Muslim Ban 3.0 Is Here. And So Is the Anti-Racist Resistance.

Communities under siege are planning a mass mobilization on October 18.

Michelle Chen

High School Student of NYC are protesting following current political shift of USA that ave been affecting muslim and immigrant students at Foley Square, New York, USA, 7 February 2017. (Photo by Anik Rahman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Before he took his oath, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump vowed to launch a war on Mus­lims. Now, that threat is becom­ing real­i­ty, with the new ver­sion of his sig­na­ture Mus­lim Ban” — a slight­ly tweaked attempt to ram through unprece­dent­ed trav­el restric­tions on refugees and trav­el­ers from sev­er­al Mus­lim-major­i­ty nations. As con­sti­tu­tion­al chal­lenges are in lim­bo until a full Supreme Court review in ear­ly Octo­ber, the bat­tle now returns to the streets, with a mass mobi­liza­tion slat­ed for Octo­ber 18 coined No Mus­lim Ban Ever.”

The upshot of the controversy is that Trump’s ruthless demagoguery has exposed the country’s embedded structural racism.

The nation­al day of protest links the defense of the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty with an incip­i­ent sol­i­dar­i­ty move­ment rep­re­sent­ing all com­mu­ni­ties besieged by the Trump administration.

The event is pri­mar­i­ly coor­di­nat­ed by Coun­cil on Islam­ic Rela­tions’ (CAIR) San Fran­cis­co-Bay Area Chap­ter, Mpow­er­Change, MASA Orga­niz­ing Team, Nation­al Immi­gra­tion Law Cen­ter and Asian Amer­i­cans Advanc­ing Jus­tice-Asian Law Cau­cus. These groups are part­ner­ing with an array of allies includ­ing immi­grant rights orga­ni­za­tions, Black Lives Mat­ter and post-elec­tion activist net­works like Indivisible.

The coali­tion’s state­ment of prin­ci­ples reflects a ris­ing con­scious­ness of the coun­try’s lega­cy of migrant exclu­sion and racial oppres­sion: The Mus­lim and refugee bans are dis­crim­i­na­to­ry, uncon­sti­tu­tion­al and inhu­mane in the same vein as the Chi­nese Exclu­sion Act, the Japan­ese Amer­i­can incar­cer­a­tion and spe­cial reg­is­tra­tion after 911 … It also affirms the white suprema­cist, exclu­sion­ary poli­cies of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion that dis­crim­i­nate on the basis of faith, nation­al ori­gin and immi­gra­tion status.”

CAIR senior lit­i­ga­tion attor­ney Gadeir Abbas says the Octo­ber 18 mobi­liza­tion is not just a reac­tion to the ban, but a vital sig­nal to the judiciary.

There’s real­ly three checks on the exec­u­tive branch,” he told In These Times. There’s Con­gress, there’s courts and there’s peo­ple.” So far, Con­gress has been reluc­tant to deci­sive­ly act to thwart Trump’s poli­cies, but low­er courts have effec­tive­ly put the brakes on the Mus­lim ban and oth­er hard­line exec­u­tive actions.

Between the Supreme Court and the street, how­ev­er, all those things hap­pen in a con­text of what peo­ple want,” says Abbas. As con­sti­tu­tion­al law­suits snow­balled around the coun­try after the first Mus­lim Ban order was issued in Jan­u­ary, Abbas says, Courts took note that the air­ports were filled with peo­ple [protest­ing], cour­t­hous­es were attract­ing thou­sands of pro­test­ers and demon­stra­tors, and that’s critical.”

From a legal stand­point, how­ev­er, Mus­lim Ban 3.0 seems more expan­sive and more tar­get­ed in its frame­work for racial exclu­sion. The revi­sion includes more coun­tries, with North Korea among them. Although it employs the same dra­con­ian anti-ter­ror­ist pre­text, the new ban includes some legal cov­er. For exam­ple, the ban applies dif­fer­ent restric­tions to coun­tries depend­ing on their spe­cif­ic secu­ri­ty cir­cum­stances and allows for some coun­tries to be removed if con­di­tions change. This alleged focus on shut­ting out nation­al secu­ri­ty” threats might be care­ful­ly word­ed enough to pass con­sti­tu­tion­al muster.

