With all the screaming the media have been doing over the last couple of days, it might be a bit difficult for those who don’t follow politics obsessively (in other words, normal people) to figure out what the hell is going on. “Did Trump really just ban Muslims from coming into the country?” they might be asking. “Is he even allowed to do that? And is this going to torpedo that vacation I was planning in Mogadishu next summer?”
If we still had a functioning news media, they might be able to sort through the blizzard of tweets, headlines and Facebook screeds and tell Joe Sixpack exactly where all this stands–but rather than just reporting the facts and letting folks make up their own minds, the media have decided to muddy the waters yet again with half-baked analysis masquerading as journalism. But hey, when clicks and outrage are your primary measure of success, who cares if the public is actually informed?
Well, if you care to know the truth, you should prepare yourself for a shocker.
There. Is. No. Muslim. Ban.
Much like the media did when they reported that George W. Bush had banned federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, they have now conflated a reasonable compromise measure–in this case, restrictions on travel for people who come from regions of the world largely populated by fanatics who want to kill us–with a blanket violation of civil liberties. To wit, the Trump administration’s executive order restricting travel to the United States only applies to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, not to all Muslims all across the world. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Anyone who tries to confuse you on that point is lying. And anyone who says that this sort of thing is unprecedented is L-Y-I-N-G.
President Obama did the same thing when he suspended travel for Iraqis back in 2011–a sensible precaution given the security situation there. (What was unconscionable, though, was when he banned Cuban refugees from entering the U.S just before he skipped out of office, all so he could make nice with Raul Castro.). Jimmy Carter, meanwhile, suspended travel for Iranians during the hostage crisis–again, a presidential prerogative, justified by events at the time.
All this is not to say that the Trump administration is blameless here. Much like Steven Spielberg said of his movie 1941 (“It looked good on paper.”), the flaw was in the execution rather than the intent. A clear lack of guidance from the White House on how the order was to be carried out by the various different federal agencies involved created (as Sir Topham Hatt would say) a lot of confusion and delay. Green card holders were needlessly detained at airports across the country, subjecting them to inconvenience and humiliation.
Plainly, decisions as to the implementation of this order were politically calculated. But while political reasons can and should be taken into acount when making policy, they shouldn’t be the primary consideration. There is also the practical impact of policy–and in this case, the chaos ended up overshadowing the necessary and desirable changes in the order. Next time around, I would suggest that the president have his people in the agencies huddle with his political advisers for a little while before giving an order like this.
President Trump might also consider explaining personally why he’s doing what he’s doing. Again and again, he proved on the campiagn trail his ability to connect with his audience. Perhaps if he had made some short, prepared remarks to the nation ahead of signing this order, there would have been more room to make corrections before everything hit the fan. Trump shouldn’t depend upon surrogates to do what he can accomplish so well himself.
By that same token, however, those of us on the Right shouldn’t overreact. We should know by now that no matter what Donald Trump does, no matter how innocuous, the Democrat/media complex are going to scream Hitler and try to steal the narrative. We shouldn’t let them do that by going wobbly. Rather, as has been pointed out here before, we need to call balls and strikes fairly–offering reasoned criticism when warranted, and praise when things go right.
Remember that this is only the beginning.