Trump's Muslim ban may just be the first step

Trump's Muslim ban may just be the first step
Comment: If this xenophobic, Islamophobic, nationalistic decree gains judicial consent, do you really think Trump's going to stop there?
7 min read
10 Mar, 2017
The march of fascist nationalism must be stooped, writes Sam Hamad [Getty]

Donald Trump is determined to get his Muslim ban up and running. 

Not deterred by his first attempt at banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and effectively ending the intake of all refugees being struck down by federal judges, Trump has reissued a new executive order, implementing a Muslim ban 2.0. 

In this version, Iraq, one of Washington's key allies in fighting the Islamic State group, is not included - while certain elements of the original ban have been tinkered with to make it more acceptable to the judiciary.

But one ought to make no mistake about what the Trump regime is really trying to do with this executive order. Any expert on terrorism, or simply any keen observer, could tell you this executive order has nothing to do with terrorism or national security.

The Trump regime has attempted to justify the decree based on protecting US citizens from "terrorism" - the order itself was given the characteristically crude title of Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry to the United States - such as by mentioning the 9/11 attacks.

The fact that Trump himself, when announcing the ban, invoked those attacks, saying "we will never forget the lessons of 9/11, nor the heroes who lost their lives" gets to the heart of what this is really about. 

It's not about stopping terrorism, and the Trump regime knows this - internal reports from Trump's own Department of Homeland Security completely contradict the idea that people from the six or seven named in the two different versions of the ban pose a heightened threat to security. 

It is pertinent to point out that none of the 9/11 hijackers come from countries covered in the ban, as it is to point out that no foreign nationals from any of the six countries covered by the ban have ever killed an American on American soil in a terrorist incident.  

These arguments risk arguing that Trump has simply banned the wrong Muslims, so to speak, while missing that the core logic behind the ban is not some logistical attempt to protect Americans from terrorism, but is rather one of pure racist Islamophobia

However, these arguments risk arguing that Trump has simply banned the wrong Muslims, so to speak, while missing that the core logic behind the ban is not some logistical attempt to protect Americans from terrorism, but is rather one of pure racist Islamophobia.

Trump's Muslim ban has emerged from the Islamophobia that has been bubbling away within the US for decades, one that is itself attached to the more general and paradigmatic forms of racism and anti-immigrant nativism associated with the US. 

Its logic is the logic of those who simply don't want Muslims in the US - they conceive of Muslims either in phobic terms, such as irrationally fearing Muslims as a terror threat or as agents of some project of "Islamisation", or they feel that Islam is a component of a racially and culturally inferior civilisation that will pollute the US.

These are the real reasons behind Trump invoking 9/11 when justifying this Muslim ban - it's not about justifying his order through some appeal to logical concern about the chances of another 9/11 happening due to Muslim immigration, but rather to stir up and appeal to Islamophobic hatred in a viscerally and viciously brazen manner.

While Nazi analogies have become synonymous with hyperbole and cliché - and it ought to be stressed that Donald Trump and his movement, while fascistic, are nothing like as dangerous as the Nazis - Trump's determination to pass this Muslim ban has made these comparisons necessary. 

One cannot help but note the similarities in the way "legal" anti-Semitism - the Nazi regime's legislation aimed at otherising and isolating German and other Jews from the social, cultural and political life of Germany - was accompanied by what you might call "street" anti-Semitism, which was the vicious pogroms on Jewish neighbourhoods, synagogues and businesses. 


The most infamous and brutal of these was Kristallnacht ["crystal night" - due to the sheer extent of the shards of broken glass in the aftermath] of November 9, 1938, when hordes of Nazi thugs went on a rampage of destruction of Jewish property and murder of Jewish life. 

While the attacks were not officially endorsed by Hitler or the Nazi Party, it was certainly incited by the vicious state propaganda against Jews, the depiction of Jews as criminals, rapists and parasitic profiteers in the Nazi press, as well as by the anti-Semitic legislation passed by the Nazi regime. 

One piece of legislation that immediately preceded Kristallnacht was the so-called Polenaktion, which was the announcement that the residency permits of certain immigrant groups in Germany were being revoked, most notably of Polish Jews. Immediately, tens of thousands of foreign residents were forced to leave the country or were not permitted for re-entry, thus tearing families and lives apart.

While Trump's America is not the Third Reich, are the parallels not striking? During the initial implementation of Trump's Muslim ban, you had American Green Card holders from the affected Muslim countries locked out of the US, kept apart from their families and kept away from the lives they had built up over years, if not decades.

Accompanying this has been an unprecedented rise in Islamophobic hate crimes within the US since Trump won the presidential election, from everything to arsonist terrorism targeting mosques to, of course, murder. 

On March 5 in Seattle, a Sikh American of Indian origin - since 9/11, Sikhs have been targeted by Islamophobes due to ingrained racial stereotypes - was shot in the arm by a racist yelling "get back to your own country".

A few days earlier, in Kansas, another Indian American was shot dead by a gunman who was similarly heard shouting racist and Islamophobic slurs, as well as the similar refrain "get out of my country".

Nowhere among any of Trump's accounts of 'terror' will you find the kind of terror mentioned above - meted out due to Islamophobia and racism

Along with this, you have a president who, like the Nazi press, highlights every single alleged terror offence committed by Muslims around the world. In fact, he goes one step further and invents terror incidents committed by Muslims, such as his infamous reference to a completely fictitious terror attack in Sweden, along with his chief counsellor Kellyanne Conway's also infamous reference to the completely mythical "Bowling Green massacre", allegedly carried out by Muslim refugees.

Trump even made the claim that the "mainstream media" - as he calls any media that are critical of him and his fascistic programme - are covering up cases of "Islamic terror". Nowhere among any of Trump's accounts of "terror" will you find the kind of terror mentioned above - meted out due to Islamophobia and racism, whether in the US or in any other part of the world. 

You certainly won't anywhere find Trump referencing the Islamophobic terrorist who shot dead six Muslims in a Mosque in Quebec in January - not only because the victims were Muslims, but also because the perpetrator was one of Trump's admirers, as well as a fan of Trump's Islamophobic fascist French ally Marine Le Pen. 

The reason he won't reference this terror is because "terror" has nothing to do with Trump's Muslim ban or his ideology - it's all about inciting hatred against Muslims, depicting them as violent, alien others

This is an attack on Islam itself. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that the Muslim ban, no matter how temporary they say it's going to be, is stopped in its tracks.

If it can gain judicial consent, if it is made legal, Islamophobia of this kind will gain a new level of normalisation. Who knows what will follow? Its expansion to all Muslim-majority countries? Domestically speaking, Muslim Americans will rightfully fear that the Trump regime will come for them next. 

And it's doubtful that they'll stop at Muslims. 

Given the overtly racist white nationalist political positions of some of the key figures in the Trump regime, most notably his right-hand man, Steve Bannon - never mind Trump's own general wall-building, immigrant-demonising nativism - the Muslim ban could very well be the first strike of fascist nationalism becoming the status quo in the US. 

Sam Hamad is an independent Scottish-Egyptian activist and writer.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.