But the Octo­ber 18 orga­niz­ers are not deterred: Eli­ca Vafaie, staff attor­ney at Asian Amer­i­cans Advanc­ing Jus­tice, declared in a state­ment that the basic premise of the order remains intrin­si­cal­ly hos­tile to Mus­lims and civ­il rights gen­er­al­ly. Despite the President’s attempt to obscure this lat­est Mus­lim Ban’s dis­crim­i­na­to­ry intent, the newest pol­i­cy remains dis­crim­i­na­to­ry, unlaw­ful, and uncon­sti­tu­tion­al at its core and deeply impacts our com­mu­ni­ties,” Vafaie declared.

The upshot of the con­tro­ver­sy is that Trump’s ruth­less dem­a­goguery has exposed the country’s embed­ded struc­tur­al racism.

Anti-Mus­lim big­otry was a pil­lar of Trump’s cam­paign for pres­i­dent,” Abbas says, and his gen­er­al agen­da is to send a sig­nal that it’s okay to com­mit acts of vio­lence against the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty … and that Islam is some type of aggres­sive fea­ture of US soci­ety that needs to be exclud­ed, mar­gin­al­ized and oth­er­wise punished.”

While Trump’s pop­ulist brand­ing enables the nor­mal­iza­tion of right-wing extrem­ism, activists see him as a fig­ure­head for a more mon­strous ide­o­log­i­cal move­ment that fueled his rise. Abbas notes that reli­gious pro­fil­ing has been allowed for a very, very long time to flour­ish in [immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy]. While the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has exac­er­bat­ed the prob­lem … he did not invent it.”

But despite the admin­is­tra­tion’s polit­i­cal inco­her­ence, Trump is no emp­ty ves­sel. Abbas believes that the president’s poli­cies embody a clear world­view, dis­play­ing a lev­el of inten­tion­al­i­ty around cul­ti­vat­ing this white suprema­cist agen­da … as a way of prop­ping up and pleas­ing his base.”

Address­ing a media con­fer­ence about the Octo­ber 18 event, Michi­gan-based activist Adel Mozip said Trump’s rhetoric has con­cretized Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties’ worst fears. The truth is that this ban sends a pow­er­ful mes­sage, not just to me as a Yemeni Amer­i­can, but to all of us who prac­tice the Islam­ic faith, that we are not wel­come,” Mozip empha­sized. Since Trump has announced the Mus­lim Ban, I have noticed how it has instilled a fear fac­tor in my com­mu­ni­ty, many of whom have been try­ing to get their imme­di­ate fam­i­lies to the [Unit­ed States].”

Fol­low­ing bru­tal­i­ty against pro­test­ers from police and right-wing activists at protests, the hos­tile cli­mate has stoked fears of inten­si­fy­ing vio­lence at ral­lies. CAIR and oth­er com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions are run­ning Know Your Rights” train­ings to pre­pare com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers for risks of vio­lent encoun­ters in pub­lic. Abbas acknowl­edges, how­ev­er, Protest­ing has gen­er­al­ly not been the most safe activ­i­ty … the chal­lenges of the day do require folks to have courage and be will­ing to sac­ri­fice their time and bring risk to them­selves.” Abbas added, That goes for my moth­er-in-law [who] wears hijab, and my col­league that has a bushy beard.”

The risks aren’t lim­it­ed to demon­stra­tions. Anti-Mus­lim attacks have risen to stag­ger­ing lev­els this year. Reports of anti-Mus­lim hate crime inci­dents, includ­ing vio­la­tions involv­ing harass­ment or tar­get­ing by law enforce­ment, increased 91 per­cent dur­ing the first half of 2017 com­pared to the same time peri­od dur­ing the pre­vi­ous year, accord­ing to CAIR. Abbas says he hopes the hos­tile cli­mate doesn’t dis­cour­age peo­ple from par­tic­i­pat­ing, because ulti­mate­ly that’s the only thing that will change this vicious dynamic.” 

Michelle Chen is a con­tribut­ing writer at In These Times and The Nation, a con­tribut­ing edi­tor at Dis­sent and a co-pro­duc­er of the Bela­bored” pod­cast. She stud­ies his­to­ry at the CUNY Grad­u­ate Cen­ter. She tweets at @meeshellchen.

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