A Fascist Apparatus Is in Place to Round Up Muslims
December 24, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Protest at the Justice Department in Washington D.C. against Trump's threatened registration of Muslims, December 12. Photo: @Nina_0421/Twitter.
In the wake of the December 19 Berlin attack, before any concrete information about who was responsible for the attack came out, Trump reaffirmed his plans for creating a registry of Muslims in the U.S., immediately banning Muslims from entering the U.S., deporting many Muslim immigrants, and more. Trump has made demonizing Muslims a core element of his plans for the presidency, including bringing into the core of his presidency fanatic generals who believe in a Christian war against Islam.
If the Trump-Pence fascist regime is allowed to take power, such plans and worse will in fact be carried out. The legal basis and the machinery to do this are already in place, and have been so since steps taken by the U.S. in the wake of 9/11.
The National Security Exit-Entry Registration System: Registration of Muslims
Trump said: “You know my plans” and “All along, I’ve been proven to be right. One hundred percent correct,” when asked on December 21 about plans for registering Muslims and banning Muslim immigrants.
The National Security Exit-Entry Registration System (NSEERS) was initiated in 2002 to target people in the U.S. who came from 25 predominantly Muslim countries. NSEERS required mandatory registration of immigrants from these countries. Strict penalties were imposed for failure to register or for late registration.
According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, “In the wake of NSEERS, more than 13,000 men who complied with the program faced deportation charges. Families were torn apart, small businesses in immigrant neighborhoods closed their doors, and students discarded their educational aspirations.”
Most ominously, NSEERS created a national database of names, addresses, family members, and contact information on immigrants. This was information that could be used to carry out massive roundups and deportations.
The U.S. government claims it stopped enforcing NSEERS in 2011. In fact, what was done was to remove the 25 predominantly Muslim countries from the list of countries being monitored, while leaving the structure intact. On December 22 this year, President Obama announced he was ordering a dismantling of the NSEERS program, in order to slow Trump’s promised registration of all Muslims in the United States. This is the same Obama who has been rightly called the “Deporter in Chief” for deporting a record-breaking number of people from the U.S. during his presidency.
Trump adviser Kris Kobach helped design and implement the original NSEERS program while working for the George W. Bush administration. On November 15, Kobach said that the reinstatement of this program is a possible recommendation he might make to Trump once he takes office.
People of Japanese descent lined up to be taken to the concentration camp at Gila River, Ariz., 1942. (Photo: Clem Albers/National Archives)
While NSEERS may have been stopped, for now, the fact is that the U.S. government already has developed and put into effect other ways to investigate and track people coming into the U.S. According to the New York Times, the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security had already called for NSEERS to be ended in 2012, saying, “Information obtained from fingerprints, flight manifests, travel and identification documents and intelligence sources is more valuable in determining who poses a potential national security risk.”
One of Trump’s most vocal fascist supporters, Congressman Peter King of New York, has called for the federal government to create a program similar to one that was put in place in New York City in 2006. According to the Huffington Post, “Officers in the since-disbanded Demographics Unit [of the NYPD] infiltrated Muslim student groups, kept track of Muslims who changed their last names, eavesdropped on conversations between Muslims, spied on Muslim-owned businesses, recorded imams’ sermons, and put undercover officers and informants inside mosques.”
Profiling, Mass Roundups, Disappearances
“We did it during World War II with Japanese.”—Carl Higbe, head of the pro-Trump PAC Great America, on Fox News The Kelly Files, November 16, 2016, referring to the internment of more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans during World War 2.
After the September 11, 2001, attacks, the government moved swiftly to erect an apparatus of detentions, surveillance, and public slander of Muslim people in the country. A systematic program of racial and ethnic profiling was begun. Before the end of 2001, more than 1,000 Muslim men were rounded up without charges and detained by federal authorities.
Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft justified these roundups, saying, “Foreign terrorists who commit war crimes against the United States, in my judgment, are not entitled to and do not deserve the protections of the American Constitution.” And who is a terrorist? Anyone the government declares is a terrorist.
One of these men was Mohammed Rafiq Butt, who had come to New York to work and send money back to his children in Pakistan. The FBI arrested him when neighbors called in a “tip” and turned him over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) on September 20, 2001. Never charged with a crime, he was held on a visa violation and ordered deported. He died in a New Jersey jail on October 24. Other prisoners told Butt’s relatives that he had complained of chest pains for two days, but officials refused to take him to the hospital. The INS claimed Butt had a heart attack and refused to release information about his death to Human Rights Watch, telling the group they must produce a document signed by Butt consenting to release the information! Rafiq Butt’s cousin said that an autopsy performed in Pakistan revealed marks on his body, suggesting he had been subjected to severe torture before his death. The coroner found multiple fractures in Rafiq Butt’s legs and chest, as well as deep bruises on his body.
The number of people detained in this wave of roundups grew to 5,000 within a few more months. People were picked up in the dead of night; grabbed off buses, trains, and planes; arrested based on anonymous “tips”; pulled from their cars at traffic stops; seized when their homes were raided by gun-wielding federal agents; saw their children being terrorized.
The U.S. government seized on the events of 9/11 to vilify, persecute, and terrorize a whole section of people based on the language they spoke, where they were born, the color of their skin, and the religion they practiced.
Trump said (February 17, 2016): “Torture works. OK, folks?... And waterboarding is your minor form. Some people say it’s not actually torture. Let’s assume it is. But they asked me the question: What do you think of waterboarding? Absolutely fine. But we should go much stronger than waterboarding.”
In the fall of 2001, Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other mainstream media outlets discussed the need for the government to use torture to extract information from Muslim “suspects.” The New York Times Magazine (October 27, 2002) questioned a senior law enforcement official in Washington about a detainee who threatened to kill himself after being held for months in solitary confinement. The official told them, “If your subject has a complete breakdown the barriers to resistance are lowered. Once a person is at that point, he has lost the will to deceive, and you can be pretty certain that he’s not lying.”
Patriot Act—Machinery of Massive Repression on Steroids
In late October 2001, the “USA Patriot Act” was rushed through Congress, and the law is still in effect. The Patriot Act established the legal basis for raids, roundups, disappearances, indefinite detentions without charges, official racial profiling, the denial of access to family and attorneys, charges based on secret evidence, trials before military tribunals, deportations, threats of the death penalty based on secret evidence, and more. Under this sweeping law, the president can designate individuals, including U.S. citizens, as “enemy combatants” who have no constitutional or human rights.
If the Trump-Pence regime is allowed to come to power, these repressive powers of the government will not just continue but will take horrible new leaps. They have made it clear they will “keep their promises”—as we have said, “not so much for ‘jobs’ but to viciously repress the masses of people and seriously threaten concentration camps and even an outright ‘fast’ genocide at some point, that they would ‘make America “white” again,’ so to speak through terrorizing, imprisoning, and expelling whole sections of people, racial and religious ‘minorities,’ as well as unleashing violence against women, gay people, and others who do not conform, and eviscerating any semblance of dissenting or even inquiring political and intellectual expression.” (See “Point of Orientation on the Struggle to Prevent the Trump-Pence Fascist Regime.”)
This poses an enormous challenge, which we must not fail to act on.
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“In 1939 we did not understand—we refused to believe—both out of ignorance and a desire not to see... If only we had realized; if only we had understood; if only we had been able to turn the historical tide back to the year 1939 we should have shouted ‘Revolt at once!’ For then we were at the height of our strength. Then we were possessed of vigor and self-respect.”
From the memoirs of Izhak Zuckerman, one of the few surviving leaders of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising against the Nazis
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