Speech by Meredith Aby-Keirstead, member of the Anti-War Committee, on June 29, 2017 at our protest against Trump’s Muslim ban at the US Federal Building in Minneapolis.
We are here today to protest the recent action on Trump’s racist Muslim Ban. Due to Monday’s Supreme Court ruling today part of his Islamaphobic travel ban is being enacted and the Court will hear oral arguments about it in October.
We in the Anti-War Committee don’t see the issue of the racist Muslim ban as a domestic policy, but rather as an extension of the US War on Terror. US sponsored warfare is the reason these 6 Muslim majority countries are being targeted. In addition, while the Trump administration is making it more difficult for refugees to flee US foreign policy he is actually INCREASING the conflicts in these countries. For example:
Syria: Trump promised on the campaign trail to “bomb the s$%! out of ISIS” in Syria and since taking office he has certainly done that. He fired 23 cruise missiles, is sending 400 more troops to Syria, and has declared war on everyone in Syria including the president. The US has shot down a Syrian jet flying over Syrian airspace and now Russia has cut off air coordination in Syria.
Somalia: The Mint Press reported this week, “U.S. airstrikes in Somalia have killed over 400 people in the last eight years as part of a quiet war on ‘terrorism.’ Parts of the country have been designated as ‘active war zones,’ allowing for more strikes to take place with little to no oversight.”
Yemen: The Washington Post reported this week, “In Yemen, the United States is escalating its direct and indirect support for the Saudi air assault that is leveling that impoverished country. As fighting intensifies, civilian casualties and refugees are rising, more and more are driven from their homes, and hunger and deadly diseases such as cholera are spreading as health systems break under the strain. Seventeen million Yemenis suffer from lack of food, while a cholera epidemic infects another child every 35 seconds.”
Iran: Repeatedly since becoming commander in chief Trump has threatened military confrontation with Iran. In fact that was a theme throughout his presidential tours of the Middle East. In addition the US has bombed Iranian supported militia forces fighting ISIS in Syria.
It is criminal for the U.S. to bomb and attack other countries and then turn away refugees when the U.S. has destroyed their homelands! It is outrageous for Trump, backed by the approval of the Supreme Court, to consider doing this while at the same time expand the bombings and killings in these same countries!
Trump, since the campaign trail, has painted the Middle East and Muslims in general as “terrorists” and this anti-Muslim rhetoric and this racist travel ban are legitimizing the increase in hate crimes and hate speech against our Muslim neighbors. We cannot be silent in the face of this bigotry!
It’s also important to note that one country, Iraq, where the US has been at war since 1991 (my senior year of high school!) was on the original Muslim ban but was taken off it Trump’s attempts to make it look less discriminatory. It wasn’t removed because the Trump administration had a change of heart, but rather because the US made a back room deal to deport Iraqis without the ban. Reuters reported the same day as the Supreme Court announcement that a federal judge halted the deportation of all Iraqi nationals detained during immigration sweeps across the US this month. The ACLU filed a lawsuit and has argued that deported Iraqis could face persecution, torture, or death when they are forced to return. The Anti-War Committee also stands with the Iraqi community and demands amnesty for all Iraqis who want to stay!
We are here today to say NO not only to Trump’s racist Muslim ban but also to send a message to the US Supreme Court. There is a real danger the Court will uphold all or part of the ban as a legitimate use of presidential authority. Only protests can prevent that from happening, or undo it if it does happen. Remember it was protests, not legal argument, that stopped the administration from implementing its discriminatory travel ban this year!
Too many people share a faith in the legitimacy and objectivity of the Supreme Court and believe that the Constitution is a super hero that will save us from injustice. But this faith is misplaced. The justices are not neutral umpires and above politics. They are part of the elite – just the same way that Congress is – and we must organize to influence their understanding of this critical issue.
We have done this before. The Supreme Court has recently made multiple progressive rulings on the rights of queer people. They did this not because the Court became more enlightened or because their understanding of the Constitution changed, but rather because we had public opinion on our side. We need to do that again!
Join with us to demand: No Ban, No Bombs, No Wars!!