Trump ban on Muslim-majority countries has nothing to do with national security, and everything to do with appeasing his racist base


As we discussed last night, Trump’s clearly illegal ban on those entering the United States from majority-Muslim nations was interesting in that not all majority-Muslim nations were included. While Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen made the list, several others, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, did not… which is odd, given that’s where the 9/11 hijackers were from. Of course, as others have pointed out, Trump has economic interests in those countries, so maybe that went into the calculation. Regardless, it’s worth noting that this clearly has little do to with national security, which, come to think of it, is probably why, at the same time Trump signed this ban, he also removed the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the National Security Council. [More on that in a minute.] No, as Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the conservative Brookings Institution Benjamin Wittes points out, this is all about giving Trump’s racist base the red meat that they crave, without thought as to the ramifications… Here’s a clip.

Put simply, I don’t believe that the stated purpose is the real purpose. This is the first policy the United States has adopted in the post-9/11 era about which I have ever said this. It’s a grave charge, I know, and I’m not making it lightly. But in the rational pursuit of security objectives, you don’t marginalize your expert security agencies and fail to vet your ideas through a normal interagency process. You don’t target the wrong people in nutty ways when you’re rationally pursuing real security objectives.

When do you do these things? You do these things when you’re elevating the symbolic politics of bashing Islam over any actual security interest. You do them when you’ve made a deliberate decision to burden human lives to make a public point. In other words, this is not a document that will cause hardship and misery because of regrettable incidental impacts on people injured in the pursuit of a public good. It will cause hardship and misery for tens or hundreds of thousands of people because that is precisely what it is intended to do.

To be sure, the executive order does not say anything as crass as: “Sec. 14. Burdening Muslim Lives to Make Political Point.” It doesn’t need to. There’s simply no reason in reading it to ignore everything Trump said during the campaign, during which he repeatedly called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Even while he was preparing to sign the order itself, he declared, “This is the ‘Protection of the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.’ We all know what that means.” Indeed, we do. This document is the implementation of a campaign promise to keep out Muslims moderated only by the fact that certain allied Muslim countries are left out because the diplomatic repercussions of including them would be too detrimental…

I think we can, without drawing any kind of equivalence between this order and Jim Crow, make a similar point here: Is this document a reasonable security measure? There are many areas in which security policy affects innocent lives but within which we do not presumptively say that the fact that some group of people faces disproportionate burdens renders that policy illegitimate. But if an entire religious grouping finds itself irrationally excluded from the country for no discernible security benefit following a lengthy campaign that overtly promised precisely such discrimination and exactly this sort of exclusion, if the relevant security agencies are excluded from the policy process, and if the question is then solemnly propounded whether the reasonable pursuit of security is the purpose, I think we ought to exercise one of the sovereign prerogatives of philosophers—that of laughter.

So yes, the order is malevolent. But here’s the thing: Many of these malevolent objectives were certainly achievable within the president’s lawful authority. The president’s power over refugee admissions is vast. His power to restrict visa issuances and entry of aliens to the United States is almost as wide. If the National Security Council had run a process of minimal competence, it could certainly have done a lot of stuff that folks like me, who care about refugees, would have gnashed our teeth over but which would have been solidly within the President’s authority. It could have all been implemented in a fashion that didn’t create endless litigation opportunities and didn’t cause enormous diplomatic friction.

How incompetent is this order? An immigration lawyer who works for the federal government wrote me today describing the quality of the work as “look[ing] like what an intern came up with over a lunch hour. . . . My take is that it is so poorly written that it’s hard to tell the impact.” One of the reasons there’s so much chaos going on right now, in fact, is that nobody really knows what the order means on important points.

So, yeah, it looks as though we’ve been dragged into a colossal cluster fuck by a populist President who has absolutely no idea how the government works or what national security really means. This executive order, as Wittes tells us in the piece quoted above, was “not reviewed by (the Department of Homeland Security), the Justice Department, the State Department, or the Department of Defense.” Furthermore, “National Security Council lawyers were prevented from evaluating it.” Also, “Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, the agencies tasked with carrying out the policy, were only given a briefing call while Trump was actually signing the order itself.” So not only wasn’t this legislation looked at by government attorneys, but those charged with implementing it weren’t consulted. Is it any wonder that our airports are in turmoil?

This is not how you run a country.

