If you’ve been paying attention over the past few months, you may see that America is a bit… split. It’s hard to think of a time that our nation has been more polarized, besides maybe the Civil War, and any comparisons to that era are usually not great ones. Part of this is because the two primary sides of American politics, Left and Right, don’t like to actually talk and see each other’s perspectives on the issues.
That’s why Across the Aisle exists. In these articles, two perspectives will be displayed for everyone to see, and hopefully to understand why each side believes what it does about issues. To that end we have two writers, Alexander Pecha and Theodore Stabile, representing the left and the right views on topics, respectively. Keep in mind, though, that neither writer claims to represent the entirety of the left or the right.
To that end, the first topic for Across the Aisle is the controversial executive order issued by Donald Trump halting immigration from certain Middle Eastern countries, often referred to as the “Muslim Ban.”
Alexander Pecha, The Left
The Muslim Ban is probably one of the silliest and most outwardly ignorant things the Trump administration has put into action, and this is coming from an administration that thinks building a wall across our southern border will actually stop illegal immigration.
First of all, let’s examine the idea that this will “protect us” from possible future terrorist attacks.
As I am sure you have heard, since it has been parroted by every major news outlet over the last few weeks, the ban targets countries that have not had any ties with terrorist attacks that have killed American citizens. Yet countries that have had citizens who successfully attacked the United States are not included in the ban, so it’s hard to say that this is a great security measure when it doesn’t include several countries that have citizens that have attacked us.
Ironically, this order may serve as a propaganda tool for ISIS and other terror groups, causing more anti-American sentiment in the Middle East.
However, this kind of thinking is inherently flawed for two primary reasons. One reason is that it makes us dirty cowards. The second is that it shows a huge amount of inhumanity towards our fellow man. These two ideas are closely tied.
If terrorists wanted to scare us, to humble an entire superpower through fear, then by this order we have shown them that they have succeeded.
We are essentially saying that despite the fact that the risk to the average U.S. citizen of a refugee hurting or killing them is lower than getting into a car crash this year, we are going to possibly doom thousands to death because we are too damn scared to show sympathy towards our fellow man.
This order shows the world that we are perfectly fine with telling thousands of innocent people in need of help that it is okay if they die, because we are too scared to act.
Then there’s the fact that this act also affected existing U.S. citizens and people with green cards. Immigrants to this country who helped serve over-seas with our troops as interpreters were left locked in airports while everyone tried to figure out what was going on. The entire order was a mismanaged mess. And I won’t go into how any country that had Trump hotels or businesses was conveniently left out of the order, that’s a whole other kettle of fish.
Overall, if we’re being gracious, we can say the order was a horribly managed and poorly written mess that shows an inherent lack of organization and thinking on the part of the administration. If we’re being less gracious, we can say it’s the Trump administration catering to the lowest common denominator, feeding the fears of his supporters and playing right into the hands of the ignorant.
When this country was founded, it was on a very basic but revolutionary ideal: That “all” men are created equal, and that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are high ideals that have not always been evenly or justly distributed or given, but we have stuck by them.
Sometimes sticking to an ideal means taking a risk, but I would rather take the risk and show the world that we here in America are better than our fear, and that we hold our ideals above all. Anyone can come to America and be an American, and the tests and tribulations they go through to do so are of epic proportions.
Those people should not be denied that opportunity because we are scared. To do so, in my eyes, violates the very idea of the American dream and shows that it doesn’t take much to turn us into the worst hypocrites and cowards.
This order is a direct reflection of our fear and ignorance. I’d rather we rise above that, and remember to see those in need as human and be better than those we fight against. Ideals like these are hard to maintain, but they are what makes this nation so great.
Theodore Stabile, The Right
I am in favor of the immigration halt President Trump has enacted, though calling it a general Muslim ban is a bit of a misnomer.
The “ban” itself is technically more of a moratorium on immigration, as it will only last for 90 days for the countries it has targeted, with the semi-exception of Syria, as Syrian refugees will be indefinitely barred until better vetting and assimilation protocols are put into place.
The ban’s implications do give off the impression it explicitly is targeting Muslims, but it is more so a “general” bar on immigration with case-by-case exceptions handled by the State Department.
An outright ban on Muslims would have to include several more countries and would have had to target countries with much higher majorities of Muslim populations. The countries currently affected by the ban were listed by the prior administration, and countries such as Somalia are notorious for smuggling in copious amounts of terrorists and dangerous individuals with otherwise regular refugees.
These kinds of people, coupled with the mismanagement and unchecked influx of refugee immigration in Europe, are the primary reasons for the economic stagnation affecting refugees relocated in the West as well as the mass crime and racial tension surges that have arisen over the last year.
The fact that Catholic refugees are being granted precedence over other refugees does add credence to the “anti-Muslim” argument, but the persecution and historic oppression of Catholics is unique in the fact that safe zones and other refugee programs will not be as effective on Catholics as it is on Muslims, as they are more vulnerable to persecution outside of the war zone due to being the religious minority. However, this does not delegitimize the carnage and loss other types of refugees have had to endure in and outside the relevant war zones.
On that train of thought, however, Trump’s administration will not be neglecting refugees outright, as Trump has made arrangements with the king of Saudi Arabia to set up safe zones, finally putting their feet to the long overdue fire. This may partially explain why it was not initially included in the list of countries banned, though the document is flexible and could prematurely permit currently banned countries or expand to other countries.
Along with Saudi Arabia, there are plans to establish several safe zones in Syria for refugees. I consider this to be astronomically beneficial, as having safe zones allows not only for refugees to find refuge without having to travel literal continents, it also establishes safe areas in countries that are less likely to induce culture shock by upholding similar customs and code of laws that refugees may be used to.
We will see what new policies are implemented to better filter the truly persecuted from the dangerous, and I do believe that we will learn from Europe’s faulty example if we do take in refugees down the road, on the grounds that they aren’t politically exploited and that safe zones aren’t dismantled, of course.
With Iran’s more aggressive reaction to the ban and misinformation about the immigration halt fueling anti-American rhetoric domestically and abroad, while I still believe this broad, somewhat drastic measure was the right choice, there is a lot of understandable questioning of its viability and potential to render more harm than good on all parties involved.