Speech by Anti-War Committee member, Meredith Aby-Keirstead, on 1/20/2018 at our protest to mark the 1 year anniversary of Donald Trump taking office.
Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court announced they will hear arguments concerning Trump’s 3rd attempt at his Muslim Ban in spring. Trump’s racist Muslim ban is one example of the bigotry of the first year of his administration but it also represents the power of our grassroots action!
In the past 12 months Trump has tried 3 times to ban travelers from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US. Not only is this discriminatory, it is an effort by Trump to directly target countries which have already suffered immensely from US military intervention under the auspices of the War on Terror. The president claims that terrorism is why citizens from these countries should be treated differently – when in fact it is US terrorism that has created the very levels of instability that his lawyers use to justify discriminatory US immigration policy. It is immoral to bomb, occupy and destabilize other countries and then block the very refugees that US policy is creating!
Another fact that unites the 8 countries together under Muslim Ban 3.0 is US intervention. All of these countries are facing refugee crises which the US is aggravating, are facing US warfare or are being threatened with US warfare.
In Syria the 7 year-long conflict has created 11.5 million refugees and internally displaced persons. There are 2,000 American troops in Syria and US has indicated that it has zero intention of leaving. US military intervention is fanning the flames of war in Syria which continues to prolong the conflict.
The US backed Saudi coalition conducts a brutal bombing campaign in Yemen which has decimated the Arab world’s poorest nation. More than 10,000 people have been killed, disease is proliferating, and millions are facing famine.
In 2011 the US helped France topple the government of Libya and since then there has not been stability in the country. There are between 700,000 to one million Libyan refugees and they are among the most vulnerable groups in the context of the international humanitarian refugee crisis. The instability in Libya has had a ripple effect throughout the Middle East and Africa.
The Trump administration has more than doubled the number of U.S. troops in Somalia this year, putting them at the highest level since 1993. Under Obama and Trump, the Pentagon has quietly increased its drone operations in Somalia. MN is home to the largest Somali community in the US and our sisters and brothers are now not able to be reunited with their family members who are in refugee camps.
The US has had thousands of troops do military exercises in Chad and the Air Force conducts surveillance mission on neighboring Nigeria from Chad. Chad has emerged as one of the most important hosts of refugees in the region, with nearly 400,000 refugees living in the country, including many who have fled from the Darfur region of Sudan.
Trump has targeted Iran not because it has a large refugee problem but because he wants to demonize Iran. His recent efforts to break the Iran nuclear deal show that Trump wants to jeopardize any attempt for negotiations with North Korea and to demonstrate that the US is an untrustworthy negotiator.
Trump added North Korea and Venezuela in his 3rd attempt to implement his racist ban and these countries are also connected by US imperialism to the other countries. It is important to not let the fact that these countries are not predominately Muslim to confuse us. North Korea and Venezuela are on the ban as window dressing in order to attempt to make Trump’s policy appear as less racist than before. This is very much indeed a Muslim ban and these countries were targeted because they are in the cross hairs of the US military like Syria, Somalia and Iran. Iran, North Korea and Venezuela are all on the travel ban list in an effort to punish them for resisting US imperialism.
It is important to note that while Trump has tried to use immigration policy to promote his racist, pro-war agenda he has had a lot of trouble doing so. Time after time WE were in the streets saying that these refugees were welcome in the US and the courts were forced to strike down his bans. Trump was not able to make his racist Muslim ban the simple decree that he wanted and instead a year into his presidency it is still an issue being debated in the courts.
While there is broad agreement that Trump’s first year is a disaster it is important that as the anti-war movement and as anti-racist activists we challenge our friends and peers to realize that racist policies like Trump’s Muslim ban, his canceling of DACA, and his attempts to start a nuclear war on Twitter are grounds for removing him from office. Trump Out Now!