The U.S. Supreme Court is finally set to hear arguments on President Donald J. Trump’s executive order temporarily halting travel from six countries in the Mideast and Africa. According to the Left, the order is a “Muslim ban,” since the majority populations of each of these six countries pray toward Mecca. To the president and his supporters, the moratorium has nothing to do with religion but rather protecting Americans from terrorism.
Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt another blow to the Trump Administration with its ruling that the President overstepped his constitutional mandate by crafting a ban that had a disproportionate impact on Muslims seeking entry into the United States. Of course, the case will eventually be decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, which is waiting for a similar case in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to be resolved. Given the way that the Trump Administration has looked to the Supreme Court on this matter, and the fact that a fellow Rightist, like Neil Gorsuch, sits upon the bench, it seems likely that the Supreme Court will be allowed to have the final say on the constitutionality of the proposed “travel ban.”
Yet, neither side is being particularly honest in the debate. As both sides continue yelling past one another, the courts procrastinate, and the United States is left vulnerable.
Let’s be clear: the Left is correct in stating that the order is about Islam. Yet, the Right is also accurate in declaring that this proposed moratorium is about protecting Americans. The Trump Administration can repeat the fact that its proposed moratorium is nothing more than a rehash of what the Obama Administration did in 2014 until it’s blue in the face. But, that bromide won’t satisfy the militant Left that is feeling galvanized in the wake of the endless stream of fabricated political scandals surrounding Trump. The Left believes that Trump is Richard Nixon redux and that it’s only a matter of time before the 45th president is driven from office in disgrace. They will not be deterred by reason or facts.
align=”left” Yet, neither side is being particularly honest in the debate. As both sides continue yelling past one another, the courts procrastinate, and the United States is left vulnerable.
So, if this executive order is about Islam, as well as about protecting Americans, what can be done? First, acknowledge that this is not about discriminating against Muslims on the basis of religion. The true enemy that America is currently defending itself against is not a religion so much as it is a militant political ideology that has unfortunate roots within certain strains of Islam: jihadism. Therefore, Islam does play a role, but it is radical, political Islam (of both the Sunni and Shiite variants) that threatens the United States, not the religion as a whole.
The suspicion surrounding Islam is incidental to its religious aspects, not essential. In other words, their beliefs about who God is and how to pray are of no concern to us. In fact, some academics, such as Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz of the Institute of World Politics, prefer to call jihadists “Caliphatists,” since their aims are more political than anything else. It is the political teachings of some elements of Islam that appear to be at odds with―and a threat to―our way of life, in the same way, for example, that Communism was (and is).
Second, the moratorium targets six specific countries in the Mideast and Africa. The administration is right to point out that neither the most populous Muslim country in the world, Indonesia, nor the most populous Arab state in the world, Egypt, are included in the order. This is no blanket ban on Islam.
Why? Because both are allied countries committed to resisting jihadism! Despite initial reports, Iraq ended up being taken off of the list of banned countries, because it is still technically an ally, and America has many friends among the Iraqi population seeking to flee the chaos there.
Also, Saudi Arabia, the point of origin for 15 of the 9/11 hijackers, has been left off the list. The reason for this, again, has to do with geopolitics: even though it is indisputable that large numbers of Saudis are sympathetic to jihadism, the Saudi government is most assuredly opposed to jihadism. Further, as the lead Arab and Sunni state, Saudi Arabia is heading the effort to put Iran back in its proverbial box—a critical geostrategic objective for American foreign policy in the Mideast.
align=”right” After all, while I believe it is unfair to claim that Islam is inherently evil (it’s not), it is most certainly true that America’s jihadist foes today are inspired by—and live according to—the strictest interpretations of Islam imaginable. They also hail from mostly Muslim countries. By not heeding these facts, as outlined by Gorka in his book―by continuing to insist that the executive order “doesn’t have anything to do with Islam”―the Trump Administration misses the point as badly as the Obama Administration did.
Understanding the distinction between Islam and jihadism is essential for American counterterrorism policy going forward. The Trump national security team should make its counterterrorism policy hew much closer to Sebastian Gorka’s New York Times bestselling book, Defeating Jihad than it already has. If the administration did this, they would understand the distinction and move with alacrity in implementing the travel ban.
After all, while I believe it is unfair to claim that Islam is inherently evil (it’s not), it is most certainly true that America’s jihadist foes today are inspired by—and live according to—the strictest interpretations of Islam imaginable. They also hail from mostly Muslim countries. By not heeding these facts, as outlined by Gorka in his book―by continuing to insist that the executive order “doesn’t have anything to do with Islam”―the Trump Administration misses the point as badly as the Obama Administration did.
While it is almost trite to say that the jihadist violence the world has been subjected to for the last 16 years is the result of an internal struggle for control within Islam, it is true! This is a truth that has yet to be acknowledged in the form of actionable policy. Recognizing this fact (not just repeating it to sound smart on MSNBC or at a Georgetown dinner party) is essential. The threat will not go away if we ignore it. Jihadism will not be cowed into submission with “openness and love,” as so many frivolous Leftists, from Katy Perry to former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, recommend. Neither will its historical animus toward the West be ameliorated by the smooth melodies of James Taylor.
