Charles Kennick, guest columnist
A majority of President Trump’s most recent attempt at a travel ban was held back in the district courts once again earlier this month – why does this sound familiar? Because it is.
The saga began during the president’s march to the White House. The idea of a, “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering our country” was lauded by candidate Trump way back in December of 2015 as a crucial policy that would allow the government, “to figure out what’s going on.” Thus, seven days into the Trump presidency, the administration enacted Executive Order 13769, the highlights of which barred travel from seven majority Muslim countries and banned entry for Syrian refugees for three months. Meeting stiff opposition in the courts and protesters in the nation’s airports, the order was a legal and administrative nightmare being suspended only two days later.
This, with a few caveats, was the general template for a variety of travel bans with another version notably being allowed to continue, in part, by the Supreme Court in the summer, and then being held up again in a Hawaiian Federal District Court just a few weeks ago.
Arguments of constitutionality have been presented on both sides of the argument over the various Muslim, or travel, bans. Some say the Trump administration’s implementation of the bans violates the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and others say that it is right of the president to restrict travel into the country on the basis of national security being paramount.
Both are irrelevant.
Hop out of your ideologically derived frame of mind for a moment and remind yourself how ludicrous it is when a country with a massive bronze statue that has the words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” inscribed on it has done this? This ban, and the relentless and continuing fight for it, is a resurrection of a repulsive and loathsome history of nativism that scars our nation; its characters timelessly serving as the punch line in American History textbooks, from the Know-Nothing Party to George Wallace and soon-to-be Donald Trump.
There ought to be a flat, no tolerance policy in American political and cultural discourse of entertaining any discriminatory actions taken by the government towards current or would be immigrants, migrants or refugees. Outside of those of us whose ancestors crossed the Bering Land Bridge roughly 20,000 years ago, we are all foreign to this nation. With proposed walls and no-fly orders, all we accomplish is bastardizing the binding principle of unity of our land: That we are not the same people, that we are different – and that’s what makes us unique from the other great nations of the world. We can practice different religions, speak different languages and cook different food, but collectively, we the people decide what our nation is and will be.
Debating your interpretation of how the executive order best fits in the frame of the Constitution totally legitimizes and promotes xenophobia and nativism to a level that your high school AP U.S. History teacher would be ashamed of. Giving platforms on mass media outlets, from Twitter to Anderson Cooper, of two talking heads giving their side of the interpretation? Who cares! There is no conversation to be had! The message from every politician, pundit, professional or poor man should ring clear across the country: We do not tolerate nativism.
So his ban, this idea, they sound pretty familiar – it’s a repulsive recurring theme that needs to be squashed out of existence in our society. Thus, we ought to reject xenophobia and oust those who support it outright, its core idea being the antithesis to what it means to be an American.