Trump’s Executive Order Attacking Refugees

“Extreme Vetting”=Extreme Cruelty and Racism, with a Genocidal Logic

January 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


Today Donald Trump signed an executive order that all-but-openly brands all Muslims as “terrorists” unless they can prove they are not, and then treats them as criminals who will be denied even the most basic acts of humanity, such as providing refuge to people seeking safety and sustenance for themselves and their children. And he launched a criminal attack on refugees from the non-Muslim world as well.

  • Trump’s order completely halts, for an indefinite period, all refugees from Syria, a country devastated by a civil war which the U.S. (and its close allies) has helped fuel by supporting and arming different groups and factions that it hopes will advance its interests there. Five million Syrians, including hundreds of thousands of children, have fled the carnage. And many of these refugees risk—or lose—their lives in small craft on the high seas, others wait endlessly in vast and desolate refugee camps in other countries, still others on the run in Europe, seeking someplace to rebuild their lives.
  • The order also puts a 90-day ban (subject to extension at Trump’s whim) on any immigration or refugee admissions from seven predominantly Muslim countries—Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan—but seems to make an exception for Christians fleeing those countries.
  • The order also puts a 120-day freeze on refugees entering the U.S. from any country in the world.
  • The order also says that once the U.S. starts to admit refugees from around the world again, it will prioritize Christians over Muslims.

This order (signed on International Holocaust Remembrance Day) immediately evoked the shameful memory of how the U.S. refused to accept Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi genocide during World War 2, turning ships away from its ports and sending thousands back to die in Hitler’s gas chambers.

In fact, U.S. immigration and refugee policies have always been quite racist and cold-blooded. In the case of Syria, the U.S. was taking a relatively tiny number of refugees even before Trump’s order. (The U.S. settled 10,000 Syrians last year; Canada, with one-ninth the population of the U.S., took 35,000.) And Obama carried out a policy of imprisoning whole families of refugees from Central America.


But Trump is going much further in slamming the door on desperate people, and in “modeling,” feeding on and whipping up a heartless spirit of narrow-minded selfishness and ugly American chauvinism—the outlook that it doesn’t matter how many other people suffer and die, all that matters is the safety and comfort of Americans. “From now on, America First,” he bellowed at his inauguration, and he is only beginning to show us the horrors that those words foretold.

Even more ominous is the genocidal demonization of all Muslims that this order embodies. “We don’t want them here,” Trump said today in defending the order. He pretended to be speaking of “Islamic terrorists,” but quite plainly he was referring to all Muslim people—and taking the first major leap to fulfilling his campaign threat to ban all Muslims from entry to the U.S.

The order references terrorist incidents in the U.S. apparently carried out by people who had emigrated from Muslim countries. Horrible though these incidents were, they are a minuscule part of the massive violence in the U.S., and the even vaster violence on a world scale. Roger Cohen, writing in the New York Times, cited a study showing that a person in the U.S. has a 1-in-3.64 billion chance of being killed in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee.

And of course, the order does not mention white-supremacist terrorist acts like Dylan Roof’s killing of nine Black people in a church, Christian fundamentalist terrorists who bomb abortion clinics and kill doctors, or the rising tide of violent hate attacks on Muslims (as well as Blacks, Latinos and Jews) by people who are “inspired” by Trump to go out and terrorize innocent people.

And still less does it mention the unholy terror that the U.S. has rained down on the Middle East for decades, killing millions of people, destroying the social and economic structure of several countries, and creating the situation in which millions of people from that region are forced to flee for their lives (and also the conditions in which a small minority of Muslim people get drawn into Islamic jihadism).

But this reality is no barrier to Trump whipping up racist fear and hatred of “Muslim terrorists.” And this racism has a logic and a direction. If all Muslims from the Middle East are “suspected terrorists,” then what about the Muslims already here? Doesn’t the logic of this order say that they too need to prove themselves innocent before they can be trusted? And then, what to do with them “until” they have passed whatever racist tests the fascists devise for them?

This order will immediately lead to more suffering and death for hundreds of thousands of refugees, and the logic behind it will lead to even more barbaric attacks on people in Muslim countries, and potentially to genocidal attacks on Muslims here. And it will in turn give strength and encouragement to similar fascist and anti-immigrant forces in Europe, including in governments, where millions of people who are seeking refuge are facing barbed wire and heavily policed borders, police sweeps on their settlement camps, and attacks from racist mobs.

Trump’s order and the toxic outlook and orientation it represents must be opposed with fearless determination by people of all faiths and nationalities, from now forward.


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