The Art Of Speaking Past The Issue
Republican leaders have, somewhat embarrassingly, joined President Trump in denouncing the Federal Court stay of his travel ban against 7 majority Muslim countries. One can almost hear these GOP leaders saying “here we go again”.
Clearly the President has the authority to deny entry to America based upon national security considerations. And for sure there are precedents. Do you remember how the country was made safe when Yusuf Islam was denied entry by the Bush Administration? There is just no telling how much damage Cat Stevens could have done if he had not been denied entry after the 9/11 attacks.
The Bush Administration’s actions which limited “free speech” contribution from the English singer was condemned by many but not contested as unlawful. The President, wisely or not, was acting as he thought best for the national security.
The Trump Administration claims it is acting similarly, for national security. In a holier than thou tone, Administration officials stress the chief executive has vast authority over the borders. These spokespersons emphasize that the ban in temporary and within the traditional Presidential powers. Hmmm.
Maybe but maybe not.
The Constitution’s first Amendment precludes the use of a religious test as the basis of excluding any foreign visitor or immigrant. But wait, Trump’s people say this ban is about “terrorists”. And what religion do terrorists in these countries have?
As I recall, Donald Trump, the candidate, made a point of emphasizing “radical Islamic terrorists”. How can one minute someone be a terrorist (radical Islamic terrorists) and not the next minute also be a Muslim?
In addition to this paper thin rouge claiming terrorist were not a religious test, the ban blew right by another principle, “due process”. All the people coming from these 7 countries had US approved visas. What process was used to determine the visas were defective?
The ban is patently a “Trump Whistle” designed to prove at least two points. First, Trump supporters can count on him to fulfill his campaign promises (as dubious as some may be). Second, as chief executive, Trump will not be restrained by past practices, political norms, or Constitutional constraints without a fight.
Once again, the public must keep both eyes on the President. It is inconceivable that the bogus justifications for the ban are in and of themselves important.
What is not inconceivable is that the ban can serve to prove “Trump can do it” and “now you see it, now you don’t” on some other issue the Administration will try to slip by the public’s attention.
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