Syrians and other refugees will display gratitude to America for extracting them from their hopeless situation, thus creating more loyal Americans.
George W. Bush will almost certainly be remembered as one of our most flawed presidents, the architect of a disastrous war that is arguably the foremost foreign policy blunder in the country’s history.
However, before that, the 43rd president was careful, after the most devastating attack on American soil, to remind Americans and reassure Muslims that the two are not enemies.
"The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war." - Six days after 9/11.
"The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them." - Ten days after 9/11.
Bush continued in that vein, repeatedly, not only because he clearly believed what he was saying, but because he understood that a war with Islam itself could only invite further disaster. This when 9/11 was fresh in the American psyche, when he could have led us down an even darker path than the one that would lead is into the vortex that was (and still is) the Iraq War.
Contrast the Bush worldview with that of the current president. Donald Trump attacked the parents of an American Muslim soldier who died fighting overseas because they hurt his feelings, which is all one really needs to know to evaluate his childish approach to the world. He praised Saddam Hussein. Trump doesn’t even come close to possessing the wisdom and sophistication of George W. Bush, of all presidents, someone who exists in the culture as a buffoon whose weakness and ineptitude allowed Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to lead us into hell.
Trump’s election and subsequent Muslim ban demonstrates that the man who knew nothing about the world during his belligerent and nihilistic campaign has learned nothing since. If you disagree that this is a Muslim ban, consider this language from the president’s own website: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.”
What is going on is that the seven countries whose citizens are now banned from entering the U.S. have never attacked us. Refugees from Syria, desperate to escape a bloodthirsty dictator on one side and ISIS on the other, have never attacked us.
Not that a future attack is impossible - and maybe more likely than it ever has been, considering the hatred that this administration has displayed toward those powerless people - but those who are desperate to escape war-torn countries are unlikely to attack those who save their lives. This seems obvious, but bigotry is often more powerful than logic.
It’s more likely that Syrians and other refugees will display gratitude to America for extracting them from their hopeless situation, thus creating more loyal Americans. It never hurts to have too many of those.
Besides, ISIS has shown that its preferred method of unleashing destruction is not to wade through our two-to-three year vetting process (the strictest in the world), posing as refugees, in order to launch attacks in the United States. Rather, they have chosen, in the interest of expedience, to influence Americans to commit terrorist attacks on U.S. soil via the internet. That’s how the Boston Marathon bombers and the architect of the Pulse massacre were radicalized.
One could logically argue that it would, therefore, make much more sense to shut down the internet in order to effectively battle ISIS, though of course banning refugees and shutting down the main conduit for free speech in the world are both antithetical to the basic American values that Trump has proven he doesn’t grasp, and never will.
Trump’s Muslim ban was a failure the moment he signed the executive order. Not only will it serve as the most effective recruitment tool that ISIS could imagine, but it is inhumane and anti-American. It signals that Trump, along with his unapologetically racist boogeyman Steve Bannon, has no respect for democracy, the history of the country, or human decency.
The only hope we have is that this clownish administration will not be able to outlast the will of the majority of Americans. Trump’s approval ratings are already shot. The protests that have erupted around the country are unlikely to do anything but grow in strength and intensity. The appearance of hundreds of thousands of protesters - joined by elected officials - at airports around the country demonstrates that the opposition to this un-American policy and unqualified president may prove overwhelming.
Still, nothing is certain. A few months ago, it was unimaginable that a person who so lacks the character or decency to occupy any elected office, let alone the presidency, would successfully use bigotry as a springboard to ascend to the highest office in the land, then enact his hateful and ignorant vision as policy. Trump’s Muslim ban is a dark moment that seems to be one of many that we must brace for.
Whether or not our republic can weather the storm is, shockingly, unknown.