The Sadism of Racist Exclusion: Courts Temporarily Block Trump

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Picking on immigrants and refugees is the act of a sadistic bully, since they are the one fairly large group of residents of the United States whose constitutional rights are disputed. The executive order Trump signed late on Friday suspending entrance to the United States for citizens of seven countries and cancelling the US refugee program for four months is probably illegal. The 1965 immigration law forbids discriminating against immigrants on the basis of nationality. But the courts are often deferential to presidential prerogatives on foreign policy, and in principle the designation of certain countries as security problems requiring extra care in the issuance of visas is probably within the purview of the White House.

The political goal of the order was to whip up anti-Muslim hatred. No immigrant from any of the seven countries Trump named has been guilty of terrorism on US soil in this century. Trump said he wanted to prioritize Christian immigration and refugee resettlement from e.g. Syria, implying that the decks have been stacked in favor of Muslims. Giving persons of a particular faith precedence in immigration is unconstitutional. This measure was his Orwellian two minutes hate against Muslims and immigrants. In an incident that may or may not be related, a mosque was burned down in Texas on Saturday.

A recent study of psychopaths, narcissists and sadists found that of the three personality types, “Only sadists increased the intensity of their attack once they realized the person would not fight back . . .” Even psychopaths and narcissists weren’t eager to pounce that way.

Iran immediately retaliated by banning US citizens from going to that country. Given that Iran has a GDP the size of Poland and is now open for business, Trump just cost US companies billions and billions of dollars inasmuch as European, Russian and Chinese firms will now get Iran’s new business. You even have to worry about the follow-through on already-concluded deals. Even the Iraqi legislature began debating whether to exclude Americans, including contractors.

One thing Trump did not count on was that there would be a spontaneous movement against the arrests of immigrants at JFK and other airports across the country, with some 2,000 flooding into JFK.

The executive orders signed this past week by Trump appear in the main to have been drafted by alt-Neo-Nazi Steve Bannon, the Rasputin of this administration. They were not passed by the departments they affected. In another in a series of coups, Trump on Saturday kicked the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff off of the principals committee of the National Security Council. They will attend only when their expertise is required. He then appointed Bannon to that key body, which advises the president on national security issues. Knowledgeable intelligence and military leaders will therefore often not be in a position to contradict Bannon on the NSC, giving him enormous unchecked and unelected power (NSC staffers also don’t have to be confirmed by the Senate). NSC staffers have been known to ask the CIA to do illegal things like go after Americans on American soil, and I think we may expect a lot of that sort of thing in this administration. Bannon is the CEO of the far right extremist purveyor of fake news, Breitbart, today’s equivalent of the Völkischer Beobachter, the newspaper of the national socialist workers party in 1930s Germany.

The way Bannon crafted the executive order on immigrants that the pliant Trump eagerly signed was guaranteed to be a disaster. It would have been easy enough to say that the provisions would come into effect one month hence. Instead, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was instructed to apply its provisions immediately. This step caused some over 100 passengers to be arrested on arrival and put in holding cells at the airport on Saturday, even though they had a valid visa or green card (permanent residency). Thousands of persons with valid visas or green cards (permanent residency, the last step before citizenship) who happened to be abroad on Friday were effectively locked out of the country. These included nearly 200 Google employees caught abroad on Saturday, whom the company was trying to get back into the country.

One of the first to be arrested, at JFK, was Hameed Khalid Darweesh, an Iraqi who had served as an interpreter for the US army in Iraq. Despite Darweesh’s own patience with it all, that he was one of the first to be arrested gave the Trump-Bannon piece of fascism a further black eye. Darweesh’s vital work put his own life in profound danger and he helped avoid casualties among our troops. For him to be humiliated and handcuffed and reduced to tears spoke volumes about the true nature of the executive order.

CNN: “Detained Iraqi released from JFK airport”

Trump and Bannon intended this outcome. They intended that immigrants should be treated arbitrarily and made abject. They wish to treat all Americans this way, and are just using Muslim-Americans for target practice. That is why they hate the press so much, since they know it shines a spotlight on their violation of people’s constitutional rights. Typical bullies, they are starting with the weakest residents in the country. Their victims included grandmothers who finally had the opportunity to come see relatives in America. And then they were clapped in jail on arrival.

