Today’s rally in Washington D.C. was one of many protesting the executive order signed by President Trump on Friday that amounts to a ban on Muslims from a range of countries in the Middle East, and was very different from any march I’ve seen before. The visa suspensions are a propaganda gift for ISIS, and have hit a nerve at the core of American society.
The executive order calls for the suspension of visas, immigrant and nonimmigrant entry from seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Sudan), a suspension of the refugee resettlement program, an indefinite suspension to U.S. resettlement of Syrian refugees, and directs the State Department to prioritize religious minorities for entry into the United States over other vulnerable groups, restricting resettlement of Muslim refugees from Muslim-majority countries. It has also sparked a broad range of protest across the country.
Today’s event in Washington was the perfect answer to the question posed after the Women’s Marches last week of What Happens Next? The executive order mobilized thousands of people to flock to airports last night in solidarity with detained immigrants, to demonstrate their opposition to the order of offer legal help. More marched today in many American cities and towns.
Today’s atmosphere wasn’t like anything I’d ever witnessed at an American demonstration. My first big American protest was in 1983, the twentieth anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech. It was a huge March for Jobs, Peace and Freedom, a show of strength by the American labor movement and others. I’ve been to plenty in the 34 years since, and given speeches at some. But today’s protest had a completely different taste, as though the country is teetering on the edge of a political earthquake with people from vastly different backgrounds ready to stand firm for basic values of rights.
Today Veterans for American Ideals, a group of more than 2000 veterans of the U.S. armed forces, urged President Trump to reconsider the ban. The new administration, less than two weeks old, is already inspiring a formidable and eclectic coalition of opposition against its early actions targeting refugees.
Something different is taking shape in the U.S. and the visa ban has triggered a spontaneous reaction to protect human rights. Anger and actions are growing at what many see as an Islamophobic act “This is taking us back 70 years, you can’t ban an entire religious group to solve a problem. Trump claims it’s not a Muslim ban but he’s allowing religious minorities in from those Muslim-majority countries on the list,” said Muslim-American Mobashra Tazamal who was at the march today. “People are often fleeing from violence enabled by America.”
The executive order is an obvious attempt to block vulnerable Muslim refugees fleeing terrorism and persecution from securing safety in the U.S., and helps fuel ISIS’s charges that the West is at war with the entire Muslim faith.
History is made by people who say no, and last night and today Americans from across the country said no to the targeting of refugees, no to the visa bans and no to Islamophobia.