Anne Frank could have been a 88-year-old living in the USA today, if the United States didn’t enforce draconian limitations and constantly changing rules on Jewish refugees seeking to flee Nazi Germany. Her father, Otto Frank, struggled to find safety for his two daughters in the United States, but the process was fruitless in the face of a bureaucracy bent on limiting the numbers of Jewish refugees in the United States. She ended up dying in a Nazi concentration camp at the age of 15, along with her mother and sister.
The recent Supreme Court decision allows President Trump’s Muslim Ban to stand, except for those with a “bona fide relationship” in the United States. This may sound like a concession, but is poised to establish a system as horrific as the system that Otto Frank struggled to satisfy 75 years ago as he sought to save his children. Documents discovered a decade ago describe in extensive detail Otto Frank’s struggle to establish his connections―his “bona fide relationships” ―with the United States. Another refugee of Nazi Germany described this in a letter to the New York Times in response to the Supreme Court’s decision.
The decision by the Supreme Court to allow parts of President Trump’s travel ban to proceed smacks of the favoritism that we saw just before the start of World War II. Because my family and I, refugees from Hitler’s Germany, had relatives living in New York City, we could immigrate in 1939 to the United States. Yet many German Jews who did not have connections in this country were not so lucky. Most of them never made it and perished in the gas chambers.
And in a decision during that same devastating time, the Supreme Court approved the exclusion of Japanese Americans with a 6-3 vote, in a decision that has not yet been officially overruled. It seems that sometimes our better human consciousness is not reflected by our highest courts.
We know that this Muslim Ban 3.0 is nothing but that, a Muslim Ban. President Trump has always been clear about his intentions. In late 2015, well before the general election, he was already calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
The connection between public policy and Islamophobia
These policies―whether actualized, like the Muslim Ban, or threatened, as in the threat to establish a Muslim registry or ban Muslim American organizations―all have a real impact in emboldening attacks on Muslims. These attacks come from every direction: from scheming Islamophobes, the White House’s Islamophobic policies, the bigots on the streets who attack Muslim women with headscarf, and the bullies who torment Muslim children in schools.
We see everyday bigots emboldened by this sort of rhetoric, as in the example of a man who harassed a Muslim family at a Texas beach. He shouted profanities and slurs, declaring “Donald Trump will stop you!”
The sacred month of Ramadan began with an attack on two teenage girls in Portland, one with a scarf. Jeremy Joseph Christian, well-known as a white supremacist, used anti-Muslim slurs as he shouted at the girls to “get off the bus, and get out of the country.” When three brave men sought to intervene, the bigot attacked them with a knife, and the two men died for their courage. Throughout Ramadan, reports of attacks on Muslim women with hijab terrorized Muslims who sought only to worship at their mosques.
Since Donald Trump became our president, several Muslims have been murdered and injured, 5 mosques have been razed to the ground, and about 40 Muslim places of worship have been attacked, with many of the perpetrators professing loyalty to the President.
But the President has yet to utter a word of warning and discourage such a behavior towards Muslims Americans. On the contrary, President Trump has rejected even symbolic kindness, refusing to continue the 20-year-old tradition of celebrating Ramadan at the White House.
The Impact of Muslim Ban 3.0 on America’s Global Brand
These decisions will only continue to lower America’s moral position. We once led the fight against religious discrimination. Now it is validated in our highest elected office and by the highest court, as the Congress stays silent.
News of Trump’s actions is sinking the favorable rating of America across the globe. A recent poll of 37 countries found that just 49% are favorably inclined toward America now, as compared to 64% in the last days of President Obama’s presidency.
Favorable ratings are necessary for good business. Given how deeply Trump cares for the Donald Trump brand, you would think he’d be able to understand the importance of caring for America’s brand.
Stealth Attacks on Muslims
Then there are the stealth attacks being used to target American Muslim citizens. Unlike policies like the Muslim Ban, these attacks remain unpublicized. They come likely through internal government memos, sent by the Islamophobes in the White House. It is these stealth attacks that deny legitimate Muslim charities their PayPal funds, disrupt Muslim-owned businesses, and cause severe trouble for traveling Muslims even before this Muslim Ban 3.s.
How the Muslim Ban 3.0 will Impact American Muslims
The Supreme Court’s “kindness” in allowing those with a “bona fide relationship” to be exempted is highly dependent on the person on the border. There are many professionals who do their jobs honorably, but there are other who treat people so poorly that in one survey 66% of foreign travelers, mostly whites from Western Europe, said they were afraid of coming to the United States for fear that a simple mistake could result in horrible treatment or long detainments.
When a decision is left to officers on the border to determine a “bona fide relationship”, strange―and unfair―things happen. Muhammad Ali Jr., the son of sports legend Muhammad Ali, was detained twice after the first Muslim Ban. He’s African-American; he is not from those 6 designated countries―but he is Muslim. His mother, Muhammad Ali’s former wife, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, had to show her photos with Muhammad Ali to be released. Traveling while Muslim is becoming as distinct a phenomenon as walking while black.
All Muslims will face discriminatory questions at the border, including American citizens and not just those from the six countries on the list. Once, shortly after a conference of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, I carried a photo book gifted to me by Sikhs as I landed in the United States. The agents wasted an hour of their time having me explain the Sikh faith to them. That day I chose not to explain that I am not personally a Sikh.
Refugees are a Billion Times Safer than the Average Joe on our Streets
We must also remember that this whole ordeal is based on alternative facts. The President claims that the ban is to protect the United States from terrorists. However, research by the Cato Institute asserts that no one from the six countries banned has killed anyone in a terror attack on the U.S. soil since 1975. And, again according to the Cato Institute, the chance of being killed in a terrorist attack by refugees is roughly one in 3.6 billion a year, as compared to the chance of being murdered by anyone, which is 1 in 14,000. Further, none of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers came from any of the six countries on the list.
The threat that the Muslim Ban is responding to is essentially imaginary.