Judge Blocks Trump’s Order on Refugees is the lead story in The New York Times of January 28. It is an in depth and on-the-ground look at the consequences of Trump’s January 27 executive order barring people from certain specifically-named Muslim countries from entering the United States. The story, attached here as a live link, includes videos and pictures, and covers the issue—hundreds of individuals and families detained at airports or barred from boarding flights—from many standpoints, from the court in Brooklyn, to the airports in several major American cities, and from Iran and Iraq.
There are a number of aspects of the story that jump out at me.
1. The story underscores my earlier assertion that the print media will provide the backbone and armor that we will all use. Sixteen reporters around the world contributed the material that gives this story its journalistic depth and global breadth. It might have taken sixteen for CNN to conduct some interviews at JFK airport last night, but all but one would have been technical crew, holding cables or driving trucks. And the amount of coverage on the nightly news might be less than five minutes. The print media story—below—gives us material to chew on.
2. The story shows the strength of ordinary American citizens who, in what appeared to be flash protests, showed up at airports across the country to protest the Trump government’s action. The resistance is there.
3. The integrity of American judicial institutions is holding up. The Judge in Brooklyn and another in Virginia issued orders blocking the detentions. Trump, we can be sure, will attempt to appoint Judges who will be compliant with his wishes and impulses. Note: the 1961 Stanley Kramer film Judgement at Nuremberg is the trial not a camp commandant but of a German Judge who chose obedience to the Nazis over fulfilling his oath to serve the law, who allowed unjust laws to become the norm.
4. Trump’s contempt for the law itself is on naked display. All of those detained yesterday or put on airplanes to be sent back to “where you come from” were legal, all had complied with relevant US laws. It is worth repeating: none were illegal immigrants. All had been vetted carefully, a process that had taken years in some cases; all had a legally determined refugee status or a previously issued student visas, some even were legal US residents with Green Cards, some even were within days of becoming US citizens. What they had done is be a Muslim from Syria, Iraq, or Iran.
5. The United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, and Turkey are Muslim countries with very significant terrorist issues, homegrown or ISIS inspired, that the respective governments have not been able to control. These countries were not, however, included in Trump’s executive order. Trump has major development projects in all three. The Trump Organization lists a “best in the world” golf course project in Dubai—the company’s web site is not accessible as of this writing—and resorts and towers in Indonesia and Turkey.
Saudi Arabia, which was also left off the list, has an even more serious terrorist issue, not least of which is that 19 of the 9/11 plotters came into the US on Saudi passports. Saudi exports extremist Islamic views around the world in Wahhabi schools funded by Saudi royals. Until December 2016, after the election, Trump had numerous shell corporations in Saudi. They appear to have been dissolved. No reason has been given. Muslims from those countries were kept of the executive order list almost certainly to avoid offending the powers in those countries who might approve or deny a Trump project.
6. The driving need of any authoritarian or would-be authoritarian government is to instill the habit of obedience in the population. An order given must be obeyed. When the cast of “Hamilton” treated Vice President Pence to a short discourse on inclusion and diversity, Trump tweeted “APOLOGIZE.” The Hamilton cast refused. Trump’s order about the refugees was obeyed ONLY by those whose jobs depended on obeying, the officers of the Department of Homeland Security. The people who showed up to protest, the ACLU lawyers who showed up in the night to help, they did not obey. They refused. We must find our ways to disobey. An implied order emanating from Trump is “Don’t read the New York Times or Washington Post,” because if you do, you will discover things unpleasant and far worse about the president, and that, as Trump often says, Is not “nice.” The underlying order is “don’t think, don’t know.”
The photograph is of Trump displaying the executive order. He has just signed it. Note behind him is the Congressional Medal of Honor, the word “Valor” prominently displayed.