I had one moment of panic at the March one week ago. The Westboro Baptist Church was in front of us with their usual inflammatory signs and megaphones, this time focused primarily on Islam (kind of weird because you’d think they instead be focused on women being whores, etc., but who am I to dictate their PR strategy?). I had brought my kids, a preschooler and a baby. The older kid and I had been talking about the different signs he had been reading throughout the day. So what was I supposed to say to a Muslim three-year-old about these signs about Islam being evil?
The Marchers around us, not knowing the internal conversation taking place, started chanting “Love trumps hate!” at the top of their lungs, drowning out Westboro’s megaphones. They held their signs up high so that my kids couldn’t see their hateful messages.
If only all of life were that easy, right? If only all the non-Muslim travelers flying into the airports across the U.S. right now could chant “Love trumps hate!” at customs agents, and bam! no Muslim ban!
But no. Muslim non-citizens – including visa holders and legal permanent residents (a.k.a. green card holders) – from seven Muslim countries are being barred from entrance. According to the NY Daily News, “The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee said people who had already landed were being sequestered at airports and told they have to return to their point of origin.”
We don’t know how many people have already been impacted, but this directly impacts “almost 500,000 people from the seven countries have received green cards in the past decade, allowing them to live and work in the United States indefinitely.”
A couple more things.
The Executive Order was issued yesterday, on January 27, which was Holocaust Remembrance Day. The refugees now being turned away from the U.S. will be turned away not unlike the Jewish refugees seeking asylum from Nazis. In case you aren’t familiar with the story of the German ship the St. Louis, I highly recommend reading this piece from Vox. TL;DR version: a ship of 935 refugees coming to the U.S. was turned away miles away from Miami. The ship headed back to Europe, the passengers sent to different countries across the continents, and 254 of the passengers were murdered in concentration camps.
It is hard not to see the issuance of the Executive Order on Holocaust Remembrance Day as a coincidence, especially when the official statement about the day by the White House fails to mention Jews at all. Let’s remember that Steve Bannon, Trump’ Chief Strategist, is widely condemned as an anti-semite with strong ties to white nationalism.
The seven countries picked are countries that do not have the resources to resist. Trump pointed towards San Bernadino and 9/11 as explanations for the necessity of this order, but – if one were to use this as a justification – none of the countries linked to those events are on the list. Maybe because he has business ties? Hard to see that’s not connected. This is just the beginning, folks.
Part of the Executive Order includes a “values test.” We don’t really know what that entails yet. What we do know is that Trump “ordered that Christians and others from minority religions be granted priority over Muslims. As my friend Blake would always say, we’ve seen how these movies end. It’s not pretty.
I am a Muslim. I am the daughter of immigrants. My family is not from the seven countries listed in the order and we are full citizens, but this doesn’t make me any less scared for Muslims here in the United States and abroad. This is sanctioned discrimination, hate, bigotry. This is/will tear families apart, ruin lives, and bring about even more hate crimes.
So now what?
Sara and I started this project because we wanted to give you all discreet tasks that would take no more than five minutes of your time. Creating an action for today, about this, is significantly harder because there is not a clear answer for how we fight back or a fast solution barring rescinding the order as immigration falls under the Executive Branch of our government. With this and more in mind, here is a list of things from which you can choose your action of the day:
- Call your Members of Congress and demand they denounce Trump’s Executive Order. If they have already done so, please thank them and ask what they will be doing next. If they have not, ask why and that you will remember and publicize that they did not stand up on the right side of humanity.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, television and/or radio station(s) about this. It can be for publication, or it can be about their coverage.
- Become a member or donate to a civil rights organizations working on this through direct assistance to those immediately impacted or taking legal actions against the federal government. Some organizations include:
- Donate to or volunteer with an organization providing on-the-ground assistance with refugees, such as:
- Donate to or volunteer with an organization focused on refugee resettlement here in the U.S.
- Reach out to your local mosque. Ask what you can do to help them. Muslims (and those perceived to be Muslims, such as the Sikh community) have been facing hate crimes at greater numbers than even immediately after 9/11. If they don’t offer any ideas for what you can do, ask if they have any public events coming up such as potlucks that you can join (mosques love a potluck). Do you attend another house of worship? Maybe you can have a joint event. Think about ways that you can make it clear to your community that Muslims are a part of it.
- And while the effectiveness of this has yet to be assessed, some folks from the Bernie team created White House Inc. “Enter your phone number and email address to receive a call that will connect you to one of Trump’s properties. You may be asked to make a reservation or a tee-time, but tell management that until Trump steps away from his businesses for real, their property is no different from the Oval Office and you want to talk about the issues that matter most.”
If ever there was a time to rise up and resist, this is it.
Click here for January 29th’s Action and an update on the situation.