EDITOR’S NOTE: Part four of a five-part series examining the ease with which all that we hold dear can be hijacked and turned against us in the blink of an eye. Today we focus on the easiest part of the Totalitarian sell job by our “Con-mander-in Chief,” selecting a group of people for the masses to hate. Living in a post-9/11 world, it wasn’t exactly difficult for The Donald to select Muslims as his scapegoat. Oh this one has been on simmer for centuries, but finally, oh finally, America has elected a big enough douche bag to discard our religious freedoms and give a big middle finger to all the tired and huddled masses that follow the wrong religious origin story. In the end, liberty disappears when you give away your right to freely worship.
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ACT FOUR: IDENTIFYING THE SCAPEGOAT
The act of scapegoating is one of the most important and efficient ways to win the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised while getting them excited about having their country run by a would-be dictator.
To effectively scapegoat and energize the majority against a targeted group, dictators must know that they can engender a plausible enough reason to blindly hate, while at the same time augmenting enough lies to turn fear into a wrongheaded crusade.
Once a group is targeted for hate, those objectifying the bad people are scared enough to do anything to stay safe and maintain their place. Our returning champion, Adolf Hitler, was able to project his brand of hate onto his Jewish countrymen by infecting large numbers of Germans with enough blind rage to pin a catastrophic economic depression on an entire religion.
For Trump there was no need for fiery speeches or late night book burnings, he already had a group that everyone had agreed to hate.
Gifted with almost two decades of war and hundreds of deplorable acts of carnage by terrorists in the name of religion, Donald wasted no time in going after all of those folks in the Middle East who did not worship on Sundays, celebrate Christmas or answer to the Western powers.
He created a travel ban for Muslims just days after taking office, widely targeting those in nations that had the nerve to pray to Allah — an Arabic word meaning “God.”
The polarizing law was sold to a gullible public as a necessary safety measure amid ongoing attacks in England, France, Germany and at home by many terrorists who murdered in the name of Islam.
Trump’s original Muslim travel ban made it illegal for anyone from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia to travel to the United States for 120 days. A reboot took the Iraqis out of the mix.
However, the travel ban’s introduction did far more to increase Trump’s personal power and further weaken our democracy. A key component in a slow-moving coup that seems hell-bent on changing the standing of America on the world stage, the ban was met with protests at airports and anywhere else that politicians coalesced. The policy left many in the land of the free and home of the brave to wonder why the need and why the rush.
Even Hitler phased in his ethnic-cleansing laws over time, and President George W. Bush gave Saddam Hussein 48-hours to bounce for possessing his imaginary weapons of mass destruction. But for the impatient President Man-Boy, waiting is for losers, so he began stomping on the Constitution without even a warning or televised surrender demands.
Outside of trying to violate everything ye old melting pot had ever stood for, Trump’s rush to flaunt his power, was palpable and seemed to violate the most American of all principles — religious freedom. Enacting a travel ban without discourse suggested this was but one more step in Trumps Sieg Heil race to authoritarianism.
With the power of both houses of Congress in Republican hands and at Trump’s disposal, with no significant talk of Russia, Azerbaijani pop singers, secret meetings, or even impeachment, the Springtime would prove extra sweet for Donnie. An eager public itching to demean and punish someone through the bully pulpit of the presidency awaited, and with his tiny little fingers finally on the trigger, Trump wasted little time targeting his scapegoats.
Within his first week of office, Trump did what he reportedly abhorred about the last fella who held the office — he signed a gazillion executive orders. Using ceremonial pens and finishing each damning signature with a look-what-I-did-Mommy” pose, Trump signed executive order after executive order before a phalanx of giggling conservatives who ghoulishly applauded everything that flashed across #45’s garishly dyed combover.
One of the most shocking executive orders was Executive Order 13769, or “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Entry into the United States. It was signed on Jan. 27, 2017. Blocked by the lower courts, it was replaced by Executive Order 13780, a brighter and bouncier ban.
After eight years of killing terrorists as bad guys under President Barack Obama, Trump found an opportunity to blaspheme a religion and give those radicals Islamists something to suck on.
