The Fault Lines
Beneath San Bernandino, lie the San Andreas Fault lines, one of the seismically complex well known earthquake area on the North American tectonic plate. The pressure between the plates has been building over decades and a massive earthquake is strongly predicted. In fact, scientists have called this a ‘Ten Month old’ pregnancy.
How does this relate to the executive order banning people from those seven nations? Well, first thing first. That’s not a Muslim ban. If I understand correctly, there are 56 nations that have Muslim majority. Though most of these Muslim majority countries are peace loving, occasional countries with Muslim majority have severe unrest. The ban is against people moving from these strife torn countries. Recent wave of immigration is Europe is a vivid and life example.
Is this devoid of Logic?
It gets confounding, especially when you compare this executive order with what was talked during campaign (speeches). However, let us take one step at a time and discern what was said during campaign from what is being done to protect the nation. How would you protect the nation from an imminent threat arising from a minuscule population of malafide people mixing along with innocents entering as refugees? Trump hasn’t said, this is permanent, all he has done is move into immediate action until he evolves a mechanism for stalling or stopping any miscreants entering US soil and doing the damage.
This truly is a ‘haste ban’
This ban sounds something done in great haste, without supporting risk and impact analysis. Ideally, directives such as these, are thoroughly researched, modeled and thought through before being implemented. It throws some fundamental constitutions tenets such as the ‘Immigration Act of 1965‘ to disdain. As it stands, this bans nationals originating from these seven countries, everyone from Muslims to Christians, including ladies and innocent kids. If you look at the percentage of terrorists coming from these seven nations or the possibility of being attacked by immigrants turning into terrorists from these seven countries, the potential is minuscule, lower than someone being hit by a car while driving. More so, banning these countries, displays lack of cost-benefit calculation done for countries like Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. Of course, this does not take into consideration the reputation of US as a beacon and an apostle of the free world. That’s not a consideration at all.
It caters to the populist base, overrides statutory stipulations and displays a presidency in haste and reckless decision making. When we implement and then think through, that is haste. Haste is always not bad but, is it required in this situation?
Why is it difficult to trust that, this is not a ‘Muslim Ban’?
The onus of protecting one’s country is with its own citizens and their elected leaders. That behavior is dictated by threat perception. If President Trump needs time to refine and devise a mechanism, should he wait until then and implement a refined mechanism? Or in the interim, should he implement a mechanism that provides and prevents immediate mitigation (for a limited period) and keep refining? I believe, both options are directly dependent upon threat perception and perspective of protection.
If this is right, why is it difficult to trust what President Trump is doing? We all know, the epicenter of terrorism (Pakistan) or the place from where most terrorists belonged too during 9/11 (Saudi Arabia). Neither of these countries are in the list of banned list. Devoid of the reasoning on their omission (Pakistan and Saudi Arabia’s), it becomes less trusting and erodes the authenticity of this order.
Why should Saudi Arabia be excluded?
This is oft repeated question. The answer is cost benefit analysis. Presume, I do business with you and despite a hard wall or bottleneck, I still make some money that is critical to my volume. Add to that, the administrators on either side are aligned for decades. If it proven that the perpetrators of crime are not state sponsored, do you think we should burn those bridges too? Suffice it to say, the petrochemical appetite, the massive financial engagement on either side and the goodwill cooperation on either side are sufficient to not enlist Saudi amongst those seven countries.
I am still perplexed how Pakistan always manages to go scot free, irrespective of being a cauldron and a melting pot of terrorism. Irrespective of the power in Hill, it has the propensity and potential to escape the wrath.
It is threat perception and response to that perception (It is not anti-Muslim)
Let me drive another example – when a Muslim country bans another Muslim country, it is not called ‘Anti-Muslim’ but when a secular nation, based on its threat perception, bans few selected nations, it is immediately labeled as Anti-Muslim. Kuwait banned five nationals from entering its country in 2011, citing, ‘”difficult security conditions in the five countries”. Visit Kuwait’s decision to ban citizens from five nations. Kuwait bans visa issuance to five nationalities: Nationals from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan banned from entering Kuwait.
(updated on Feb 11, 2017)
On Feb 11, 2017 Saudi Arabia has just confirmed deporting 39,000 Pakistanis from its country since many of those deported are connected with terrorist activities connected with ISIS. This is sufficient to dispel general perception that every ban is not religious ban or religious bias; it is threat perception and not religious bias. The chairman of the Shoura council (the security committee) went a step further and recommended thorough scrutiny of Pakistanis nationals since they were complicit with security concerns.
