By Medicine Hat News Opinon on June 30, 2018.
The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the third iteration of President Trump’s travel ban on people from several mostly Muslim countries was facially neutral and that the government had “set forth a sufficient national security justification” for the policy. That’s the threshold the ban needed to meet to pass legal muster. But only an amnesiac would forget the clear animus toward immigrants — with a special nasty focus on Muslims — that Trump exhibited on the campaign trail and that propelled this foolish and counterproductive policy.
One of the first things Trump did after taking office was to act on his campaign statement that he wanted a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the U.S. That position was forged in reaction to international terrorism by Islamic extremists, including the San Bernardino massacre by an American-born Muslim and his Pakistani wife, as well as the then-raging war against Islamic State. And it was based on clear and deplorable perceptions among Trump and his nativist advisors that the actions of the few indict the many. “I think Islam hates us,” Trump said in 2016. “There’s a tremendous hatred there.”
After several court battles sent him back to the drawing board, Trump finally signed the narrowly tailored travel ban that was at issue in Tuesday’s ruling. The administration framed it within a national security context and said the countries from which travellers were banned had failed to share sufficient information for U.S. officials to determine whether potential travellers posed a threat. That ban applied to six predominantly Muslim nations — Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad (which was later removed) — as well as to North Korea and certain government officials from Venezuela.
Significantly, the court held that while most of the countries targeted by Trump’s ban are predominantly Muslim, “that fact alone does not support an inference of religious hostility, given that the policy covers just 8% of the world’s Muslim population and is limited to countries that were previously designated by Congress or prior administrations as posing national security risks.” So the president managed to affix a large enough fig leaf to hide his bias.
As policy, though, the ban is awful. It creates a broad exclusion for entry to the U.S. based on discriminatory misconceptions and punishes entire nations for the misdeeds of a few. And it doesn’t even get the nations right. The countries targeted in the ban are not responsible for the fatal terror attacks that have occurred in recent years. The 9-11 attackers were primarily from Saudi Arabia, and terrorist attacks in Europe over the last few years were committed primarily by Europeans who embraced Islamic extremism. The linkage between terrorist acts and the banned nations is unreasonable, as is this policy.
(This editorial was published June 27 in the Los Angeles Times.)
We can do better than this. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders should not have been asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va.
Apparently the restaurant staff voted to have her tossed because she defended the administration’s policies that they found offensive.
That is her job as press secretary. Just as it was for Josh Earnest under Barack Obama and Dana Perino under George W. Bush. They defended the administration and shaped messaging on a daily basis. To someone new to politics who holds opposing views, it may seem like brash doublespeak or flat-out lying to witness a press secretary in action, but it is business as usual in Washington, D.C.
We should not encourage political newbies to employ bullying tactics based on their anemic understanding of modern politics.
Likewise, we should not encourage the president to use the prestige of his office to denigrate a small business. On June 25, President Trump tweeted, “The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!”
We need a time-out in this country.
(This editorial was published June 26 in the Boston Herald.)
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