This outcome was clearly contrary to the rule of law, since the individuals arrested had not committed any crime but rather had acted in good faith and had valid travel documents. The ACLU (give money!) swung into action and got a Federal judge in Brooklyn to hear an appeal against the detentions and the prospect that the detainees would be deported. US District Judge Ann Donnelly found that those arrested had a good chance of being vindicated if they could go before a court, and therefore must not be deported. Her ruling affected the entire country. In its aftermath, many of the 200 persons detained across the country appear to have been released.

The saga is not over, and opportunities for further Trump/ Bannon sadism– breaking up families, stranding people doing nothing wrong, exposing individuals to isolation or big travel costs are all still to come. That is what sadism and fascism is all about.

33 Responses

  1. Admitting only Christian will only cause a spike in application faith conversion.

    If forbid there is a next terrorist attack on American soil, and if the terrorist (who will die on discovery) turns out to be our first ‘foreign born’ terrorist…then you will know how we have been played.

    Words have outcomes. Trump’s words and showy executive signings do have a multiple interpretation on the final outcome when applied. Today immigration, tomorrow a cop on black in a city such as St Louis Ferguson, and we will then have an escalation into chaos. Even now, one has to wonder what plans are, or have been drawn up for execution in Chicago.

    I suddenly feel the hysteria volume is being turned up in America, and the world is watching, and that is where the empire, and all of the dollar hegemony may end. If we Americans once believed how we lead by example, well what kind of example are we giving the world now?

    • I agree but I don’t think the situation you identify in your last paragraph would be significantly different without Trump. He may reasonably be regarded as a symptom rather than a cause. A deep conflict of interests has come to divide the people from their leaders. It may have started with Vietnam; like a space launch if you are less than one degree off here you can miss a planet over there without correction.

      • Nicholas Wibberley, you bring up a good point, as you always do. I guess I’m thinking of the foreigner who may have been sitting on the fence. Worst would be the embarrassed foreign person who tries to defend American values, when debating his fellow country people. Although, you are right America has kind of made it’s bed, and now America has a hard time sleeping in it…oh if only our media told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. As there I digress…thanks for your input.

  2. The ruling by Judge Donnelly in New York is just likely just Round One against Trump in the ongoing attempts by the American Civil Liberties Union to vindicate the constitutional rights of Arabic-speaking individuals and Muslims which have been under attack all through the Bush and Obama administrations since 9/11.

    One question will be whether any of the detainees will be filing federal civil rights monetary damage lawsuits against the federal officials authorizing the detention. In the Shoshana Hebshi case in Detroit, the ACLU secured a $40,000.00 settlement against the U.S. government in U.S. District Court after she was arrested due to her proximity on airliner to Asian men using the rest room on a flight for too long a period.

    The exposure of the federal government to potentially large civil rights damage liability during these questionable detentions should discourage this unconstitutional conduct from being perpetrated on an ongoing basis.

    • Trump is notorious for refusing to pay his bills and then grinding it all out in court as a routine business operation. Or I should say “famous”, since despite all the denials among his followers, they could hardly be unaware of this behavior. They want a leader who will cheat everyone they think has cheated them.

      • In the Hebshi case, the Department of Justice DID grind out the case, losing two motions to dismiss and only paying out a settlement after it was clear that they would have to face a federal court jury.

        The judge was former U.S. Attorney for Detroit Stephen J. Murphy.

  3. As a Brit, I’m wary of finding fault with the US Constitution (the backlash from offended Americans can be ferocious). But the sight of a US President, elected by an undemocratic holdover from the days of slavery, ruling by decree like some tinpot third-world dictator, indicates the need for some serious reform.

    • The concept of “executive orders” have been a clever mechanism for presidential staffers to circumvent the Presentment Clause requirement of the U.S. Constitution that all federal law be submitted to Congress for approval before implementation.