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  1. Eel
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    The quickest way off the list is to build a Trump hotel.

  2. EOS
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    There are 49 Muslim majority countries in the world. Trump has a temporary ban on Immigrants from only 7 nations.

  3. Jean Henry
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I guess that makes it ok… We’re talking about people with legal gov approved visas, and legal residents with dual citizenships and green cards. It’s blatantly unconstitutional. It’s also immoral. This has zero to do with national security, and everything to do with making a display of power while appealing to Islamaphobia. Bigotry and fear may appeal to many of the 12% of the population who voted Trump, but it’s not playing to the rest of us. It’s unconstitutional and immoral. Where’s your Objection to excess use of executive power now, EOS?

  4. jean henry
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

  5. EOS
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    It’s a 3 -4 month delay to allow our government time to establish a secure vetting process and is necessitated by Obama’s failure to establish a rational immigration plan. These 7 countries have large numbers of persons openly hostile to the US or have no stable centralized form of government for us to contact to verify identities. I don’t want to see problems in the US similar to what Germany and Switzerland are now experiencing due to large influxes of refugees in a relatively short time period.

  6. jean henry
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    EOS– obviously I disagree, but even the policy objectives you detail are not addressed by this executive action. It’s a process that needs to go through Congress. Luckily, Trump hasn’t been able to corrupt the federal courts yet, so the action will be rolled back via court order.
    I wouldn’t expect the left to accept your analysis any time soon. I know that only makes you more certain you are right.

    Hey- I heard a new term for confirmation bias yesterday from a social psychologist who studies it: Agenda-based Reasoning.

  7. EOS
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t see you protesting when Obama halted immigration from Iraq for 6 months in 2011 for the very same reasons.

  8. wobblie
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    EOS you are a complete tool. It is one thing to ban NEW immigrants from entering. That is not what the Donald has done. I guess you know fruit, but can’t tell the difference between apples and oranges.
    .A 2013 ABC News article reported, “The State Department stopped PROCESSING Iraq refugees for six months in 2011, federal officials told ABC News.”(emphasis added) Trump has banned all existing immigrants from reentering the US if they originated in one of the 7 countries.

    I can believe you are an ignorant tool, but you display attributes of intelligence, which makes it likely you are simply another christian hypocrite.

  9. EOS
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Those who immigrate become citizens. Those with a green card are resident aliens who retain alligience to their home country. The Trump administration is reviewing the cases of green card holders on a case by case basis and admitting those without ties to terrorism. They are detained, questioned, and then released if no incriminating evidence is found. None of this would be necessary had Obama enacted a rational immigration policy. His six month ban was necessitated when the FBI found that dozens of terrorists had been admitted under the guise of refugee status.

  10. charlieRomeo
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    When will the Trump administration come up with a “final solution” and start building detention camps and ovens ?

  11. wobblie
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Justin Amash
    2 hrs ·

    Many supporters and opponents of President Trump’s executive order are conflating the terms “immigrant” (which encompasses green card holders), “nonimmigrant,” and “refugee.”

    It’s not lawful to ban immigrants because of “nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.” This nondiscrimination provision comes from a 1965 law (8 U.S.C. 1152 Sec. 202(a)(1)(A)) that limits the 1952 law (8 U.S.C. 1182 Sec. 212(f)) that the president cites.

    It’s lawful to ban nonimmigrants for almost any reason. These are people who are temporarily visiting the United States, like tourists or students.

    It’s lawful to ban refugees for almost any reason. But banning all refugees from particular countries is harsh and unwise. We still should admit well-vetted persons.

    Understanding these distinctions is important because supporters of President Trump’s executive order continue to wrongly insist that the order is lawful and that President Obama did almost the same thing in 2011. And opponents of President Trump’s executive order continue to wrongly insist that banning refugees violates the Constitution or the law.

    President Trump’s executive order covers not only refugees but also immigrants and nonimmigrants. As noted above, it’s not lawful to discriminate in the issuance of an *immigrant* visa because of the person’s “nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.”

    President Obama’s action (which wasn’t disclosed at the time) covered only refugees and, therefore, did not violate the Constitution or the law, even if one finds it objectionable for other reasons.

  12. Facts?
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Dozens EOS? So Breitbart is downplaying the threat?

    Remember – it’s Sunday.

