By Louis Gosart, a junior at Stanford Online High School
A desire to punish, John Stuart Mill wrote, is an impulse of self-defense. President Trump must be searching for ways of punishing all Americans… as means to handle his personal insecurities as a political leader and a person unable to face the truth.
On January 27, 2017 President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES. The Order suspends entry of refugees from all countries to the United States for 120 days; bars Syrian refugees for an indefinite period of time; and blocks entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The Order additionally bars green card holders from these seven, primarily Muslim countries from re-entering the United States.
Trump claims the Order will “protect Americans” against “individuals with terrorist ties” admitted to the US. It prevents a possibility of another terrorist attack, similar to Sep. 11, 2001 which Trump uses as a historical precedent. He claims that because “State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications ..the 19 foreign nationals ..went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans.” The truth is that 19 hijackers who attacked the World Trade Center were not from the countries on the President’s ban list. Additionally, the overall chances of an American to be killed by a foreigner on US soil are miniscule, and for the past 40 years have been 1 in 3.6 million per year.
The real reasons behind this Order point to a different direction.
I spoke with Dr. Amir Hussain, a scholar of contemporary Muslim societies in the US, who teaches at Loyola Marymount University. He believes that fear of Muslims feeding on ignorance are the key sentiments behind Trump’s decision.
“We’ve got an administration who are not fans of Islam,” – said Dr. Hussain. “Among these are the President’s national security advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who named Islam a “political ideology” and “cancer”, and Kris Kobach, who conceived the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System that failed to convict a single terrorist during nine years of its operation, which registered more 80 thousand men born in the Muslim-majority countries… In some sense, Trump is not speaking to a majority of Americans… but appeals to his base instead.”
“Part of the problem,” – continued Dr. Hussain, – “is that many believe Muslims are newcomers to America, who haven’t contributed anything to this country. While they haven’t contributed as a majority, they sure have contributed as a minority to what it means to be an American.”
In his recent book Muslims and the Making of America Dr. Hussain demonstrates that at least 10 percent of the slaves brought over from West Africa were Muslim; thus, one can hardly consider Muslims to be newcomers to America. Since the Revolutionary War Muslims served in the US military, contributed to development of American economy, politics culture and sports. One of the greatest American Muslims, Muhammad Ali, had shaped not only world boxing history, but the currents of political and social life during the Civil Rights era.
“Muslims remain a relatively small community in the US” – concluded Dr. Hussain. “It’s easy to demonize a group of people when it’s relatively small. You can sort of feed the populous on the basis of saying, “Hey this is the reason we have problems. But that’s the scapegoat sort of thing.”
In addition to using the Muslim community as a way to escape the responsibility to take care of problems our country faces, Trump aims at advancing his military interests by means of this Order. My research into the Order history pointed to the original Section 6 of this document which proposed building safe zones in Syria. While this provision was not included in the final version its presence in the original text suggests that Trump’s vow to protect Americans is a political strategy that helps transform his interest to intervene in Syria into a homeland security issue. The cost of this intervention can be tremendous. Maintaining security on the ground would require at least 30,000 troops to properly do the job. If Trump decides establish a no-fly zone in Syria it may cost additional $1 billion per month to maintain it. Yet, the real danger is that “a safe zone would become an open-ended military mission in a country that has collapsed into very bitter factional warfare,” – warns Jim Phillips, senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the right-leaning Heritage Foundation quoted in the Wall Street Journal. – “[A]ny U.S. troops that were inserted in Syria would immediately become lightning rods for a terrorist attack.”
The sad irony is that Trump’s promise to protect Americans endangers the security of our country. Apart from the disruption which continues to shake American campuses and airports, its anti-Muslim sentiment expresses his resentment to all minorities. The Order is also a covert move to engage the US into a next military conflict in the midst of economic and social difficulties we face at the moment. A desire to punish, John Stuart Mill wrote, is an impulse of self-defense. President Trump must be searching for ways of punishing all Americans, Muslim or not – as means to handle his personal insecurities as a political leader and a person unable to face the truth.
 I would like to thank Dr. Amir Hussain for his help in talking with me for this article.