BY REINSTATING PART OF THE TRAVEL BAN, THE SUPREME COURT HELPED TRUMP PUSH DOMESTIC TERRORISM FURTHER OUT OF THE SPOTLIGHT
President Trump is never more excited by policy than when it gives him license to bully someone. His travel ban, an executive order prohibiting travel from seven (then, after a March revision, six) predominantly Muslim countries, appears intended to assuage white supporters who harbor twisted ideas of both their racial identity and what terrorists look like. The ban not only vividly brands Muslims as extremists, but also ignores terrorist acts committed by white Americans. And the Supreme Court just gave Trump an assist.
The nine justices announced on Monday that the Court would hear arguments on the ban in October. They also stayed the lower court judgments currently blocking the ban, which means part of it will be put into effect by Thursday. There is absolutely no justification for this, governmental or moral. Besides, Trump’s original order specified a 90-day restriction on travelers from those nations and a 120-day ban on refugees who weren’t from Syria. More than 150 days into his presidency, he and the White House have had the time they needed to craft new policy to address foreign terrorism. Still, it isn’t nearly the ban Trump signed in January. The measure to be reinstated later this week states that “Foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” barred originally, will now meet the standard of entry.
The people who had surgeries and other urgent matters scheduled in the United States and who were blocked by Trump’s original order may be pleased by this development, if they are still alive. Nothing should hold up students and family members who have the proper visas, but “should” doesn’t mean much given the chaos unleashed back in January by Trump’s ban and the lack of federal preparation for it. But since the Trump administration will define “bona fide relationship” as they see fit, it’s unclear just how many travelers and refugees from the nations in question — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen — will actually be affected.
Then there’s the key question: Why is the Supreme Court allowing any such ban to proceed at all? Although the order has been beaten to a pulp in the lower courts due to its discriminatory nature and clear violation of the free exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment, this doesn’t appear to concern either the White House or the Court.
“It’s one of those split-the-baby decisions that only supports the basic problematic premise,” Vince Warren, the executive director of the nonprofit Center for Constitutional Rights, told MTV News. “The Court’s decision assumes that there are categories of Muslims who are inherently dangerous, whether or not they’ve done something wrong. It’s a problem for the Constitution, and it’s a problem for our values.”
The justices utterly failed to consider the cultural carnage that an entire summer of this ban will wreak upon America, and they cannot justify the reinstatement as a way to clarify the legal questions at hand. They have failed to acknowledge that if Trump and the White House truly wanted to stop terrorism in the United States, they wouldn’t be worried about banning Muslims solely from countries where the president has no business interests.
“I would say that the Trump administration has raised to a high art the creation of an external bogeyman threat, in the form of foreign Muslims,” Warren said. “That only raises the question of how the administration deals with credible threats of violence within the country, the majority of which are committed by non-Muslims.”
This ban wasn’t just about the criminalization of Muslims home and abroad, but also a laissez-faire approach to domestic terrorism. Thanks to the Supreme Court, we can now anticipate more of both.
America’s terrorism problem remains almost wholly an internal one, and it has a white face. From 2008 to 2016, twice as many terrorist incidents in America were committed by far-right extremists as were committed by Islamist ones. From a Sikh temple in Wisconsin to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado to a black church in Charleston, Americans saw the problem of white extremism grow exponentially during the Obama era. And as last year’s massacre at the Orlando nightclub Pulse showed, just because a terrorist has an Arab name doesn’t mean he isn’t American.