Last Friday, amid a gaggle of advisers, security guards and media members, and basking in the warm glow of the stage lights diffusing off the curved walls of the Oval Office, the newly elected leader of the free world signed an executive order that would place stern restrictions on immigration into the United States for, at minimum, the next 120 days.
Or, as the contributors at Salon.com and Slate may put it, Donald Trump banned all Muslims from entering our country because the only thing Donald Trump hates more than Muslims are people with normal hair and regular-sized hands.
But he didn’t stop there. Over the course of the next 48 hours, the Commander-in-Chief was seen tweeting about plans for new policy measures, meeting with CEO’s of major international corporations, kicking people really hard in the shins, and basically just being a dick to everyone.
Now I know what you’re thinking – ‘Brian, did Donald Trump really kick those peoples shins? Or are you just making that up?’
That’s a fair question and I commend you for asking. I honestly don’t know if he kicked anyone’s shins. I’m not even certain he pushed anyone to the ground, and I’m starting to wonder if that story I read about him ordering every female White House staffer to make him a sandwich was entirely accurate. But what I can tell you is that those assertions are no more made up than just about every piece of rhetoric surrounding any one of the executive orders enacted over the last week and a half.
Unfortunately, the fictionalization of reporting on such subjects has done little to prevent a Gladwell-esque tip in public opinion.
That is, a big chunk of the national demographic has decided that, rather than use the ever expanding amount of information made available to them, and view policy implementation with an objective mindset, it would be more inline with national interest to act like a bag of misinformed asshats and scream really loudly about bigotry and intolerance.
And that’s really what’s so fun about politics these day, right? Isn’t the world more easily navigated when our collective conscience isn’t weighed down by the burdens of logic, reason, history or anything else that might make sense?
Aren’t the world’s greatest accomplishments the work of surface level operators whose agendas have no place for the proposition of thinking in any way but black and white?
Won’t everything just be way better all the time if we stick to our guns, regardless of at whom they’re pointing or why, rather than finding commonality in our supposed desire for the greater good?
At the risk of being any campier, I’ll assert that America is at a tremendous crossroads. But while we’ve collectively exhausted an amount of energy that may have been sufficient to solve the world hunger crisis debating the propositions of the future, the fork in the road of our nation’s story does not split ways on either side of our grandiose new leader.
Rather, the American people are divided by an extraordinary collision of the desire for civility and the inherently human need for validation.
Now we’re only a few hundred words into this so it may be appropriate to offer up a lifeline. If you’re a silly-goosed Facebook warrior who’s favorite news source is whatever your like-minded friends have curated on their timelines, if you’ve got it in your head that America is in serious trouble and Donald Trump will be the downfall of our society, stop reading.
Seriously, it’s just not worth arguing with you. This piece is strictly for people equipped with an ability to reason deductively and think openly. Reading any further would be a waste of both of our time. But if you think there’s a chance you don’t already, in fact, know everything, read on and I welcome your thoughts.
Professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes extensively, in his book Antifragile, about the concept of antifragility, which is defined as a convex reaction to a stressor that leads to an increase in volatility.
Picture attempting to blow out a candle and, instead, starting a forest fire. That’s antifragility.
And it’s a pretty dope illustration representative of our current cultural atmosphere. The paradox so many are facing between torrid resistance and basic neighborly accord.
Put simply, a large segment of the American population just flipped over the Monopoly board, called grandma a ‘cunt’ and stormed off to their rooms.
But entertaining as it may be to digest to the grammatically butchered ramblings of the modern disenchanted, what’s truly frightening is the very tangible and rapidly expanding divide imposed by their creators.
And why the divide? How has our nation become so polarized so quickly regarding the decisions of a single man?
Well, lack of consistency is a good place to start explaining. But first, a bold declaration.
Donald Trump’s temporary immigration ban is not only prudent, it’s not the least bit uncommon.
Let’s work backward through that statement in order to peel back the layers.
Not uncommon you say? But whatever do you mean?
Well, there are plenty of differences between Trump’s implementation and the executive order signed by Barack Obama in 2011 to all but halt the processing of Iraqi refugee requests for six months. But although a comparison of the two has been beaten to death by both sides of the aisle over the last few days, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
While the Obama policy was narrower in scope, the threat itself was, indeed, more acute. Trump’s ban being further reaching is correlative to a more widespread perceived threat of terrorist infiltration from a larger set of distressed or war torn areas. While that may be a far more commanding implementation, there’s no evidence to suggest that Trump’s policy will do more harm than good, as it’s impossible to measure a statistic regarding occurrences that don’t happen as a direct result of the policy itself.
The number of possible terrorist acts that don’t occur is incalculable, therefore asserting that this executive order is more harmful than assuaging is illegitimate.
Other notable immigration policy shifts include FDR’s limitation on Jewish refugees during World War II and Jimmy Carter’s ban on Iranian immigrants following the hostage crisis of 1979. So things like this do happen, they’re just not often performed by such controversial leaders.
The token refute to any comparison drawn between Trump’s executive order and Obama or Carter’s policies is that the latter’s were in direct response to a specific action, (the discovery of two al-Qaeda operators living in Kentucky and the Iranian hostage crisis, respectively) but this assertion makes even less sense.
Comparing a proactive measure to a reactionary one is simply not congruent. If that were the case then the expectation for any leader would be to take absolutely no action to protect his people from any threat until tragedy occurred an spurred him into motion. And that’s just plain ol’ ridiculous.
In reality, the biggest difference between these policies and the latest is that Obama’s policy never quite trended and we didn’t have Facebook circa 1979. Also, only was one implemented by a man with the last name Trump.
However, claiming that the president’s policy is a departure from America’s traditional handling of foreign affairs in inaccurate at best.
What’s more accurate is that the American people feed themselves a steady diet of assumptions, misinformation and selective inclusion and, as a result, what are relatively mundane procedures become the catalyst of social firestorm.
And while it’s purpose is a point of heated contention, it shines a light on the striking hypocrisy on behalf of a large faction of its opposition.
You may remember changing your profile picture for three or four days in late 2015 to include a filter depicting the French flag.
That’s because a group of terrorists, a handful of whom entered the country under the guise of refugee status, gunned down 130 people in Paris. Reviewing the screening procedures for immigrants entering France after the fact did very little to bring the victims back.
While this illustration is in no way intended to condemn those legitimately escaping the terrors of their homeland, it’s hard to deny the gravity of a more thorough vetting process.
And it is fundamentally illogical to claim a position of solidarity with those affected by such heinous acts while criticizing a policy that could very well prevent a similar occurrence stateside.
So what does this mean for the refugees looking to flee the catastrophes of an unstable Middle East?
Well, it means that a country that has admitted less than 2% of Syrian nationals that have fled their homes since 2011 has closed its doors to perform an overhaul of its process.
You read that correctly. Since 2011 the United States has admitted less than 20,000 of the estimated 11 million Syrians that have been displaced by the ongoing conflict. 12,587 of those being admitted last year was an astronomical increase from the 31 refugees admitted in 2012, 36 in 2013 and 105 in 2014.
This of course does not include refugees from other countries, that total was 84,995 in the fiscal year 2016, or 0.03% of the 21.3 million refugees worldwide.
These figures don’t represent a lack of commitment by the U.S. to provide a safe haven for those in need, but rather provides context to the assertion that a 120 day ban on immigration, in order to review and strengthen policy procedures, is little more than a hiccup in the global framework.
I point this out not to chastise the Obama guard for it’s actions, but to put in perspective the overall effect of the current one’s decisions. It is a noble gesture to aid any human being in distress, but for the sake of objective conversation, it’s important to look at things empirically to understand the collateral implications on a world stage.
The United States’ indefinite ban on the admission of Syrian refugees will have a considerably small affect on the global effort to aid those in need. And the United States is far from the only country taking such measures.
Two of the three countries that have accepted the bulk of Syrian refugees, Lebanon and Jordan, effectively closed their borders in June and August of 2016 respectively. The third, Turkey, began construction on a wall bordering Syria in 2014, expecting completion this spring.
The halting of admission of Syrian refugees in an attempt to shore up a processing system that could alter the inherent safety of the American public is not out of tune with the nations that have spearheaded resettlement efforts to this point.
The fact is, the Oval Office is a lonely place for any man trapped between his obligation to the American people and his civil responsibility on a global scale. It is an incredibly unfortunate and saddening proposition to choose between the welfare of people in serious need and the ongoing security of those of whom one is sworn to act in the best interest.
When it comes to the avenues of action in relation to the aiding of those effected by domestic conflict there are absolutely no black, white or easy decisions. But the President of the United States’ responsibility is, first and foremost, to the American public.
To claim that Donald Trump is, in some way, turning his back on those seeking refuge is to think within a vacuum free of collateral effect, where the world operates in binary, unlike reality where things are a bit more complicated.
A final point to make on this topic is the prompt extinguishing of the accusation that this policy is a ‘Muslim Ban’ of sorts. This is simply absurd. It cannot be helped that the seven countries affected by this executive order are inhabited primarily by subscribers of the Islamic faith. This implementation is aimed at countries affected, at least in some regard, by violent conflict or known terrorist activity.
To help illustrate, here’s a link to the executive order in it’s entirety. The word Muslim is not included anywhere in the text. So if your opinion is that, although it’s not once mentioned throughout the length of the policy overview, this order seeks to segment and oppress a particular religious faction, you may be an assumptive douchebag.
Which brings us to the real reason we’re here…
If the president’s controversial order is merely a more stringent application of the stance taken by nations facing the same dilemma, and far from original in its intricacies, how is it that Donald Trump is really destroying America? And why are we letting it happen?
The answer really boils down to one word: Exposure.
Although less than two weeks old, the presidency of Donald Trump has exposed the frailty of the very fabric of American society. More specifically, it has exposed one of the most disappointing and foretelling attributes of contemporary American culture.
That is, we would rather be right than be civil.
See, while it’s entirely understandable that a substantial piece of the population simply disagrees with the policy stances or personal conduct of the new president, what is unjustifiably misguided is the commitment to resisting any possibility that life could continue on in a forward moving manner with him at the helm.
Such is the underlying issue brought so swiftly to the forefront by that historic November upset. You see, the scary thing about having such a polarizing figure in the White House isn’t what he may or may not do. But what we, the people, may or may not.
The fact is that the general population is a much more powerful and volatile entity than the executive branch could ever hope to be. But it’s become almost instinctive for us to use that power as a means to divide rather than unify.
Here’s the deal, Donald Trump does not have the power to destroy America, no single person does. The collapse of a society is founded in the collective power of its population. And recently we’ve been doing fucking bang up job of utilizing that power to tear ourselves apart in an ongoing conflict fueled by overzealous convicting, lackadaisical informing and a heartbreaking commitment to unfounded beliefs.
There is no action a single man in power can take to overcome the destructive course set in motion by the fervent refusal to act in accordance with the etiquette of moral ethic. And that, in a nutshell, is how Donald Trump is destroying America. By simply providing us, the people, the fuel to expose our true colors.
Donald Trump will fail as president because we’ve already decided he will. That declaration was handed down at about 8:30 pm central time on November 8th, just as the race began to shift favor.
The question bouncing back and forth across the ether, in any number of forms lately, is ‘Can Donald Trump do anything right?’
And the answer, as decided by a populace that has no interest in seeing him succeed, is a resounding ‘No.’
But it won’t be for lack of trying, we’ve just already made up our minds that everything he does is, in some way, an attempt to dismantle the foundation of our society.
Donald Trump could literally save a box of puppies from a burning building and America would probably want him brought in on arson charges. No longer is the reality-TV star turned commander a far off possibility feared by millions. He’s become a vindicating excuse to act like the morally bankrupt animals we truly are.
The past twelve days have revealed more hatred, bias and flat out savagery than could ever be possibly claimed as the standard of behavior for the residents of what’s so pridefully known as the greatest country on Earth.
Donald Trump will fail because we, as a people, will make sure of it.
See to ‘Make America Great Again’ 330 million or so people have to commit to coexisting in a civil manner. To overcoming obstacles as a nation unified in pursuit of the greater good. That idea went out the window on June 16th, 2015 on a descending escalator at Trump Tower on fifth avenue in New York City.
From then on we decided that anyone who didn’t agree with our personal perspectives on any one of a spectrum of topics was either racist, bigoted, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, any one of the other phobics; facist, misogynistic, or in some way mentally incapable. And that goes for both sides of the divide.
And that, more than the effects of policies put forth by any one man, will be the authentic disruption that signals the destruction of our society so badly desired by a population that would rather live in miserable validation than prosperous humility.
Hopefully all is not lost, maybe cat videos will make a comeback or the next beanie baby-esque craze will consume the nation long enough for us to hang up our unearned political hats for a while and remember that life is what we make of it. But in the meantime, every day brings us closer to the precipice of social oblivion, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.
But until then, we’ll have to stick to getting our jollies by taking advantage of the opportunity to turn or freshly inaugurated leader into the punchline of a joke that’s only funny at a safe distance from reality, or letting our personal relationships and consensus peace of mind crumble beneath the tremors of a billion pseudo-intellectual strong man competitions in a never ending hunt for our own twisted sense of personal satisfaction.
So congratulations, America. You were right once again.
I hope we’re all really fucking proud of ourselves.