Downsides of Trump's Muslim ban and the smart alternative

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Donald Trump and his advisors Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller have created a royal mess with an Executive Order that halts certain types of travel and immigration to the U.S. The Order has set off protests at airports across the U.S. and has been partly put on hold by a federal judge.

One benefit to the Trump administration is continuing their obsession with separating the liberal elites from their yahoo base. The Trump administration surely knew how their Order would be received and perhaps figured they could then present the elites as weak on terrorism and their base would buy it. And, no doubt some have.

However, whatever sleazy political benefit the Trump administration might get from the Order, it's coming at a great cost to the U.S.

The downsides of the Order include:

  • It will be perceived as a ban directed at Muslims. Even though it doesn't cover all predominantly Muslim countries, it will be perceived as a Muslim ban. That feeds right into the talking points that ISIS and other terror groups use to recruit new members. That's especially so given Trump's comments that he wants to increase admissions of Syrian Christian refugees. ISIS wants a religious war, a clash of civilizations. A fair part of Trump's yahoo base probably wants that too, but no one who's sane does. We have to get along with the 1.6 billion Muslims, seeking allies and marginalizing extremists. Trump's Order empowers extremists. (See, for instance, "'A GREAT GIFT TO EXTREMISTS' Iran and Indonesia warn Donald Trump's Muslim ban will only fuel terrorism" [1]).
  • Along the same lines, the Order alienates those in the affected countries (or additional countries that will be added) who we need as allies against terrorism.
  • The Order has already blocked some foreigners who put their lives on the line to help the U.S. (such as translators from Iraq). That will result in reduced local assistance for the U.S.
  • The Order won't protect the U.S. from potential terrorists coming from countries that aren't being scrutinized (such as France).
  • Trump handed a big victory to the American Civil Liberties Union and expect more of those to come. Those who oppose the ban don't look weak on terrorism as Trump and Bannon want, they look like they support our Constitution. The ACLU's big win is no doubt going to lead to even more donations that they can use to fight future Trump efforts. (UPDATE: Per CNN, the ACLU picked up over $19.4 million in small donations just this weekend alone. That could translate into somewhere in the neighborhood of 40,000 hours of high-powered legal help.)
  • Most of Trump's Order will probably be blocked by the courts or Congress. Even if you incorrectly think the Order would keep the U.S. safer, it can't do that if it's tied up in the courts. What use is a plan that can't be implemented?

If Trump/Bannon/Miller were smart, rational, and patriotic, the only thing they needed to do was enact stringent screening for every foreigner entering the U.S., without mentioning religions or regions as I suggested back in December 2015. Who could argue with such a commonsense plan? Some might try, but they'd look bad for doing so. Trump could have gotten a lot of support for such a plan, and defense of such a plan could be done credibly. That plan wouldn't have all the downsides listed above.

And, regarding the numbers of Christian refugees from Syria, there are smarter ways to deal with that. Apparently many Syrian Christians are afraid to register with the United Nations as refugees because they face persecution by the Muslim majority in U.N. refugee camps. There are groups in Syria that deal with Christian refugees, and enhancing their role - while not decreasing the role of the U.N. - would increase the numbers of Christian refugees without causing as many problems.

No matter what I say, many Trump supporters won't be convinced. They'll think Trump is playing "fifth dimension chess" or similar nonsense. The way to resolve that is to discredit their leaders who support Trump's plans, by correctly pointing out that those leaders are enabling ISIS and aren't blocking potential terrorists from most countries. Those who support Trump's plans are in fact weak on terrorism.

[1] thesun . co . uk/news/2731788/iran-indonesia-foreign-minister-trump-muslim-ban-fuel-terrorism/