Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Yet another test of what kind of country this is


Today the Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether to uphold President Trump's Muslim Ban 3.0. Though somewhat more carefully drawn than previous versions, this executive order essentially blocks entry into the United States by most people from the Muslim-majority countries of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The government says they are acting to keep out people who threaten our security. But Trump hasn't been shy about saying that he'd really like "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." Just before issuing this version of the ban, he tweeted that the restrictions "should be far larger, tougher and more specific - but stupidly that would not be politically correct!"

It remains to be seen whether this Court wants to make the country party to ugly religious bigotry by affirming Trump's ban.

Meanwhile Muslims in this country live within a climate of increasing threat. The Council on American-Islamic Relation's annual civil rights report documented

a 17 percent increase in anti-Muslim bias incidents nationwide in 2017 over 2016. This was accompanied by a 15 percent increase in hate crimes targeting American Muslims, including children, youth, and families, over the same period.

Of particular alarm is the fact that federal government agencies instigated 35 percent of all anti-Muslim bias incidents recorded in 2017. This represents an almost unprecedented level of government hostility toward a religious minority within the United States, and is counter to the American value of religious freedom.

What's it like for US Muslims these days? Too much of this:
  • Virginia: “It just feels like a nightmare. Just a bad dream and we’re gonna wake up from it,” said an American Muslim couple whose apartment was broken into and vandalized while they were out of state visiting family. They received a call about the break-in and returned home to find “f*** Muslims” written on the wall, their Quran torn to shreds, and all their valuables gone."
  • California: Two American Muslims who were cousins were held at gunpoint by an automotive body repair shop employee. The employee made several derogatory comments, including “go back to Afghanistan,” “all you [people] are alike,” and “get out of our country.” He then pulled out a gun and accosted the two American Muslim customers.
  • Michigan: An American Muslim family had their children taken by Child Protective Services. They requested that the children be placed in an American Muslim family’s home but were told that none were available. The children were instead placed with a strictly practicing Christian family. The American Muslim family was threatened with complete separation from their children if they refused to consent to their children attending church services with the foster family.
  • Ohio:The U.S. government denied a Muslim man, married to an American Muslim U.S. citizen, an immigrant visa for nine years. During the course of their unusually delayed application process, the couple had four children together and the Muslim applicant missed an opportunity to accept a full scholarship to earn his doctoral degree in psychology at an American university. This caused extreme hardship to his family. The U.S. Consulate refused to provide the couple with any reason for the visa delay, other than to state that it was in “administrative processing.” CAIR Ohio’s Columbus chapter filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. Consequently, the Consulate was compelled to grant the man his immigrant visa. In December 2017, he was able to join his wife and children in the U.S. after a nine-year wait.
  • Oregon: Vandals spray painted “ISIS” in large red letters on the walls of the Abu Bakar Islamic Center in Portland. New Jersey: The Islamic Center of Passaic County received a spate of eight phone calls containing death threats over the course of 24 hours. The callers used profane language and stated they would kill the attendees and “burn [the] mosque down.”
Globalization, an interconnected world where cultures and faiths and social structures meet and sometimes collide, is scary. It's also here, a fact. Freedom of (and freedom from) religion is one of the pillars that can made a global society work. No wall can roll back the global reality. In its better moments, this country has held up religious freedom as a core principle. Is that true today?

1 comment:

Rain Trueax said...

It's a zombie apocalypse and worse than the atrocities you mentioned are happening because of it-- knifing and shooting strangers or using a van to mow shoppers down. Definitely zombies... and I am only partly kidding.

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