Tuesday, January 31, 2017

An Executive Order

Lest we forget what we are fighting...
Somehow the conversation always turns around to Trump these days. And usually in the most negative of ways. It almost doesn’t matter how the conversation starts out. Somewhere along the way someone will say ‘Trump’ and that ends up taking up the lion’s share of the conversation.

I can’t say I’m surprised by that. During the election campaign Trump just about sucked up all the air in the room. I do not recall any candidate in American history getting such media coverage. Most of it negative. And for good reason. His rhetoric inspired it. It caused me to vote against a candidate whose stated views favored Israel a lot more than any of his Presidential predecessors; and all of his Democratic opponents. That kind of talk heard from the Trump campaign was never heard before by any major party candidate for President. However, I voted for his opponent. Because I believed that he was the most unqualified candidate for President in American history.

And yet the vast majority of Orthodox Jews voted for him. I can only guess at the reason for what to me is a most perplexing phenomenon. The hatred for Mrs. Clinton and her former boss at ‘State’ (i.e. the ex President) was so strong, they would have voted for an alley cat before they voted for her. They viewed Obama as the most anti Israel President in American history and saw Clinton following in his footsteps. That too is shocking since that was patently untrue.

I really don’t understand that. Even after the terrible deal with Iran, that horrible vote allowed by Obama in the UN, and the money he quickly tried to funnel over to the Palestinian Authority just before he left office. Yes, even with that, he was clearly not anti Israel considering the unprecedented financial, military, and intelligence aid he gave them. I guess that is how so many Orthodox Jews saw him. But I digress. Back to Trump.

My fears seem to have been justified. At least so far. (It’s early. Perhaps Trump will settle down after a while. One can hope.)

How are we to react to one of the President’s first acts? He issued an executive order to temporarily ban (120 days) all refugees coming from 7 Muslim countries the Obama administration connected to terrorism. I don’t think the answer is as simple as the ACLU, the mainstream media and all the massive protests across the country make it out to be

First let me state the obvious. I agree that there should be no religious test for refugees entering the country. Humanitarian concerns should be the first consideration of a country known for its kindness. And certainly the vast majority of Muslims fleeing a country like Syria qualify for that concern. Many European countries – most notably Germany - have opened their doors wide open to these people giving them a refuge from the terror they experienced at home.

But what about the security issue? The fear of a terrorist infiltrating the ranks of these refugees is real. One cannot discount the distinct possibility that a terrorist who looks and acts like a Muslim refugee can slip right through the vetting process as it stands. And as virtually all counter terrorism agencies constantly remind us, all it takes is one.

One terrorist can come in along with thousands of legitimate refugees - and then one fine day show up at a crowded mall or well attended celebration and blow himself up; or start shooting indiscriminately at people; or drive a truck into a crowd of innocent people. One terrorist! … and many innocent people die. Just as has been the case in European countries and this country. So many times!

Many people point to the fact that there is no evidence that any of those attacks were done by a someone allowed in as a refugee. I’m not so sure about that. But even if that’s true, there is little doubt about the Islamist ideology that motivates them. In just about every case of terror -  the terrorist was a Muslim inspired by Islamist Jihadist propaganda. In almost all cases they picked up that ideology in travels back to those countries and hooking up with Jihadist clerics. Or they picked it up on terrorist internet sites. It is therefore not unreasonable to be especially cautious when allowing Muslims into the country. It is Islam that spawned the Islamism and the resultant terrorism. That cannot and should not be ignored.

There are of course those like the ACLU and others who ignore all that and argue that this temporary ban on Muslim immigrants violates our principles. Some have even compared it to Jews seeking refuge from the Nazis before and during the Holocaust.

That comparison is odious in the extreme! While there may be some similarities, the situations are not the same. There were no Jews asking asylum whose coreligionists were screaming ‘God is great’ while blowing themselves up in a crowd of innocent people. There was on the other hand the systematic murder of thousands of Jews even before the ‘Final Solution’ and certainly after. And yet the American people of that time did not raise much of a protest (if there were any at all) about the St. Louis being turned away or the refusal by the government to grant entry to Jewish refugees from Europe even as immigration quotas remained unfilled! There was instead a national apathy for ‘The Jews’. Without a word of protest against FDR and his State department which was responsible for immigration and humanitarian gestures towards refugees.

This is not to say that Trumps executive order temporarily barring Muslims into the country will assure our safety.  As noted there are plenty of home grown potential terrorists that are inspired by ISIS on line. It is mostly from their ranks that terrorists have arisen in this country But at least one possible source of it has been reduced.

The hue and cry by those protesting and the media focus on it is unprecedented. The way it should have been during the Holocaust. The anti Trump backlash on this issue never materialized against FDR when he allowed his State department to ignore the humanitarian pleas to help the Jewish people of Europe escape literal genocide.

This is not to say that the current concern of the protesters is not legitimate. If it was right to do so during the Holocaust, it is also right to do it now. Even though as noted the two cases are not the same, it is only a matter of degree.

But I can’t help but notice who it is protesting the loudest. These are the same people that supported the UN resolution condemning Israel; the deal with Iran;  gay marriage; abortion on demand;  oppose school choice and see Israel as an Apartheid state. In other words the political left, the ACLU, and ‘progressive’ clergy (including progressive rabbis) with an unrelenting Trump hating mainstream media coverage sympathetic to the left.  

The protests are huge. But at most they represent only one half of the country. Not the half that voted for Trump  since he is doing exactly what he promised he would. It should also not be lost on anyone that England just voted to leave the European Union (Brexit) primarily for the following reason: to stop the flow of refugees from Muslim countries.

The real fear all of these progressives have is not about denying refugees their refuge. It is the fear that all the cherished ‘American’ (read: liberal) values achieved over the last eight years will be overturned. Overturned by conservatives whose values they see as anathema to their ‘enlightened’ humanistic values. Which they believe to be far superior to the archaic views of the religious right that comprises much of the conservative base. Trump’s executive order was just a trigger (and excuse) to hold yet another protest against this man. That he is such an incompetent disgusting boor gives them cover. They are after all only standing up for the American value of compassion against ‘bigot’!

One might surmise from these words that I support what the President did. I do not. I would have done things a bit differently. Like slowing down the process with the kind extreme vetting Trump referred to later in his campaign. Certainly I would have allowed for certain carefully selected exceptions. Like those Muslims that have worked with us to combat Islamist terrorism.

The bottom line is, though, that there is no inherent right of anyone to enter this country’s borders. That I supported many US governors that closed their state’s door is not the same thing as not allowing them into the country at all. (Nor do I recall any protests about it when these governors did it.)  Immigrants enter our borders by virtue of this country’s immigration laws.  Why are Muslims being picked on? Does that question really need to be asked?