Trump’s “Alternative Facts” on Refugees vs. the Truth
The U.S. and Other Imperialist Powers Created 60 Million Refugees and Must Not Be Allowed to Demonize, Discriminate Against and Deport Them
January 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Friday, January 27, President Trump issued an executive order blocking all refugees from around the world from entering the U.S. for 120 days, and banning those from Syria indefinitely. He also suspended any immigration from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Syria, and Sudan—all Muslim majority countries—for 90 days. (See “Trump’s Executive Order Attacking Refugees: ‘Extreme Vetting’=Extreme Cruelty and Racism, with a Genocidal Logic”)
Trump’s Fascist “Alternative Facts” vs. Refugee Crisis Realities
Trump’s order claimed these steps were necessary “to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.” Trump warned that many could be “radical Islamic terrorists” who pose a danger to people in the U.S. He told ABC those being barred from coming into the U.S. were people who “are going to come in and cause us tremendous problems.” He declared: “You’re looking at people that come in, in many cases, in some cases with evil intentions. I don’t want that. They’re ISIS. They’re coming under false pretense. I don’t want that.”
These Trumpian “alternative facts” are naked lies. Refugees are not endangering people in the U.S. It’s the U.S. which is endangering tens of millions of people around the world, and is more responsible for the largest global refugee crisis in history than any other country on earth. And now Trump’s fascist regime is targeting and vilifying the victims in order to justify radically escalating this global humanitarian atrocity and outrage.
Over the past decade, a tsunami has been building, a tsunami of human beings now numbering some 42,500 every single day on average—forced to flee for their lives from war, terror, persecution, and increasingly environmental devastation, desperately seeking safety and shelter anywhere they can find it. This deluge of displacement has reached a total of over 60 million people. Half of them are children!
What do the overwhelming majority of these refugees—the 12 million Syrians, nearly four million Afghans, some five million Iraqis, and 15 million from Sub-Saharan Africa—have in common? They’re escaping regions where imperialism has made life hell, through decade after decade of exploitation and plunder, of backing torture regimes, and now more than 15 years of the so-called “war on terror”—in reality a war of imperialism. This war has taken the lives of millions directly or indirectly. It has fanned the flames of reactionary Islamic jihadist terror, which has created its own nightmares for the people. One major driver of the tidal wave of global refugees: the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, an illegitimate, criminal war based on lies. It led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, drove over 4 million from their homes, and turned Iraq into the birthplace of ISIS.
Refugees arrive by dinghy at the Greek island of Lesbos, 2015. AP photo
Droughts caused by global warming and climate change are also increasingly fueling global migration and refugees. The climate crisis is caused overwhelmingly by the United States and other imperialist powers, but its impacts are being felt most immediately and devastatingly in impoverished and oppressed countries, including North Africa and the Middle East. It is estimated that [between] “50 million and 200 million people — mainly subsistence farmers and fishermen — could be displaced by 2050 because of climate change.” (New York Times, 5/16/16)
These millions are desperately fleeing horrors that all too many Americans can’t (or refuse to) even imagine, for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. They’re carrying tiny children and whatever belongings they can carry, crossing parched deserts, dangerous borders, deadly combat zones, risking their lives in flimsy rubber rafts on the high seas, all to find shelter and sustenance – not commit acts of terrorism.
Refugees a danger? New York Times columnist Roger Cohen points out, “A Cato Institute study of refugees admitted to the United States between 1975 and 2015 found that the chance of an American being killed in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion”—in other words far, far, far less than the danger of being killed in an auto-accident or in a mass shooting by some deranged American—or murdered by some mad-dog cop.
These refugees are being demonized and dehumanized by the Trump fascists who are truly the sewer-dwelling scum of the earth. News outlets like Breitbart and InfoWars are spreading “fake news” that immigrants from the Middle East are spreading diseases, raping women, and threatening them with genital mutilation. All this has real parallels with how the Holocaust started—not immediately with concentration camps, but with lies—with the vilification and dehumanization of the Jewish people as vermin, as disease carriers, as anti-German radicals and communists, and more.
Trump-Pence: Making America’s Racist, Inhumane Refugee Stance Far, Far Worse
The Trump-Pence fascists claim that U.S. borders have been wide open to anyone and everyone—including “Islamic terrorists.” Another “alternative fact”/lie. The reality is that U.S. borders have never been wide open, including under Obama, but closed very tightly to the vast majority of humanity fleeing the wars, persecutions, and environmental horrors the U.S. has done the lion’s share in creating.
Of 5 million Syrian refugees, the U.S. took a mere 10,000 last year. Of the world’s 60 million refugees, most end up in relatively poor countries like Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. According to the New York Times, “One in four refugees now finds shelter in the world’s poorest countries, with Ethiopia and Kenya taking many more refugees than, say, Britain and France.” Think about this: the world’s capitalist powers have become wealthy by dominating and plundering the world’s poorest countries. Then when that poverty, war and oppression becomes impossible to survive and people flee for safe haven, those imperialist countries slam the door shut and force other impoverished countries to deal with the crisis.