  13. EOS
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:41 pm | Permalink


    From the Breitbart link you provided, “several dozen suspected terrorist bombmakers”

  14. EOS
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Breitbart may have downplayed the threat. This article says that the FBI had evidence against several dozen terrorists, not merely suspected.

    And it being Sunday makes no difference. A person of integrity is truthful 24/7/365. It’s their nature.

  15. EOS
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Permalink


  16. Posted January 29, 2017 at 9:50 pm | Permalink


    Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released the following statement today on the President’s executive order on immigration:

    “Our government has a responsibility to defend our borders, but we must do so in a way that makes us safer and upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation.

    “It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump’s executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security.

    “Such a hasty process risks harmful results. We should not stop green-card holders from returning to the country they call home. We should not stop those who have served as interpreters for our military and diplomats from seeking refuge in the country they risked their lives to help. And we should not turn our backs on those refugees who have been shown through extensive vetting to pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children.

    “Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism. At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”

  17. Posted January 29, 2017 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Screen Shot 2017-01-29 at 9.31.16 PM


  18. charlieRomeo
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    The charts above show that Trump is a traitor and has committed high crimes against the United States. He should be impeached.

  19. EOS
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    Your chart is missing 38 majority Muslim countries which have no temporary ban and where Trump must not have business dealings.

    As for McCain and Graham, they are going to oppose everything Trump does. Neither one of them ever had double digit support in the presidential election. Their careers have tanked since their gang of six betrayal. Neither has any respect in the Senate but the media loves to go to them for sound bites. They are trying to destroy the party from within in order to further an elite internationalist agenda. Their side lost in the last election.

  20. jean henry
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    EOS- Obama did not institute a ban, but a slow down of the visa review process. More misinformation talking points provided by the right wing misinformation machine.

  21. Meta
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I don’t believe it’s been verified yet, but it’s being claimed that US border patrol agents are now “checking people’s Facebook for political views”.

    The Independent UK:

    US border agents are checking people’s Facebook pages for their political views before allowing them into the country, an immigration lawyer has claimed.

    Houston-based lawyer Mana Yegani said several green card holders, who have the right to live and work in the US, were detained by border agents at American airports hours after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning immigration from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa.

    The ban affect travellers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and also extends to green card holders who are granted authorisation to live and work in the United States, according to a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman.

    Read more:

  22. Fake Ass Bullshitter
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    You mindless sheep. Muslims good…Trump Baaaaaaad.

    Think before you attack and see beyond your pointy little noses.
    These are the most populated Muslim countries……Not banned.

  23. Donald Harrison
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure how/if a facebook video will appear on here, but here’s some of my observations of how a few thousand people felt about this ban at DTW yesterday:

  24. Huron
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Stephen Miller was behind the executive order: “You get a very young person in the White House on a power trip thinking that you can just write executive orders and tell all of your Cabinet agencies to go to hell. And Washington’s in an uproar this morning — forget about what’s happening in the street — because Stephen Miller decided he was going to do this without going through the regular interagency process.”

  25. Huron
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    EOS: “I didn’t see you protesting when Obama halted immigration from Iraq for 6 months in 2011 for the very same reasons.”

    The reality is somewhat different.

    See the Chicago Tribune for details.

    “Fact check: Trump’s claim that his refugee policy is similar to Obama’s in 2011”

  26. jean henry
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    There was zero departmental review of the Executive Order before it was implanted:

    Further visa holders being held at airports and borders are being forced to sign voluntary deportation orders under threat of arrest. This is being reported at multiple news outlets.

    This is so much worse than government run like a business. This is givernment ruled by a tyrant. This is everything our country was designed to resist.

    I feel sick when I think of how all those Trumpers accused Obama of excessive use of executive power and then stand by and cheer as this goes on.

  27. greater734
    Posted February 5, 2017 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    I tuned in only for the SuperBowl halftime show, and caught the broadcast of the first part of “Journey 84,” a commercial from 84 Lumber, based in Eighty-Four, Pennsylvania. It’s totally worth watching the whole thing — a narrative about a mother and daughter heading north toward the US-Mexico border. If you have a choice in lumber (and you’re in the market for lumber, unlike those of us decamped to tiny apartments in Manhattan), support their project.

    Note that the whole film, according to the 84 web site, was deemed “too controversial for TV.” As our self-esteemed president might say, that is “Sad!”

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