On the night of the Super Bowl, Budweiser aired an advertisement that resulted in a boycott by Trump supporters. Why? What could be so objectionable about a patriotic representation of a German immigrant struggling his way to America in order to realise his American dream of brewing what would become one of the nation’s most popular beers? Why boycott Budweiser for representing an historical event? Could it be because this idea of the American immigrant –– albeit a white, presumably Christian male –– is unacceptable in the eyes of many Trump supporters merely because he is an immigrant? But what is the United States of America made up of, then? Is it not a country of immigrants?
A recent trending post on Facebook stated that America is “a nation of massacred natives, black slaves, white supremacist settler colonisers, [and] some immigrants.” If Trump supporters refuse to accept America’s diversity, then it follows that they will also not accept its history of blatant disregard for human rights.
What is President Trump’s ban? And why is it widely decreed as so completely ludicrous?
According to The New York Times, President Trump’s immigration ban bars people from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days. These countries are as follows: Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Syria. Over 100,000 visas for foreigners inside and outside the United States have been revoked, at least for now. Based on data from 2015, The New York Times categorises these banned people as follows: 67,669 visitors and business travellers; 14,135 students; 1,002 temporary workers; and 772 fiancés of US citizens.
Trump supporters immediately flew to his defence when the ban was announced. They predictably invoked terrorism, as is always the case, to justify the ban. The “American Warrior Revolution” page shared a photo of the Boston marathon bombers with the caption “we hate to bring this up, but weren’t the Tsarnaev brothers ‘refugees’? Oh yeah, they were.” The page forgot to mention that the Tsarnaev brothers entered the United States with tourist visas and then applied for political asylum from Kyrgyzstan. They were, additionally, not from one of the seven countries banned by President Trump.
On its Facebook page, the Three Percenter’s Club shared a photo of the Twin Towers burning down with the caption “ask me if I give two shits about the refugee ban!” Yet again, the terrorists who attacked the Twin Towers were from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; neither countries are included in President Trump’s ban.
There are Trump supporters who claim that the Obama administration “blocked all Iraqi refugees from entering the US for six months” in 2011. This, again, is not the case. There was no ban or blocking of Iraqis or visa applicants; new rules were put in place following a direct threat arising from the Kentucky case in which two Iraqi bomb engineers entered the United States. These rules were enacted under pressure from Congress, not from an executive order. The new rules temporarily slowed the processing of Iraqi immigrants, but there was not a single month in 2011 during which an Iraqi was prohibited from entering the country.
It is interesting to note that President Trump has no business ties with any of the seven countries banned, but missing from the list are several wealthier Muslim-majority countries. The Trump Organisation has business interests in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Indonesia. These countries have substantial Muslim populations yet are excluded from the ban. As The Independent writes, for President Trump, it’s “business as usual.”
I am proud to be from New York City, where 1,000 bodega owners (bodegas are small deli groceries), including some that I have known all my life, went on strike on 2 February in opposition to the executive order. I am, however, equally horrified by the events that led to this ban. President Trump was actually voted in through the American democratic process. He is in a position powerful enough to be able to bar people from the United States based solely on their religion. I say religion with intent; the excuse of nationality is as transparent as President Trump’s hastily covered-up racism.
So, what now? We certainly cannot sit around and hope for change. So we fight. We fight for President Trump’s impeachment, we fight for the immigration ban to be demolished, we fight for black lives because they matter, we fight for women’s reproductive rights, we fight for effective police training, and we fight for LGBTQ rights. We who possess white privilege must use it for good and listen to the voices of the marginalised. We should fight together with, not against, them.