Suffice it to say, this is NOT anti-islam but ‘Anti-Terror’ Haste Ban. Imagine a world without these ban from Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, we would have certainly thought that the US ban is Anti-Islam. Just see how profusely the common Americans feel sympathetic towards Muslims. That is marvelous and highly appreciable.
Scarred of recent European Immigrant ‘Law and Order’
No one wants another 9/11. Recent Syrian immigration to Europe is a history in making – rapes, looting and anarchy are rampant in selected parts with severe influx of Syrian and Middle Eastern. Law enforcement in Europe was never built to handle this influx of citizens who had a different set of ethos and value (not that their practices are bad, just that we all are different in our maturity and adoption). Europeans never thought the fashion of their women would subject them to aggravated sex assault and they never thought women need to change lifestyle or get additional protection upon the arrival of immigrants to continue their lifestyle.
First and foremost, an immigrant has to be grateful to their country of adoption. They need to imbibe and align with the local law enforcement. Lack of law enforcement meant less lawlessness. On the contrary, lack of enforcement was interpreted as lawless community. Europe, and specifically Germany and France, were never built to handle this chaos. Trump’s voting base is worried about that.
Lessons from history
Humanitarian crisis has to be met with humanitarian aid but in an appropriate way (read my blog on Syrian immigration). Recipients of humanitarian aid need to follow certain norms while accepting the gratitude (truly interesting blog and a must read on successful immigration by Parsis that shaped India).
Does the protest appeal human conscious?
Not completely. What made these protesters lose the moral luster? Truly, these protesters would have widened their appeal and given a stronger moral ground, if all these same protesters would have assembled when San Bernandino or the Orlando Pub shooting happened. Empathy is when we feel and perceive the pain of others. Empathy is a human need and it goes both ways. It is never material, and sincere feeling backed up with action, are always appreciate. We should learn to stand up and express sincerely.
Compassion is a two way street
To preserve our rights and perspective, we should protest but when those protests are self serving and lack compassion, it erodes the values and deprives the moral beacon that appeals human yearning for justice. Let me draw a parallel. If only all these protesters swarming the airports in the last two days would have participated in similar protests when the attack at San Bernandino or the one that occurred at Orlando pub, people would have sympathized more assiduously.
I still remember, when Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist from Pakistan, responsible for 26/11 in Mumbai, was tried and hanged eventually; the Muslim community from Mumbai refused to offer him the burial (ground). Compassion like this, paves way for solidarity with the Non-Muslim community and create an atmosphere of trust. Why do they always feel the world is against them? Sometimes, they too can stand along with the world. The Muslims from Mumbai did exactly that.
The tectonic plates of American heartland versus Urban American will keep colliding until enough corrections occur. Of course, no one likes earthquakes, and had these been addressed earlier, the chasm between the two would have never widened enough to see rightward shift.
…and a closing comment
Country should be above religion and religious affiliations
When I saw these Muslims clamoring at the airports protesting the so called misconstrued ‘Muslim Ban’, I felt it strong, they should have revisited the history of attacks on this country and this country’s vulnerabilities. Religion cannot be above every action. If the threat perception mandates ban (from selective countries) so be it. Let us honor that perception and perspective. Country should be above religion and religious affiliations. Align with the country’s interests. Don’t alienate, just align!
Does that mean banning or vetting is wrong?
No, banning or vetting immigrants to protect once country is not wrong. However, it should follows ethos and natural principles of justice, should have adequate research and an embedded mechanism, and lastly, it should provides legal redressal or appeal. Devoid of these, bans such as these are unlikely to provide a solution. Until the fault lines show correction, we will see similar frictions between the populist base and the educated and elite. Suffice it to say, this is not a Muslim ban, this is a ‘Haste Ban’.
(Updated Feb 3, 2017)
U.S. District Court Judge James Robart ruled against Trump’s travel ban from seven Muslim countries. Read excerpts from Politico, “Judge Robart’s decision, effective immediately, effective now, puts a halt to President Trump’s unconstitutional and unlawful executive order. It puts a stop to it immediately, nationwide,” Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson told reporters. “What the judge announced today was nationwide; the president’s executive order does not apply.”
My Comments after Judge Robart Order:
Trump’s Executive Order may go through the labyrinths of legal challenges but it is clear that devoid of diplomacy, Trump is an expression of, not the erudite but, the apprehensive common man. Those not agnostic should take cognizance, rather than deny this, and introspect why most aggressive and radical attacks are statistically skewed towards certain faith/s. Those asserting themselves, individually or collectively, need to abandon aggression and adopt dialog, trusting that dialog doesn’t mean one party will walk with everything or nothing.
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