What’s Left: History Repeats Itself

I am by no means an overtly religious man; I have never committed myself to scripture, or taken much solace in prayer. Yet, I know this much: religion, at its core, is intended to be a binding and unifying force. For this reason, I feel a strong connection to my Jewish heritage and the surrounding culture. On Friday, during Holocaust Remembrance Day, I took a moment out of my day to remember those who were lost during the Holocaust. At 3:45 pm EST, I tweeted, “Remembrance is about more than acknowledging the 10M+ that were lost; it is standing up to ensure we’ll never go back.” Less than one hour later, at 4:42 pm EST, President Donald Trump signed an executive order indefinitely barring immigration from seven Muslim majority nations and suspended admission of Syrian refugees for four months. The timing of this executive order is relevant, it is notable and it is horrifying. As people across the globe remembered the persecution of one religion, we watched our president take steps to persecute another.

Make no mistake: President Trump’s executive order was deliberately designed to target people of one faith. We must reject any euphemism, refute any alternative label. This is a Muslim ban.

The United States of America will not stand for a deliberate attack on any faith or creed. That is exactly what this is. Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted that this is not a Muslim ban, but that is simply an “alternative fact.” We know this because Trump pledged to institute a Muslim ban during his campaign, only to walk it back after drawing the ire of Speaker Paul Ryan and other top ranking Republicans (ironically Mike Pence included). We know this because trusted confidant and administration member, Rudy Giuliani, went on-air to reveal that Trump asked him to, “put a commission together, [and to] show me the right way to do it legally.”

In the complete text of his executive order, President Trump evokes the horrific attacks of September 11 as a rationale for banning immigration from several Middle Eastern nations. How do we know that this is an absurd justification? None of the 19 hijackers involved that day were from any of the seven countries –– Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Somalia –– that Trump elected to ban. What is even more remarkable about the seven countries that Trump barred is that these are nations that have, by all statistical measures, posed no domestic threat to the U.S. in decades. Since 1975, there has not been a single American killed by citizens from any of the seven countries that Trump listed in his executive order. We know that Trump is lying when he says, “This is not about religion –– this is about terror and keeping our country safe.” If this executive order was truly about terror, Trump would have banned immigration from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, whose citizens have been responsible for the deaths of more than 3,000 Americans in that same time period. Instead, he passed over these nations, almost certainly because of his publically known business ties. These are three Muslim majority nations with which the Trump Organization has done or pursued deals. In this action, Trump revealed his true intentions: to impose an executive order centered around religion and built on fear-mongering, rather than combatting more empirically legitimate threats.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was spot-on in their analysis of Trump’s order, stating that it is a clear “euphemism for discriminating against Muslims.” You need not be a constitutional expert, nor memorize Emily Lazarus’s Statue of Liberty poem to know that this executive order goes against every fiber of our nation’s history. Not only is it potentially unconstitutional, it is utterly un-American. When we turn away children and families fleeing from disaster, isolate and discriminate our neighbors and turn our backs on those who need us most, we defy the most basic principles of our free and democratic society. It is a frightful moment that questions whether we have lost sight of who we truly are as a nation.

So tonight, and in the coming weeks and months, I will do something that I do not typically do. I will take a moment to say a prayer. Both in remembrance of those who were lost, and in the hopes of becoming a nation united, committed to fighting so that we may never go back.