Saturday night at airports across the U.S. we began to get a glimpse of the leaps in the targeting of whole populations being put in place by Trump-Pence. Suddenly with no warning, people with families in the Middle East were threatened with being divided forever, never being able to visit their relatives, or have their relatives visit the U.S. Students away on break couldn’t get back into the U.S. Even those who are green card holders—legal residents of the U.S.—were detained at least temporarily (some 375) if they were traveling from countries targeted by Trump. In other words, anyone from whole swaths of the Middle East who’s a Muslim is being targeted as a suspected terrorist—a cloud is cast over the whole population of nine million Muslims living in the U.S. (Many anti-Muslim hate crimes have already been reported across the U.S., the latest, a mosque in Victoria, Texas which had been the target of threats in the past, was burned to the ground on Saturday night.)
The Muslim Ban, the Fascist Remaking of America, and the Danger of War
All this is part of a broader, more deadly and sinister fascist remaking of the U.S. that Trump-Pence are trying to steamroller through. To take one dimension, Trump’s order discriminated against Muslims entering the U.S. and favored Christians. In other words, it imposed what’s called a “religious test” for entering the U.S. “The document does not explicitly mention any religion,” the New York Times stated in an editorial, “yet it sets a blatantly unconstitutional standard by excluding Muslims while giving government officials the discretion to admit people of other faiths”—in other words Christians.
(Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network that under past presidents, “If you were a Muslim you could come in [to the U.S.], but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible.” Yet another lie: “In fact, the United States accepts tens of thousands of Christian refugees,” the New York Times reports, “According to the Pew Research Center, almost as many Christian refugees (37,521) were admitted as Muslim refugees (38,901) in the 2016 fiscal year.”)
As revcom.us analyzes, the “religious test” inserted in his executive order is part of a broader fascist program: “Trump and the Christian theocrats in his cabinet of ghouls are out to forcefully impose an explicitly Christian identity on this country, and embed that in U.S. policy.” (See “Lives in the Balance...Which Will Win? Trump’s First Days: The Heavy Hand of Fascism and the Spark of Resistance”)
Trump is painting these refugees as suspected terrorists—until they can prove otherwise—and broadly painting the 200 plus million people living in the countries his executive order targeted, as well as the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims as terrorists as well, part of a “radical religion,” which his National Security Advisor Michael Flynn calls “a cancer.” And Flynn has made a point of targeting the Islamic Republic of Iran—one of the countries named in Trump’s executive order.
Ominously, as Trump directs his generals to prepare new military options in the Middle East, his executive order must also be seen as part of preparing the ground for escalating the U.S. slaughter – even genocide – of peoples in the Middle East and beyond in the name of “eradicating radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the earth.”
All this is further fueling and exacerbating the reactionary clash between outmoded imperialism and outmoded Islamic fundamentalism which has caused so much destitution, suffering and death across the region, especially since the U.S. launched its “war on terror” in 2001. In fact, if the aim was to intensify this contradiction, Trump couldn't have done better than his latest actions.
No Airport Business-As-Usual, and Driving Out Trump-Pence
On Saturday, beginning at New York’s JFK airport, then quickly mushrooming nationwide to airports in Houston, San Francisco, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago, Washington, DC, Portland, Newark, Seattle-Tacoma, Boston, San Diego, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles, people righteously disrupted airport business-as-usual to denounce and stop the Muslim and refugee ban. (Breitbart attacked the protests immediately with the blaring, “alternative fact” headline: “Terror-Tied Group CAIR Causing Chaos, Promoting Protests & Lawsuits, as Trump Protects Nation.”)
These were very important actions – and showed the broad potential to quickly mobilize many thousands. But Trump’s executive order is still in place, his regime is still in power and aggressively defending its actions and fighting forward. So there’s a great need for people (especially those who are not Muslims and not from the Middle East) to continue to stand up for those being targeted, to spread this struggle to more people and more places, and to build this as part of a movement of millions saying NO!, and determined to drive the illegitimate Trump-Pence regime from power.
How Would a Humane, Emancipatory Society Deal With Refugees?
The U.S.’s barbaric, inhumane treatment of those around the world in the greatest need of help, raises the question – what’s the alternative? What would be a humane way to deal with the displacement of millions?
Answer: with exactly the opposite goals, methods, culture and morality than that of the Trump-Pence regime – which is an extreme expression of the essential nature of U.S. capitalism-imperialism.
There is no way the United States could ever make up for or repay the masses for the death, destruction, and suffering it has caused them all over the world, including now in particular the countries it has devastated of North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
Even a genuine revolutionary socialist state could not make full restitution for the centuries of horrors the United States has inflicted on people. But a revolutionary socialist state on the road to communism would work and struggle to overcome the scars that this imperialist monstrosity has left on the world and its people. Such a state would be coming from a whole different standpoint and would move to make huge changes so that such horrors were stopped, and a world brought into being where they could never happen again. Such a revolutionary state would put the world, and the revolutionary emancipation of all humanity first—not “my country.” And not holding onto any form of oppression or privileged position vis-a-vis other peoples or countries.
Among many other things, such a state would not intensify the plunder, military conquest, and environmental destruction that are driving the refugee crisis in the world today, but move to end them as part of uprooting the capitalist-imperialist system these horrors spring from. And its immediate orientation, in foreign relations, culture, education, morality and economic decision-making would be to support and assist people around the world fighting oppression, and to build a society which puts humanity first, not America.
This is not a dream—it is real, and realizable, and laid out in tremendous detail in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian and adopted by the Revolutionary Communist Party. Today, everyone should join in and strengthen the inspiring resistance now being waged around the country against the Trump-Pence regime’s fascist ban; and as we do so, we should also be wrangling over what it would take to truly get beyond a world of such horrors.
American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People’s Lives!
—Bob Avakian, BAsics 5:7
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