Why Trump EO is Still a Racist Muslim Ban

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Whether or not the new Trump Executive Order banning visas for citizens of 6 Muslim-majority countries for a 90 day period and likewise excluding all refugees for six months stands up in the courts, it is still a piece of sordid bigotry.

The rationale for the EO as articulated by Attorney General and notorious racist Jeff Sessions is that the countries affected by the ban are in a state of disarray and so cannot effectively vet their citizens for emigration to the US. Or, he says, the country is a supporter of terrorism. But Iraq, which has been dropped from the list, is the most fragile of fragile states and half of one of its major cities is in the hands of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL). And the fact is that one of the countries on the list, Iran, is America’s best friend in the fight against ISIL in Iraq. So the geopolitics of all this are screwy and inconsistent (i.e. hypocritical).

The way you can tell that the list is generated by prejudice rather than security concerns is that there are plenty of states that are in worse shape than some of the 6 named but which are not Muslim-majority.


For instance, take South Sudan, which is mostly Christian. The US conspired to detach it from Sudan proper, and succeeded in 2011, but then the Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups promptly fell into a civil war with one another. The country is on the verge of mass starvation because of the disruptions of this civil war. Government officials have been accused of corruption by George Clooney’s organization and of being implicated in war crimes. South Sudanese wanting to come to the US could no more be vetted by the “government” than they could be provided with unicorn milk. As for violence and terrorism fears, fighters on both sides of the civil war have committed “killings, rapes and gang rapes, beatings, looting, and harassment, often along ethnic lines.” Any former fighters who tried to come to the US might well be recommended by cronies in the “government,” but they might be war criminals. Why is South Sudan not on the list? Over 60 percent of its citizens are Christian. Another 32 percent practice traditional African religion, and only 6% are Muslim.

I am not arguing for excluding South Sudanese. I am saying that there is no criterion that, if uniformly applied, could account for banning Muslim Somalis but not Christian South Sudanese.


Or take the Central African Republic, 80% Christian, which has seen substantial civil strife and where Muslims are sometimes currently persecuted, in reprisal for an attempted coup by a militant faction in 2013. I wish President Faustin-Archange Touadéra well, but it is highly unlikely that he can efficiently vet emigrants from his country, where there has been a lot of civil violence.

Don’t get me going on the Congo, D.R. Or even down the Fund for Peace fragile state index, places like Nepal or Cambodia.

Again, I don’t think anyone should be excluded. But by Sessions’s stated criteria, there would be more exclusions than 6. And the further countries banned would not be Muslim-majority.

The argument that most Muslims in the world are unaffected by the ban is mere pro-Trump propaganda. If you forbade African-Americans resident in North Carolina from voting, but allowed members of that ethnic group to vote in all the other states, most African-Americans would be unaffected by the ban. But if only African-Americans were denied the franchise in North Carolina, it would still be a racist exclusion.

Besides, we know why Trump and President Bannon are instituting this ban, and it has nothing to do with fragile states or terrorism. The Department of Homeland Security’s own report disputed the need for or efficacy of this 6-nation ban.

Trump, Bannon and Miller are white supremacists and pretty much view Muslims the way Hitler did, as “painted half-apes that ought to feel the whip.”

Trump said during the campaign that he wanted a Muslim ban.

And Rudy Giuliani let the cat out of the bag on live t.v.: “I’ll tell you the whole history of it: When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up, he said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’”

So that’s what this whole thing is, a legally correct piece of racist garbage. It violates the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which forbids discrimination against people on the basis of their nationality. It might stand up in the courts. Slavery stood up in the courts. Jim Crow stood up in the courts. The Chinese Exclusion Act stood up in the courts. The internment of Japanese-Americans stood up in the courts. Court-sanctioned racist bigotry is a big part of American history.

