On Saturday morning, I put the finishing touches on what I thought would be today's post about President Donald Trump's awful first week in office. It began like this:
Does anyone else think it's weird that President Donald Trump shows off his signature to camera every time – every single time! - he signs something? “Look ma, I learned how to write my name.”
That was meant only to note a minor but strange behavior quirk among so many others this man exhibits as a lead-in to a report on the president's flurry of terrible executive orders last week along with other appalling executive branch events and the ways we, elders, can resist.
Then I tuned in to the news to see that spontaneous crowds of protesters had erupted at dozens of airports around the United States and in a lot of other countries as travelers from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen were detained in the U.S. by border agents.
The authorization for this detention is Trump's Friday executive order (full text) banning immigrants, refugees and even legal green card holders traveling to the U.S. from those seven majority-Muslim countries, as The New York Times reported:
”The president’s order, enacted with the stroke of a pen at 4:42 p.m. Eastern on Friday, suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries...”
Make no mistake, this is a religious test and there has never before been one in the United States. For god's sake, it is the first founding principle.
At least one federal judge blocked part of Trump's Muslim ban - in particular, ordering that refugees and others detained at U.S. airports not be sent back to their home countries.
People from those seven countries were detained willy-nilly – mothers with children, the sick and infirm, old people.
Lawyers throughout the U.S. rushed to airports, working through Friday night and into Saturday and Sunday to help get the detainees released from custody while numbers of protesters grew as this CNN compilation video shows:
Sunday morning, White House Chief of Staff, Reince Preibus, appeared to roll back the ban on green card holders but then confused the issue when interviewed by Chuck Todd, host of the NBC News program, Meet the Press:
"'We didn't overrule the Department of Homeland Security, as far as green card holders moving forward, it doesn't affect them,' Priebus first said.
“But when pressed by host Chuck Todd on whether it impacts green card holders, Priebus reversed himself, saying, 'Well, of course it does. If you're traveling back and forth, you're going to be subjected to further screening.'
“Asked whether the executive order would affect U.S. citizens, he again indicated it would, suggesting it was up to the 'discretionary authority' of a Customs and Border Patrol agent whether to question citizens coming from the countries in question.”
RB UPDATE SUNDAY EVENING: The White House reversed itself saying that green card holders will henceforth not be affected by the by the Muslim ban.
In addition, CNN reports that Trump said in an interview on Friday
”...that persecuted Christians will be given priority over other refugees seeking to enter the United States, saying they have been 'horribly treated.'
“Speaking with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump said that it had been 'impossible, or at least very tough' for Syrian Christians to enter the United States...
“The United States,” the CNN report continues, “admitted a record number of 38,901 Muslim refugees in 2016, according to a study conducted by Pew. But nearly the same number of Christians, 37,521 were also admitted.”
Let me repeat, this Muslim banning executive order is a religious test no matter what Trump and his White House sycophants say and from day one in the United States, there has never been a religious test.
To that point, even Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who lately has sounded like the president's best buddy, had this to say on Sunday:
”In an interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, McConnell said he supports the notion of strengthening the country's process of vetting immigrants for national security, but not the targeting of specific sects.
“'I don't want to criticize them for improving vetting. I think we need to be careful; we don't have religious tests in this country,' the Kentucky senator said on This Week...
“McConnell told Raddatz of the executive order, 'It's hopefully going to be decided in the courts as to whether or not this has gone too far.'”
Could it be that this executive order is at last too much even for the Republican Congress?
Flipping around the dial on Sunday, I heard Virginia senator and former Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine say that his office has been deluged with phone calls from supporters registering their objection to this executive order. At least one other Democratic Congress person said that too.
I report this to remind readers who believe calls to their Democratic representatives are not necessary because those reps are already on the side of the angels.
Well, that's not always so but more importantly, it lights a fire under them when they get lots of calls and it makes an impact when they can say that on television.
So call your representatives whatever party they belong to. Here's an idea: TGB reader Annie Lindsay made me aware of this:
Print it out and tape it to your refrigerator. Or make your own. And if you can get to your airport today to join the protesters, do that too.
If not, the phone calls are good. The women's march and this nationwide outpouring a week later? Something big is happening and we elders need to do our part.
One more thing. Let us not ever forget the famous words of Martin Niemoller, a protestant pastor who spent the last seven years(!) of the Nazi regime in concentration camps:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.