I love the bitter-sweet surprises of ironic coincidences. You never know what you’ll get. It can be so refreshing. And yet sometimes so terribly stinky.
Currently, we have the stinky side of an ironic coincidence: Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigrants and travelers from seven countries in the Mideast. The ironic coincidence is that he announced the ban in the same week as the 100th anniversary of the Immigration Act of 1917, the most shameful immigration tactic in our country’s history. Trump’s executive order creating the ban on immigration and travel is less broad in scope; yet, the intended results are similarly draconian in nature. This assessment, of course, depends on your view of all that has happened.
As you may already know, three 9th Circuit Court judges ruled Feb. 9 that Trump’s ban will remain on hold. Never a person to admit he’s wrong, Trump responded with a tweet—“SEE YOU IN COURT“—that indicated he will continue to fight in the judicial system. Hopefully, he won’t do any more name-calling directed at judges.
The 1917 act banned immigrants who are “idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons, epileptic, insane persons…persons of constitutional psychopathic inferiority (that’s the description back then for gays and lesbians)…alcoholics, paupers…”
Well, you get the idea, those considered dregs of 1917 society.
The 1917 law also aimed at keeping out The Yellow Peril: peoples of Southeast Asia, India, the Orient, and Mideastern countries. You know, folks who didn’t look Anglo-Saxon and followed “cult” religions like Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. The Yellow Peril, by the way, was the official term used in those days.
Your views are welcomed. Answer the poll at the end of this post. Send in comments in the “Leave a reply” box.
Here are where similarities occur between the 1917 and 2017 bans:
Fear of people different than yourself. You can easily substitute “Muslim” for the “Yellow” in The Yellow Peril, thus creating The Muslim Peril of 2017 and giving a name to all the fears and discrimination proffered by Trump. Trump has promised that Christians will receive immigration preference over Muslims. The 9th Circuit judges validated criticism that Trump’s ban and his own words discriminate against a religion and Muslims.
Fear that immigrants will take over American jobs. Trump frequently plays upon this fear, just as the supporters of the 1917 law did. The truth is, America needs immigrants to stimulate innovation and economic growth.
Stink lingers. The 1917 ban remained on the books until 1952 when congress passed a law that abolished racial restrictions. Trump boasts on TV that, as president, he has carte blanche authority to decide who enters the U.S. The 9th Circuit judges ruled differently.
Trump’s ban will probably wind its way to the Supreme Court. If he wins, it wouldn’t be a surprise if parts of the ban that are now temporary become permanent. Trump could also ban Mexicans from legally entering the U.S.—until Mexico agrees to pay for Trump’s Southern Wall. There’s never a limit to what a bully thinks he can do.
Here is a four-word bit of advice for Elizabeth Warren, Melissa McCarthy, Meryl Streep, John McCain, Nordstrom employees, Alec Baldwin, the LGTBQ community, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell, CNN’s Jake Tapper, every New York Times and Washington Post reporter, Never Trumpers, the staff of Public Policy Polling that published a Feb. 10 poll showing almost half of Americans favor impeaching Trump, and—jeez, this list is getting long—millions of women who don’t want to be grabbed down there by Trump: Don’t leave the country. Trump doesn’t want you in his kingdom.
A far-flung fear on my part? Sure. But does anyone think Trump wouldn’t if he could ban anyone who speaks unkindly about him or Ivanka?
Fear that we’ll let in demons. The 1917 ban, coming at a time when the U.S. was entering World War I, included people who wanted to overthrow the government. Trump, too, fears letting in terrorists who seek America’s downfall. His fear makes sense.
However, we have yet to hear Trump or any of his minions provide a believable explanation for why vetting protocol can’t be beefed up without the Trump ban in place. His shtick, of course, is that terrorists are “pouring” into America. He provides absolutely no evidence, as the 9th Circuit Court judges pointed out.
If Trump is afraid of letting in terrorists, he should also ban people from the five Mideastern countries where many terrorists originate, including 9/11 terrorists.
Oh, wait, we can’t do that. Trump has personal business operations in those five countries. We have to ask: Is that why those countries are safe from Trump’s ban? Trump and his communicators have yet to adequately answer the question.
I wrote the above paragraph hoping that I am wrong about his intentions regarding those five countries. I believe in the Office of the President of the United States, but when a person sitting behind the Oval Desk stonewalls an important question, it’s tough to be supportive of him—or even to trust him.
The Trump ban, like the Immigration Act of 1917, is fraught with complexity, pitfalls, racism, idealism, veiled terrorism prevention, fear, religious overtones, and dangerous undertows. But, for me, it’s also the ironic coincidence of it all.
Here are positive steps that you can take:
- Click here to learn more about the Immigration Act of 1917 and Trump’s ban.
- Contact your U.S. Representatives and Senators to voice your opinion.
- Stay abreast of news about the Trump ban. Click here.
- Contribute to the ACLU, Amnesty International and other legal organizations that fight for the rule of law.