It is shameful, and will cost America in science, medicine, engineering and entrepreneurship, i.e. the fields that contribute to US geopolitical power. It will also cost us incoming tuition dollars and tourism. A 3,000-person conference just switched from Philadelphia to Mexico City to protest the New American Racism. It isn’t so much that immigrants from the 6 countries are crucial for us as that many people will boycott us on the grounds of our racism. And it is hard to argue against them.


Related video:

Al Jazeera English: “Trump signs new immigration order excluding Iraq”

13 Responses

  1. This is Trumps attempt to put lipstick on a pig. He is rewrapping the same lousy policy with less wrapping paper and a smaller ribbon.

  2. Distraction after distraction.
    The elephant in the room that we should focus like a laser on remains the Russian-Campaign relationship if any.

    All of these efforts are just throwing bones to the media to run and chase

    • While Russia is important in that Trump apparently needed those bastards to bail him out of his past business incompetence (having used up everyone else), the immigrant ban is a cornerstone of this regime in the same way that anti-Semitism was the cornerstone of the Third Reich. You could have said in 1934 or 1935 that the myriad forms of petty persecution the Nazis devised were distractions – but 10 years later, you had to admit that they fit into a larger plan that became the regime’s signature.

      In both cases, it is the willingness of the regime’s supporters to embrace these oppressive and (especially because) offensive actions that establishes the new caste order. The Master Race brazenly demonstrates its willingness to defy normal morality – and lie about it in plain sight.

      And for that sense of privilege, the supporters will embrace any crime, including treason of their republic’s interests. They are incapable of loving the republic as a thing they share with others. That is expendable, just as the government is expendable. Blood, and the land that it “conquered”, stands above laws and any rational price. If Putin helped them to re-steal this continent back so they can go back to whipping and lynching anyone they please, damn, that’s worth it.

  3. Another concern – back door methods to excluding Arabs and Muslims from countries not on the official seven-oops-six

    These are not new proposals. This is Cheney 2.0 – just these guys follow the Meir Kahana school of thought – ‘I saw what you only think’

  4. While all of the points in this article are valid and the facts do not support the contentions behind this EO, because it is for a limited duration and exempts green card and visa holders, it just may pass muster with the courts.

    • Yes. The only good thing about this long slog is that the more Trump is seen to have to submit his dictat to the very legal processes his supporters want eradicated, the more frustrated they will become. These are folks obsessed with absolutes, not a long list of caveats.

      So the question is, can these half-measures be clearly regimented into a process of growing oppression that reaches into every area of our lives, as the supporters lust for?

      All that might take is that first act of retaliation that triggers the cycle of escalatory violence the security state requires.

  5. The issue that I have with the article is the the vetting process is not done by local governments; it is done by State Department employees. Trump’s new budget cuts the State Department budget just when it should be beefed up (more so that Homeland Insecurity, ICE) in order to do “extreme” vetting.

  6. Well, at least they took Iraq off the list. After all, what possible reason could there be for any Iraqi to hold a grudge against the United States?

  7. Trump/Sessions/Bannon have this thing about Muslims which I truly don’t understand. They carry on as if it were the end of the world if people of the Muslim faith came into the U.S.A. it is truly beyond me. Canada had 40K Syrian refugees come into Canada last year and we’re all doing fine. No problems.

    What is interesting with all this rhetoric what did the U.S.A. get? 3 men of South Asia descent, were shot, 2 dead and over a 100 threats to Jewish sites. Now it is interesting that no stats are being issued for attacks/threats to Muslims, but could it be the Americans don’t know the difference between people from India or the middle east who are of Arab descent.

    Perhaps all the chatter against Muslims was to start a campaign against Jews. its hard to know, but whatever is going on in the U.S.A. it isn’t good.

    At the rate things are going some of us in Canada expect American citizens to start coming into Canada to apply for refugee status. Oh, they’re welcome to come. Just leave the guns at the border and we’ll give you a health card, yes we do government health care and you can get an abortion or a heart transplant; fix your broken bones,

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