Speech by Misty Rowan, member of the Anti-War Committee, at the MN Peace Action Coalition protest on October 7th, 2017
On the anniversary of the start of the Afghanistan war, we are gathered here to protest it’s stark continuation. This day was also supposed to be the eve of a very important U.S. Supreme Court case hearing regarding Trump’s Muslim ban, which was to begin on Oct 10th. The courts have already struck down the last version for being openly racist and anti-Muslim. So the Trump administration wrote a new one, altering it slightly in an attempt to sell it as anything but blatant, and unconstitutional discrimination.
I think about those 16 years that have passed, and it seems to me that a lot has changed, but also little has. I remember the dread that marked the beginning of the war on terror. Even as a teenager, who had a lot of learning yet to do, I knew what it would mean bad things for this country to go to war. As a nation, we were still reeling from the attacks on 9/11, but also from the widely contested election of George Dubbya Bush. And shouts of false patriotism were demanding that we “stand behind the president” instead of asking why the person with the most popular votes was not picked by the system.
We knew immediately that the cost would be astronomical, both in terms of dollars and resources, and in terms of lives lost (“theirs” and “ours”). We saw a rise in hate crimes. We knew that there would be an attack on our basic freedoms in this country, that Muslim communities would be targeted and illegally tracked, that activists would be silenced, that airports would become like military checkpoints, that deportations would increase exponentially, and we knew that we would be expected to submit to all of this in the name of national security. And now, 16 years later, it feels like we have realized the worst of all of these fears. And yet, are we any safer?
With no end in sight, this war has caused more casualties than 100 9/11s, and our constant drone bombing of civilians overseas has helped to create the conditions for extremists groups like ISIL to proliferate. The abundance of military equipment being bought by US police departments has lead to a sharp rise in them then using those weapons to kill innocent civilians here at home. And that was under Obama! Now we have Donald Trump as our president – whose every action, executive order, and tweet is an embarrassment or an attack.
This Muslim ban 3.0 is yet another dangerous extension of the hatred we have seen spewing out of this administration. And it doesn’t make any logical sense. It doesn’t even fit their narrative for going to war. If we are so humanitarian in our efforts over there, shouldn’t we be welcoming these people with open arms? Because the truth is, the US creates more refugees than we could ever take in. To then slam the door in their face because our president hates everyone who is different than him, and then call that national security is horrid. It’s criminal. 16 years ago, it was an off color joke to say “If we allow fill-in-the-blank to happen, the terrorists have already won” Well, it isn’t very funny anymore, is it?
So, greet the new ban, same as the old ban. Which is to say, with fierce resistance. The people affected by this are not “terrorists”, they are the ones we are supposedly trying to save. These people aren’t “”unknowns” they are family members, and friends, and they are human beings (who must go through an already rigorous vetting process despite what our ignorant president says). Do not be confused (or allow them to confuse the issue) because of the adding of North Korea or Venezuela to the ban. The Trump administration thinks they can control the actions of governments by restricting the movements of people. It is absolutely wrong, and it cannot be allowed to stand. They think we are stupid, and that we have a short attention span. It is up to us to prove them wrong. It is on us to fight this, and win. Because the truth is, the last ban was xenophobic trash, and the new one is just as transparent. Shame on the president. And shame on the members of Congress, and their mouth piece media outlets who support it. We need everyone to stand up and say #NoMuslimBanEver. If you are not already involved in this effort, please make sure you get this flyer announcing our week of actions against the Muslim ban for next week.