      The National Security Agency – currently the largest intelligence-gathering organization in the free world – was created by an obscure executive order of President Truman without any input of U.S. Congress.

      U.S. direct military involvement in the Vietnam War was authorized by executive order of President Johnson without Congressional action. When Congress passed the War Powers Act in 1973 as a limiting response to the presidential arrogance in military deployments, all subsequent presidents ignored that statute as they took the position that the WPA was unconstitutional and the U.S. Supreme Court never addressed the issue.

      The Steel Seizure Case, when Harry Truman ordered the federal government takeover of steel mills, was one of the few times the Supreme Court struck down a president for unconstitutional overreaching in violation of the doctrine of separation of powers.

      During the Obama administration, the president took the unprecedented step of actually personally approving extrajudicial killing of individuals during drone strikes and Obama did not appear to especially concerned that innocent bystanders -including children – were dying as “collateral damage”; Obama’s Justice Department successfully argued to a federal court that such targeted killing strikes were a “political question” that the courts should steer clear of. Obama’s enthusiasm as the man whose hand was on the “joy stick” for drone strikes waned when he was forced to address the nation while visibly upset to announce that Dr. Warren Weinstein and a second al-Qaeda hostage were inadvertently killed by a missile fired in Afghanistan by a U.S. drone during a CIA “signature strike”.

      Concepts such as presidentially-authorized extrajudicial drone killings and “extraordinary rendition” have a legally tenuous basis and are under severe critical attack by international organizations such as Amnesty International.

  4. These are the kind of times when the lines normally drawn between patriots and murderers blur, become entangled and move uncontrollably.

  5. I am puzzled by your opening statement. Nowhere in our constitution do I find the statement “this document is for US citizens only”. Yes, foreigners, including immigrants, can be removed from the country. However, when a person is either on US soil or in the custody of a US agency including our armed forces that person is protected by our constitution.
    Around 1800 our country badly needed immigrants. The framers of the constitution understood that potential immigrants living in European nations under harsh and arbitrary governments would be more prone to come if the word spread around: “in America there is religious freedom and that government cannot arbitrarily throw you in jail”. I am not joking. I firmly believe that this was one of the reasons why this document was so liberal/libertarian for its time. Here are a few of the European rulers Prussia: Friedrich Wilhelm III. Russia: Paul I. No enlightenment there.

    • I know this and you know this. But GOP politicians have often claimed that the constitution does not protect non-citizens and the law is not settled on the issue.

      • Trump really needs to borrow Mr. Khan’s Constitution, since he obviously has never read the document before. For those who haven’t checked lately, the Bill of Rights only uses the term person or people, never citizen when enumerating civil rights. In the body of the main Constitution, almost the only time the word citizen is used is when specifying the qualifications for office. Then it appears again in the 14th and 15th Amendments in extending citizenship. I think that instead of calling it the Trump Administration we should call it the Trump Abomination.

  6. The best thing we can all do right now is what Juan said, contribute what you can to the ACLU and other political organizations that can fight against this.

    We are all Muslims now.

  7. Bannon and Trump are trying out a governing strategy rather new to the US: rule by decree. It’s clear that the President can issue illegal (even unconstitutional) orders and get action on them well before any legal or legislative machinery clanks into semi-effective reaction.

    Now we have Bannon disconnecting the military and intelligence services from the NSC, on which he has installed himself through the addled and complaisant Trump.

    Ryan and McConnell stand between us and outright autocracy. Any bets on what happens next?

    • It was obvious over a year ago that Trump intended to rule by decree. He didn’t campaign for fellow Republicans in Congress, he didn’t do anything to help the GOP, he created his own parallel cult organization. He showed zero understanding of how Congress, the Supreme Court and the Constitution function. He made endless promises to enact what the Executive may only propose to Congress.

      This clearly did not hurt him. What’s new is the elevation of Steve Bannon to direct this new form of rule.

    • Q-Ryan and McConnell stand between us and outright autocracy. Any bets on what happens next?
      A- Like all our Congressional COWARDS, they drop their drawers and assume the position.