The Trump Administration should embrace the fact that this is a travel ban based on a particular interpretation of Islam. The United States is doing this not because it is Islamophobic (we have 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States today and that number is projected to double by 2050, after all). The President supports the ban because it’s a reasonable response in the face of a growing threat from a specific region. Restricting travel from places like Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Syria is based on real national security concerns.
Geopolitics also plays into this. Iran is America’s greatest state challenger in the Mideast. Yemen is now home to the worst civil war in the world today (fueled by the proxy conflict between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia). Somalia has been a source of jihadist terror since the early 1990s. Sudan is led by an Islamist government that deals with Iran. Libya has been consumed by jihadist terror. And, of course, Syria is the central theater in the war against ISIS. What do all of these countries have in common? J-I-H-A-D-I-S-T-S!
President Trump’s greatest strength during the 2016 presidential election was his uncanny ability to speak truth to power in 140 characters or less. He should continue. The president was right to tweet that this was a “TRAVEL BAN.” He should now make this case to the public every day. A majority of Americans—including Muslims—will understand what he’s saying: this isn’t Islamophobia. It’s counter-jihad. It’s not racist, either. If the proposed moratorium were either of those things it would ban travel to and from all Muslim states, irrespective of their relationship with the United States.
align=”left” President Trump’s greatest strength during the 2016 presidential election was his uncanny ability to speak truth to power in 140 characters or less. He should continue. The president was right to tweet that this was a “TRAVEL BAN.” He should now make this case to the public every day.
The ban will undoubtedly impact many innocent Muslims traveling from these six countries to the United States. That is truly sad, tragic, even in some cases. Unfortunately for them, we are in a war. It is important to note that the Secretary of Homeland Security has virtually limitless discretion to determine which foreign travelers deserve exemptions to the ban. Given that President Trump has a history—both in his business and now political careers—of deferring to his subordinates on day-to-day operations of the organizations that he leads, it is totally unreasonable to believe that all Muslims―even from these countries―will be barred from traveling to the United States.
Lastly, the president does have broad authority to determine who comes into the country. Congress could back him up with critical legislation also. Alas, moral courage is in short supply these days on the Hill.
In 1924, Calvin Coolidge signed the Immigration Act. The law was aimed at slowing the spread of communism (and anarchism) into the United States from Eastern and Southern Europe which, at that time, was as threatening to the United States as jihadism is today. The law set up a quota system, limiting immigration to two percent of any nation’s residents already in the United States population as of 1890. Countries get to set the terms of their own immigration policy! Such policies should be tethered to the needs of the country, not to the desires of a utopian elite.
Scores of exemptions were made to the so-called “two percent rule,” based on education and financial status, meaning that America still took in immigrants during this period, but it was a highly selective process.
Switzerland, the country so many Europhiles on the American Left revere today, is even more harsh than America ever was when it comes to restrictive immigration policy. Indeed, today, Switzerland is raising barriers to immigration from neighboring EU countries. Of course, the outrage from the Left over Switzerland’s restrictive immigration practices has been muted, as they prefer to tout Switzerland as a model social democracy to be emulated here in the United States.
The Left is correct to concern itself with the potential of government abuse vis-à-vis President Trump’s proposed travel ban on the six Muslim states in question (a shocking turn of events, given how much the Left usually loves government action). That is why a fair waiver system through the Department of Homeland Security is essential. But this is not the 1920s, and American society today is far less tolerant of policies that even suggest a hint of racial motives. Innocent people will have a chance to appeal for entry into the United States from those six Muslim countries, based on their circumstances. But, the President has a constitutional and legal right to establish immigration policy aimed at protecting the national interest.
align=”left” President Trump should also keep in mind that, ultimately, he does not need to respect the will of the courts on this matter. If necessary, he should implement his vital policy on national security grounds. After all, Obama did it to Iraq in 2014. Jihadism is a transnational threat that targets innocents in our country (and elsewhere).
Everyone should wake up to the fact that the United States has been engaged in an existential war with radicalized elements of Islam. These jihadists (or “Caliphatists”) will use any means at their disposal to subvert and destroy our country from within. Their goal is to inflict maximum casualties so that Americans stop resisting the jihadists’ goals of re-establishing an Islamic caliphate in the Mideast (and they wouldn’t mind seeing one here, either). The proposed travel ban is defensive in nature. It’s a proportional and reasonable policy as well.
President Trump should also keep in mind that, ultimately, he does not need to respect the will of the courts on this matter. If necessary, he should implement his vital policy on national security grounds. After all, Obama did it to Iraq in 2014. Jihadism is a transnational threat that targets innocents in our country (and elsewhere). We should not make it easy for the jihadists to do their dastardly deeds in our backyard. Although, with the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, it appears as the High Court is likely to rule in the president’s favor (even if Justice Ginsburg refuses to recuse herself).
The travel ban is not about Islam. It’s about countering jihad. And a travel ban of the most dangerous countries where jihadism reigns is a legitimate way of countering jihad.
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