Category Archives: Immigration

Trump: The Muslim Ban and the Lessons of History

The presidential directive under Donald Trump, generally referred to as extreme vetting and/or the Muslim Ban, is examined in the context of its rationale being that of security. Its opponents suggest it was poorly planned and executed and in its implementation has the likelihood of major human rights violations and being unconstitutional.

This post and its associated white paper suggest that the lessons of history were ignored and how those lessons might have provided caution and guidance if the president was an avid student of history. Four examples of how concerns for security in the U.S. and North America led to extreme measures which in the historical aftermath were universally decried by historians and citizenry in general because of their catastrophic impact on human rights.

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

George Santayana

Our new President has been quoted as receiving much of his information from television. The consensus understanding is that, unlike many of his predecessors in the Presidency, he is poorly read on history. A famous quote from the philosopher George Santayana is: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” This admonition could well apply to our new president as the U.S. faces protests internally and all over the World regarding what is interpreted as a ban on Muslims entering the U. S. While the president disagrees that his recent executive order is a Muslim Ban, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani is quoted as saying that Trump tasked him to charter a commission to determine how a Muslim ban could be legally implemented. This has been widely viewed as putting a sheen of acceptance on a policy that otherwise has been interpreted, both in the U.S. and overseas, as a Muslim ban. The President’s executive order is designed as a security measure, the opposition cites it as being unconstitutional and in essence a violation of human rights.

Similar actions in our history provide the history lessons that our President might have been influenced by were he an avid reader. The current day Americans decry the roundup of the ethnic Japanese and their forced internment in WWII. They also decry the turn away of the shipload of 900 European Jews in 1939, which led to the eventual death of 264 of those turned away in the Holocaust. One should also mention the plight of the Native Americans in the Trail of Tears as 20,000 were illegally marched westward at gunpoint from their ancestral homes in Georgia, with one fourth dying in the journey and countless others dying later from the upheaval. Like the current one, this historical event was an example of a clash between presidential action and the courts.

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