  8. Trump and his minions didn’t even have the decency to create a transition period for his mad decree. People who were merely transiting through the United States on to other nations have been sent back to the airport of origin and must come up with money for a new ticket in order to get back home.

    A man as wealthy as Trump probably can’t even imagine what is required of an ordinary person on a limited income who purchases a $2000.00 plane ticket. That person may have worked for two years, putting aside $100.00 a month into savings, before he or she could purchase a ticket. And what happens if that person is returned, not to the place that they just left (as in the case of the Iraqi man who had flown from Stockholm, Sweden where he had been in a refugee center), but back to a country where they haven’t been for years? What happens if that person has no credit card and only a few hundred dollars in a bank account? Now, he or she must find work in a nation that is hostile or offering no opportunities and must save all over again.

    All because Trump is so rash that he didn’t even create a grace period to implement his radical decree—he wanted it to happen immediately because all he thinks about is his petty self and how he wants the personal satisfaction of seeing his word made law. What a callous bastard.

    • According to what I heard on the news earlier this morning, Customs wasn’t even forewarned and had no advance word that this was coming and were caught unprepared, too. And, they have initially continued with detentions even after a Federal judge put a stay on that. This is may be without precedence in US history, to initiate such a far reaching order without any preparations or thought to the consequences. The Palmer Raids and Japanese internment were done with more forethought and preparation.

    • I expect it was intended as a “disruptive” move. Remember, Trump doesn’t think of anything other than his base – and the far right (and many Republicans) think this is how the US should be acting. One wonders how long it will take Trump to realize that it’s not only his base that is reacting to his words and his actions.

  9. Let’s not forget that many, if not most, of these refugees are among the several disastrous consequences of American promotion of wars and regime changes. In addition to the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, so-called immigrants from Central America should also be considered refugees.


    In this day and age, it has become quite urgent for the Muslims, especially the Western Muslims, to act with patience perseverance, as well as to remain peaceful.

    Their focus must be self-purification and an effort to reflect the higher self, whose qualities include selflessness, generosity, love, peace, justice, humility, not doing unto others what one doesn’t want done unto one, turning the other cheek, serving others with no expectations, forgiveness, lack of lust for power and control, etc., etc.

    Charity begins at home. And one’s heart is one’s ‘home’.

    So we need to focus on that in these difficult circumstances.

    Return badness with goodness.

    Return injustice with justice.

    Return hatred with love and peace and forgiveness.

    Return arrogance and self-pride with humility and generosity.

    All efforts and activism must be encompassed within these qualities of the higher self.

    Etc. Etc.

  11. Is it because he enjoys being arbitrary, or is it because his followers feed on the cruelty unleashed by this haste? If it’s the latter, then the message is being sent out over the land: you too can participate in sadistic patriotism. To policemen, state legislatures, ordinary bullies.

  12. It has occurred to me that “compassion” and a sense of “shame” are totally lacking in Trump’s character. I hope those arrayed against him bear that in mind as they plan and act against him.

  13. So the right is stating that Obama had ban on Iraqis coming to the U.S. in 2011 for six months. From what I could find, it was related to the shooting in KY by two Iraqi immigrants. They took the time to further vet and tighten immigration for those coming from Iraq. I think this is also why Bannon and Trump think they are on safe ground. They are already out there saying its simply a continuation of what Obama started.

    • Yes, that is what I said in my opening paragraph, that the courts could well recognize these measures. However, halting immigration from one country for 6 months is different from halting immigration from 7 countries and openly stating (Giuliani) that it was an attempt to find a way to institute a ban on Muslims, and then saying Christians will be privileged. I think the ACLU has some chance here.

      • Also, let’s never forget how in 2011, the Norwegian white supremacist neo-nazi terrorist Anders Breivik slaughtered 77 innocent people, or how in 2015, American white supremacist Dylan Roof murdered 9 African Americans in a Charleston church, and now, just last night, 6 Muslims were massacred in a mosque in Ontario.

