Email #101, Subject: “keep America safe”?

“I think Islam hates us.”

That’s what the President told CNN last year. When asked whether he meant Islam or only “radical Islam,” he said:

“It’s very hard to separate. Because you don’t know who’s who.”

Those are the kinds of statements that got him elected. But now they are the statements that are undermining his presidency.

When US District Court Judge Derrick Watson struck down the President’s revised immigration ban, he cited the CNN interview. Watson wrote:

“These plainly-worded statements, made in the months leading up to and contemporaneous with the signing of the Executive Order, and, in many cases, made by the Executive himself, betray the Executive Order’s stated secular purpose.”

During the campaign, the press was accused of taking Trump’s statements “literally, but not seriously,” while his supporters took them “seriously, but not literally.” Now Judge Watson is taking Trump’s words both literally and seriously. Watson explained:

“The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed… Equally flawed is the notion that the Executive Order cannot be found to have targeted Islam because it applies to all individuals in the six referenced countries. It is undisputed, using the primary source upon which the Government itself relies, that these six countries have overwhelmingly Muslim populations that range from 90.7% to 99.8%.”

The President’s words matter. And so do yours. You recently stated:

“I applaud President Trump for remaining committed to protecting our nation from foreign terrorists. The primary duty of the federal government is to keep Americans safe. We know that terrorists seek to exploit our immigration system in order to harm Americans. We should maintain a generous immigration system but it’s sensible to hit pause on admitting foreign nationals and refugees from countries where adequate screening cannot occur. The Ninth Circuit was wrong on the first executive order, but I am pleased that President Trump is moving forward with a revised plan to keep Americans safe.”

Do you still applaud the new ban? Do you still believe the Ninth Circuit judges who struck down the first ban were wrong? What exactly does the “pause” accomplish? The first ban was issued in January. It was only to last 90 days — so why do we need an additional 90 days a month later? Shouldn’t the new order be for 60 days?

Or am I taking your and the President’s words too literally? Will the President keep extending the ban? Does “90” really mean “indefinite”? By “pause” do you really mean “permanent”? Does “keep America safe” really mean “keep American Christian”?

Radical Islam is a danger to America. Islam is not. The courts were right to strike down both bans.

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Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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