The move, a campaign promise, was so haphazardly thrown together, that when first enacted, it stranded American citizens from those countries in American airports for days. Trump said the half-baked law was necessary to protect America from terror, and passing it was within his ability as president.
Sure, such an unprecedented move should require laws under Congress, but when you run the White House and the legislative branches of government, you don’t even have to pretend to play by the rules. Plus, it was the perfect way to inflate the scapegoated menace in assembly-line fashion.
Finally able to openly bang the drum against so called “radical Islam,” Trump focused on anger against ongoing terrorist incidents around the world, the continuing battle against ISIS militants, and hatred for non-Christian religions, and voilà — he had his bogeyman.
Realistically, The Donald had nothing to do with these organic acts of war between Christians and Muslims that have been brewing for centuries. But Trump has been sounding the alarm since at least George H. W. Bush launched Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
Trump didn’t like that America was not controlling or monetizing all the black gold Iraq produced, and he held all nations of the region responsible for not allowing the United States to fleece them. Trump wrongly believed Kuwait and other nations were debtors that never paid their protection money after the expulsion of Saddam Hussein from Iraq.
Despite being against the Iraq war under President George W. Bush and virulently opposed to any action in the region that had been carried out by President Barack Obama, Trump and the Islamophobes saw the growth of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and ISIS not simply as the byproduct of decades of war, but as an easy answer to a much larger problem. Although the aims of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and ISIS are hardly identical, Trump covered them all with a one-size-fits-all blanket of hate, giving credence to his ignorant narrative of “I told you so.”
By the spring of 2017, Trump was still touting his stunning victory, but also planting bountiful seeds of hate in an open flower bed nurtured by xenophobic pabulum from the campaign trail that looked to ban all Muslims from America.
In this atmosphere, the scapegoats didn’t need to be labeled, they were already loathed across much of America, wearing their best traditional headgear and beards, seemingly just waiting for #45 to accuse them of future acts of jihad.
Before the election, while Obama was extolling strength through diversity and urging us to uphold American ideals, Trump and other hardliners were demanding that the Obama administration join the paranoia by accepting the term “radical Islam” thus demonizing an entire faith rather than the true radicals who were using Islam to spread fear, mayhem and death.
Like any good dictator, Trump gave Obama the choice of either adopting this wrong-minded and dangerous approach or being lumped with the demonized. It obviously did not help that Trump had already cast Obama as an illegal immigrant, with many Republicans also falsely casting him as a Muslim.
It was Trump’s least manufactured attempt at making us great again, but the most obviously un-democratic goal that he pursued in those lazy, crazy days.
Despite its haste and uneven beginnings, the reality was the law, be it a travel ban or Muslim ban, was filled with gaping holes. Appellate courts throughout the land refused to uphold the unfairly restrictive rules and its usage was blocked early on.
Primarily, the United States is not at war with any Middle Eastern nation, and the ban excluded Saudi Arabia (home to the vast majority of 9/11 attackers and Osama bin Laden) and the United Arab Emirates. Sure, adding those areas would have messed with our money, but at least it would have appeared to be based on historic occurrences. Instead, the unprecedented ban became the gold standard for xenophobia, and though blocked, stood to show that even in America, it would not be too difficult to take up against an entire religion.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that allowed a partial implementation of the ban to go into effect. The court further muddied the waters by allowing restrictions on foreigners from certain Middle Eastern nations who could show no “bona fide relationship” with an American entity or person. Even sphinx-like Justice Clarence Thomas voiced concern over the ban, which now only allows visitors from those countries to visit spouses, fiancees, parents, parents-in-law, children, adult sons or daughters, siblings, step-or half-sibilings, or sons and daughters-in-law, and excludes visit to all others.
The ban currently allows the government to check those who travel from Muslim countries on a case-by-case basis, which sounds so much like life during wartime in Germany circa 1939.
From the attacks on 9/11 to the Iraqi War, fears of random attacks on civilians spawned a new religion of fear in the west and dropped what has largely been a peaceful, widely held belief system into the category of a weaponized and almost illegal religion.
Restricting the rights for a single group to worship freely is an affront to the liberty of all.
With a jaded eye, we have learned that in Donald Trump’s America, guilt by association now applies to your religious beliefs and where you were born, unless, of course, your heritage is European.