        The fact that white, right wing Norwegians or Canadians aren’t being targeted for “extreme vetting,” or that white, neo-nazi American men are slated for expulsion tells you all you need to know about the nature of Trump and his fascist administration.

        Over the past 10 yrs, the % of Americans murdered by Islamic extremists vs US-born, male, white supremacists is about the same…

  14. You should suggest that all right thinking women start wearing hijabs following the lead of the Danes in WWII who courageously wore Star of David emblems in the face of Nazi Jewish roundups.

  15. This is sadism tout court and/or an act in preparation for war (you do not do what Trump is presently doing without giving the least prior notice unless you are making a declaration of open and direct hostilities and/or are engaging in the most denuded demagogy). As I at length commented here during the primaries Trump evinces extremely strong sadistic tendencies; this is likely a personal preference and appetite on his part, but it also functions as a demagogic whetting or instruction in psycho-political sadism (inherent in oligarchic fascism), i.e. in the promotion, legitimization, intensification, and popularization of tendencies equivalent to sadism and Sadean personality traits in preparation for an initiation of open hostilities (though, at least initially, short of outright war) against significant nations and economic blocs of the world (Mexico, Middle East, China, EU) and against important, yet ostensibly foreign-like, demographic sectors within the U.S.: African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, Native Americans, even the “unreliable” majority of women concerned with equitable reproductive health access, etc). Nationally, the logic of such political sadism is in perfect complementarity with the international version: generalize the most divisive ethos short of actual militarized action through full spectrum use of media in the service of an oligarchy that feels itself receding from relative power in a world ever more immersed in freely globalized trade vis-a-vis (to reiterate) the relative detriment of American hegemonic political and economic power. Trump, standard bearer for an oligarchy opportunistically directly stepping “forward to the plate,” promises millions of industrial sector jobs in a newly, at least industrially, autarkic U.S. Maybe he will deliver in the mid to long term on this promise, in the immediate to short term his “achievements” will be essentially denagatory , denialist, negative: civic/humanitarian prohibitions, restrictions, dis-protections in the name of greater national security and policial exigencies, per oligarchic rationalizing protocol, best that the populace become even more inured and hardened to such civic and societal (oligarchically optative) harshness by being imbued in the “modelic” sadism of a personally autarkic -hyper-capitalist cult leader example, a Chairmen Mao redivivus of capitalist autarky (whose vision is to export, impose, and disseminate the same throughout the world and have the U.S. be the isolationist leader of an isolationized world).

  16. The Giuliani interview shows that the EO was framed with the intent of being a Muslim ban. Giuliani should be called to testify to this under oath in any proceeding challenging the constitutionality of the EO. The intent of the EO, plus the fact that the persons affected have already been vetted and approved for admission, and the fact that the EO was intended to include not only non-citizen valid visa holders, but also lawful permanent residents, and even naturalized citizens, demonstrate that the claim that the order targets “radical Islamic terrorists” is false. The violations of the constitution and law here are numerous. Off hand, one could mention equal protection, due process, establishment of religion, etc. Trump, Giuliani, and the others on the committee conspired to violate the constitution and US law. Trump has violated his oath to uphold the constitution and should be impeached. I hope the ACLU and other interested parties take due note of this fact.

  17. Trumps removal of Chiefs of War and Survellience from the NSC is strictly an internal political messaging exercise. Trump has actually just cancelled, indefinitely, any scheduled, routine access these Chiefs had to POTUS. “Don’t call me, I’ll call you…maybe”…Can’t say as I’m crying crocodile tears for the Public personae of the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). So early to set the stage for “coups” at the highest levels. Shows Trump and Brannon have hubris of no bounds and brains of no content. Can we stand an Act II?

  18. Here is sadism by campaign promise, fulfilled – 45 fulfills another odious campaign promise where he would order the killing of the families of terrorists.

    link to

    Islamophobes of America – Rejoice. In the recent U.S.Commando attack in Yemen approved by 45, his first, which cost the life of one U.S. Commando also caused significant civilian carnage. U.S. officials denied any civilian casualties, but medics on the scene reported 10 women and little children were slaughtered in the operation.

    link to

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