Islam and Muslims all over the world.
The security experts are concerned that the executive action would make it easier for these groups to recruit or encourage young Muslims angered by Trump’s bigoted action, including those already in the US, to take revenge against America.
Even Trump’s Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned of a ban against Muslims during the campaign, when the then Republican nominee was raising his rhetoric against Muslims. Mattis said: “This kind of thing is causing us great damage right now, and it’s sending shock waves through this international system.”
Trump is sending America to isolation from the rest of the world. In these times when the world has become a global village, America cannot afford what former President Barack Obama described as Trump’s “naked self-interest and zero-sum diplomacy.”