Solidarity in the Face of the Ban
We await news of Trump’s series of anti-immigration Executive Orders, which will likely include plans to build a wall and place a ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, including my country of origin Iran.
Trump’s ban will target individuals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. As Moustafa Bayoumi explains, author of How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America, “So, if you come from a Muslim-majority country that has been invaded, overthrown, or bombed by the US, you can’t come in.”
The details of the ban have not yet been released, but what is clear is that this move is discriminatory, ineffective, and perpetuates the hate plaguing our country.
Individuals attempting to come to the United States face rigorous screening that spans 1-2 years. It’s already a rigid process that is only accessible to folks with means or the circumstances classifying them as highly vulnerable, such as widows and children coping with trauma from the Syrian war. The process discriminates against those who don’t have the means and those who are considered “at-risk” because of their age, marital status, or sex.
The United States’ immigration process is already one of the most difficult in the world.
So why would Trump place a ban? It’s the same reason that he will sign an Executive Order about a wall. This is a political move to consolidate his power, get his party in line, and to play on the fear and hate that elected him. We are his scapegoats once again.
Executive Orders don’t necessarily mean much. Obama signed an Executive Order to close down Guantanamo during his first week in office, yet it still exists. But Trump’s ban doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The fact remains that Trump’s order will expand upon the discriminatory Visa Waiver bill H.R. 158 that Congress passed during Obama’s second term.
If we don’t immediately stand up and denounce Trump’s actions, we will continue to be out-organized and marginalized by his followers.
Our organizing efforts must not be at the expense of other communities. Trump’s ban, much like his campaign, thrives on the fear and hate that many already experience. We must understand the demonization of our community in the context of the broader targeting of black and brown communities in the United States. We are all under attack.
The Iranian diaspora community is young and has benefited countless times from the support and efforts of other communities. Our American story began after the struggles of the Irish, Jewish, Chinese, Arab, and African-American communities. The victories of the civil rights movement paved the path for us to exist. The argument of ‘we aren’t terrorists’ didn’t particularly matter in the 80s when we were the ‘hostage takers.’ Our old and tired narratives of proving we are more American or that we’re less a threat than another community have historical roots as failed attempts by other communities. We need to learn from the experiences of others and not perpetuate the same apologist or scapegoating rhetoric.
The attacks against SWANA (Southwest Asian and North African) communities rose dramatically in 2015. Attackers didn’t discriminate between Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, and other faiths. They didn’t differentiate between Arabs and Iranians. No hate crime charges were filed against Shayan Mazroei’s killer just as they weren’t against Hussain Saeed Alnahdi’s, a Saudi Arabian student who was beaten to death in front of dozens of witnesses in a Wisconsin college town during Halloween weekend.
Stand up today. Denounce the hate that gives rise to such bans and walls. Remember, the civil rights movement wasn’t built by paid organizers and nonprofit institutions, many of which didn’t yet exist. Petitions and donating to organizations are important, yes. We need institutions to support and defend us, and to disseminate information. But these are strange times. We need to be in the streets. We need to push back. We can’t show up on Trump’s inauguration day and stay silent during his presidency. Our social media won’t touch him. Our petitions won’t sway him – he’s not collaborating with us to bring America together.
Trump is a bully President who only responds to power. We need to organize and demonstrate that power every. single. day. Together.
We must demonstrate our power together.
Events Today (I’ll update as I get word – please feel free to comment or send as well)
New York City (Wednesday, 1/25): https://www.facebook.com/events/1822485898020815/
Washington DC (Wednesday, 1/25): https://www.facebook.com/events/613293632196454/
Lawyers needed at JFK, Newark, Dulles, O’Hare, Miami, LAX airports to help refugees already traveling to the US who will be impacted: https://refugeerights.org/urgent-call-protect-refugees-arriving-at-airports/