Monday, January 30, 2017

The Program

I am not sure which disturbs me more:  texts from an Iranian America friend about the terrifying wait for her parents to return to the U.S. today; or the sound of Trump's press secretary saying that the scores of dissenting diplomats have to "get with the program or get out"

Spicer's slap on these career diplomats horrifies me because I cannot fathom how he defines "program".  Is "the program" barring green card and vetted Visa holders from entering the United States?  Is "the program" stopping a 30-year-old, brilliant PhD from starting important research?

Is "the program" banning travelers from the countries from which terrorists have not come, while allowing travelers from nations spawning terrorists which happen to be those with which Trump does business?

Is "the program" putting money in Trump's pockets at the expense of American values?

I fully understand that each new administration will have its own way of doing things.  But I have yet to hear anyone other than Sean Spicer actually defend Trump's executive order, though I did hear one or two Republican members of the administration and a former Republican adviser suggest that we should give this order, and Trump, a chance to work.

John McCain and Lindsey Graham spoke today against Trump's ban.  Jeff Flake, junior Republican senator from Arizon, said "President Trump and his administration are right to be concerned about national security, but it’s unacceptable when even legal permanent residents are being detained or turned away at airports and ports of entry." Flake continued, in a statement posted on the website "Enhancing long term national security requires that we have a clear-eyed view of radical Islamic terrorism without ascribing radical Islamic terrorist views to all Muslims."

Capital letters: These are Republicans.  Not Democrats, not liberals.  Republicans.

My friend whose parents arrived back in the U.S. today calls upon us to do more than merely voice dissent.  I agree with her.  Trump is not a dictator.  He holds a powerful office but it is not without limits.  Checks and balances keep any branch of office from abusing its power.  Congress must act to offset this tragedy which left thousands stranded, refused entry despite months and even years of vetting, and threatens academia, science, trade, technology, and our world image.

Like my friend's family, the family of Sarah Assali felt the direct, sudden, and menacing impact of Trump's order.  Sarah Assali and her father were expecting to meet Syrian uncles, aunts and cousins at the Philadelphia International Airport on Saturday. But on their way, they got a call from U.S. Customs and Border Protection telling them to stay home. Their family members who are Syrian Christians were heading back to the Middle East, told that if they did not acquiesce, their Visas would be canceled and they would not be allowed to return to the United States for five years.  The family had been working on immigration for fourteen years.  They had liquidated their valuables to afford the plane fare.  Now they are back in Syria, their future uncertain, their resources depleted, and their Herculean efforts to pursue the American dream held for nothing.

If that's the "program", Mr. Trump, count America out.  We left England to avoid a despot King; we fought a civil war  and two World Wars to defend freedom; and our men and women in uniform continue to valiantly fight for the same noble causes.

This is not the American program.  It might be Trump's program, but it is not ours, and we should stand together in protest of this threat to American values.

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