Is There Hypocrisy In The Muslim Ban Protests?
Ever since President Trump signed the executive order, there have been mass protests across the country regarding the “Muslim ban.” The right however, have begun to accuse the Democrats of hypocrisy, calling out the left for not protesting when Obama banned Iraqi immigrants in 2011.
Additionally, the seven countries on Trump's ban list came from a list of countries that are possible terrorist threats, composed by the Obama administration. Clearly these are countries harboring possible terrorists, who happen to have a Muslim majority.
Are these claims true? Well, we’re about to get into the area of “technical truth.”
In May 2011, two Iraqi refugees were arrested and charged with terrorism, after discovering that before being granted asylum, they were bomb makers who had targeted US soldiers.
This obviously caused people to get angry and say that we should stop taking Iraqi refugees. So, the Obama administration pledged instead to reexamine the 58,000 Iraqis who had already been settled in the United States, and institute stricter background checks on incoming refugees. This enhanced screening process slowed down the immigration process to a point where even Iraqis who had helped during the war, were having trouble with entry.
Despite how horrible some of that is, immigration from Iraq was never halted. The changing of the screening process created a backlog causing a third of the normal amount of Iraqi immigrants to settle in America. But, unlike Trump’s ban, it was in direct response to an apparent weakness in the vetting process. Additionally, it never stopped immigration, though it did slow it down significantly.
Now let’s talk about Obama’s list of countries that are a terrorist threat.
In 1986, the Visa Waiver Program was created. This allowed people traveling from select countries to come to the US for 90 days without a visa. It is important to note that the seven countries now banned, were not included.
Fast-forward to 2011, congress is trying to pass a budget and keep the government in operation. One of the bills attached to the budget was H.R. 158 or Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. This bill, stated that anyone eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, would lose that eligibility if they had visited Iraq, Syria, or “any country of concern.” These people would still be allowed to travel to the United States, however they would have to get a travel visa like everyone else. Later, Obama would add the five other countries, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. If you held dual citizenship in any of these countries, you would also have to get a visa.
Here is an important note: nothing changed for the seven countries on the “watch list.” They needed to get visas before and after, and the vetting process for them was much more strenuous. What the bill changed was if someone had visited those seven countries from 2011 and onward, they would need to get a travel visa to be allowed into the United States, no matter what country they were from.
If Trump had made these actions would Democrats have called it Islamophobic? Very likely. However, the change is slight enough that Democrats could still rationalize it as a security issue.
Now, if you are a Republican reading this, you’re probably rolling your eyes, and rightfully so. I can come up with a thousand excuses and explanations for democrats, and utter the phrase, “well technically” until my face turns blue.
The truth is they screwed up.
The Democrats allowed their ideals to be compromised. Whether it was because they were worried about their safety, or were just picking their political battles, Democrats opened the door for Trump’s policies to be made.
That being said, does that mean that now, they can’t protest? Maybe you’re right, and Democrats allowed the Obama administration to get away with too much, but does that mean they have to do the same now?
Trump has stopped immigration from several countries, despite the extreme vetting they already go through, under the pretense of terrorism. This is an idea that not just Democrats disagree with, and although it is wholly constitutional, many wouldn’t consider it in the spirit of what America stands for.
So, if people want to make their voice heard now, it doesn’t matter whether or not they should have spoken earlier, what matters is that they have now woken up to the issues, and can maybe create the change they desire.
Mother Teresa said it best: “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
Sources for further reading: