By now you have heard the news of President Trump’s “Muslim ban,” which puts a freeze on refugee arrivals and visa requests from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The ban is outlined in an Executive Order, ironically titled “Protection of the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” which plays right into the hands of ISIS.
The Muslim ban helps ISIS achieve its strategic goals of bolstering the binary of “us” versus “them,” Muslim versus non-Muslim, and the “Islamic world” versus “Western civilization.” Trump is effectively doing ISIS’s work, as I note in a blog post from a few months ago:
“In a statement published in its online magazine, Dabiq, in February 2015, ISIS encouraged Muslims to ‘eliminate the grey zone’ and warned that Muslims in the so-called ‘West’ will face continued Islamophobia. ISIS wants Muslims worldwide to think within a specific boundary, specifically, that they have two Manichean choices: they are either with ‘us’ (the Muslim community) or ‘them’ (the non-Muslim community). There is no in-between according to ISIS. A person cannot be simultaneously Muslim and American. It is one or the other, either or.”
In the same post, I discussed the space (the grey zone) between Trump and ISIS that people like you and I often inhabit. “It is the space of interaction, learning, friendship, hospitality, and mutual understanding. It is the space of cultural hybridity, where people of various ethnic and religious backgrounds create inclusive communities with flexible group boundaries… The grey zone, as Jonathan Freedland notes, is the place between black and white, where nothing is ever either/or and everything is a bit of both. The grey zone refers to the space where Muslims and non-Muslims live together in respect and harmony. The grey zone is the space between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ It is the space of ‘we.’ It is a space of convergence, fusion, and interfaith relations.”
Writing in The Telegraph, Myriam Francois-Cerrah discusses ISIS’s views on the grey zone and the ability of Muslims and non-Muslims to coexist with one another. She writes that ISIS wants to destroy the grey zone by convincing impressionable and disgruntled Muslims that they cannot possibly live as Muslims in the so-called “West,” and that ISIS somehow embody the actualization of Islamic ideals in the form of a utopian “state.” Francois-Cerrah also points out that ISIS recruits appear to have identified with the inhabitable grey zone, largely because of the rampant Islamophobia spreading across the United States and Europe.
The “Muslim ban” helps ISIS and hurts America. Chuck Schumer, Democratic leader in the Senate, put the ban into perspective: “Tears are running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty tonight as a grand tradition of America, welcoming immigrants, that has existed since America was founded, has been stomped upon.” In summary, the American Nightmare is trumping the American Dream.
Make no mistake about it – Trump has assisted ISIS and stomped on the American Dream in a single Executive Order. He has closed America’s borders to refugees, who are among the world’s most vulnerable people. That is exactly what ISIS wants to see – America being un-American.
Unfortunately, America is never far away from her demons. See the Chinese Exclusion Act and other horrific immigrant policies through US history. History is repeating itself and we are no better off for it.