Like most of you I am reeling over Trump’s first week in the Oval Office. The final gut punch being the executive order banning refugees and immigrants from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya.
This ban was ostensibly meant to make the country more safe. The Trump administration based the ban on a report given to the Obama Administration identifying these countries as “of concern.” Millions are rightly outraged over Trump’s actions and are taking to the streets. Other’s insist it is no different than Obama’s or Carter’s actions and see the protests as liberal whinning.
Much of the pushback has remained well within the parameters of mainstream political discourse and has centered on details of the ban such as the fact that it includes green card holders. It’s not that these details are not important — they most certainly are and I’m glad millions are standing up and making their voices heard– it’s that these details obscure the real intent behind the neoliberal agenda which Democracts and Republicans alike exploit.
The real intent behind Trump’s ban (or any other policy predicated on “keeping America safe”) is a renewed investment in whiteness by fanning the flames of Islamophobia and anti-Blackness which divides the working class and keeps us fighting each other as opposed to uniting and turning our attention to the Donald Trumps of the world. This is why the executive order is so crudely put together and so clumsily implemented; it’s soley an appeal to whiteness and its faux-patriotism which purports to keep people safe while ignoring the sources and causes of the danger.
For many that may feel uncomfortable. Even liberals will want to avoid that truth, but a look at the facts leads to this indisputable conclusion.
If this were truly about keeping people safe then the fact that 15 of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia would matter. Or the fact that none — zero — American deaths have come at the hands of anybody from any of the countries banned. The Trump Adminsitration has also cited the San Bernadino shootings as an example of the type of tragedy this ban would stop from happening, Sean Spicer even cited it on Morning Joe. The problem is that Syed Rizwan Farook, the shooter, was an American citizen born in Illinois with Pakistani ancestry. His wife, Tashfeen Malik is a Pakistani immigrant. Pakistan is not on the list. Further illustrating the point, if this were about keeping America safe the fact that you 7 times more likely to be killed by a Right-Wing extremist –you know, like Steve Bannon who is now the chief strategist for the President– than by a Muslim would matter to policy makers and voters alike. If this were about safety we would have a serious conversation about drone bombs and imperial warfare which created the refugee crisis and hatred that fuels ISIL in the first place. If this were about keeping people safe that is. Most damning: Trump has business ties in the counties not on the list while doing “little to no business” with the countries included in the ban. This is about whiteness doing what it always does, dividing the working people so as to maintain economic power in the hands of the very few.
It is painfully obvious this is not about safety but rather power and fear. Those with power are constantly in search of expaning and growing thier power which depends on keeping folks fearful. This divide and conquer is at the heart of Ameican Empire. It is fundamental and we shouldn’t be surprised that it is still present. The question, then, is not how did we get here, we have always been here, the question is, What are we going to do now?
With every executive order Trump moves more and more of us who are considered white towards resitance. Trump lays bare the violence, hatred, and division that is the lifeblood of whiteness, and more and more of us are rejecting it and choosing humanity. In order to resist as effectively as possible, in order to build the alternative, we need to understand Trump through the frame of whiteness. Only by implementing this frame will we be able to resist Trump thoroughly. If we fail to understand the root of his worldview we remain succeptible to becoming numb to the reality of his policies. Trump can then simply walk back the most egregious aspects of his policies while enshrining the spirit of his woldview in law.
Trump’s election has always been about whiteness, his policies are no different. Let’s remain vigilant and unrelenting. In resistance we find our humanity.