On Ignorance, Intolerance, and Bigotry

It seems incredible that lawful permanent residents of the United States are stranded abroad, prohibited from boarding flights home, for such a capricious reason as being unfortunate enough to be traveling at the wrong time. (This is not even to mention the plight of millions of innocent refugees fleeing violence and terror, who are no less deserving of justice.) And yet, here we are.

Who do you know who is affected by Friday’s executive order?

One of my friends in college was of Iranian descent. Years ago, he joined the US army and risked his life fighting for our country in Iraq. Later, he visited his extended family in Iran, fearful that the government would imprison him if it discovered he had served in our army. Now he cannot go back, due to Iran’s entirely-justified reciprocal ban on Americans. When will he be able to see his family again? Will this really only last 90 days?

Who do you know?

I should not have had to detail my friend’s military service or present him as a sympathetic character. It should not matter. Equality is supposed to be one of the uniting principles of our country. We have a long history of failing in this regard, but it has mostly been a history of progress in the right direction. Clearly, that is no longer the case.

So who do you know? If you do not know anyone affected by yesterday’s executive action, perhaps you should think twice before voting for ignorance, irrational fear, hate, and bigotry. Of course I mean that you should think twice before voting for the Republican Party. If you still, after this weekend, do not believe that is what the party now stands for, then you are long overdue for a reality check.

The great irony of the just and tolerant society is that it must refuse to tolerate intolerance. At this, we have failed.

I have never before today been so ashamed of my country. It’s not like we didn’t know this was coming. We have brought it on ourselves via a legitimate democratic election (of which, absurdly, only the winner contends was marred by massive fraud). Donald Trump campaigned on his Muslim ban, and he is only delivering as promised.

Things are going to get much, much worse before they get better, but at least we have some reason for hope. The United States is fortunate in that it has a strong, independent judiciary. It is nothing short of amazing that lawyers representing victims detained at US airports have been able to win multiple injunctions barring their deportation in just one day. (If you’re not already a proud supporter of the ACLU like me, you should fix that right now.) That strong judiciary also protects our First Amendment rights (which do not, by the way, extend to my personal blog; hateful comments here will not be approved). As we enter the post-truth society where Republicans believe a separate set of “alternative facts,” it remains to be seen what all speech can still accomplish, but now is surely the time to find out. Do not remain silent. If you use social media or have a blog, you have a duty now to express your dissent. Do your part to move the needle of public opinion.

You know, you don’t need to know anyone to see that this is wrong.

7 Replies to “On Ignorance, Intolerance, and Bigotry”

  1. An Evangelical Christian worldview is the driving behind Trump’s Muslim ban. 80% of white American Evangelical Christians voted for Trump [1]. They are the largest religious group in the U.S. [2]. Many Evangelicals are distinctive in the degree to which they see the world through the lens of an American-led struggle against Islam [3].

    At least 40% of white Evangelicals hold hardline foreign policy views, a striking figure among Americans [4]. For some years political scientists have been reporting that Evangelical doctrine is strongly associated with militarism [5], meaning Evangelicals believe war to be moral and that the U.S. government should be aggressive in pursuing it.

    Evangelical militarism is supported by two beliefs: (a) that the U.S. has a divine mandate to lead the world, making it exceptional in international politics [6], and (b) that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation and that the government today should reflect Christian norms, which scholars and journalists call Christian nationalism.

    Evangelicals are the country’s most fervent Christian nationalists [7]. Political scientists have found Christian nationalism to be a primary cause of prejudice against American Muslims [8] and hostility toward immigrants in general [7]. No Americans rate Muslims lower than white Evangelicals [9].

    Incidentally, compared to other religious groups, Evangelicals are the country’s biggest supporters of torture [10].

    Full disclosure: I’m a non-immigrant graduate student in the U.S., and my wife is Iranian, also a non-immigrant. Trump’s Muslim ban affects us personally.

    [1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/11/09/exit-polls-show-white-evangelicals-voted-overwhelmingly-for-donald-trump/
    [2] http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/
    [3] http://www.sbts.edu/resources/magazines/the-challenge-of-islam-a-christian-perspective/
    [4] http://www.politicsandreligionjournal.com/images/pdf_files/engleski/volume7_no2/guth.pdf
    [5] http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s0022381608080328
    [6] http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15570274.2012.682497
    [7] http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1532673×10371300
    [8] http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1755048315000322
    [9] http://www.pewforum.org/2014/07/16/how-americans-feel-about-religious-groups/
    [10] http://www.pewforum.org/2009/04/29/the-religious-dimensions-of-the-torture-debate/

  2. Well this really isn’t a news, you’ve been banning people from participating in your Outreachy (and much more) programs which are claiming to work towards neutrality , from those countries since ages.
    And you’ve been responsible of many deaths due to putting sanctions over Iran’s civilian airplanes and even medicine.

    Now it has just gotten a bit worse and visible.

    “You” means US government which is elected by US citizens, not necessarily a singular “you”.

  3. Didn’t Iran make the choice to escalate the travel ban on their end?
    Do we blame the US President for the choices of Iranian leadership?
    Why did your Iranian associate leave Iran in the first place?

    In any case, the harsh implications you’re making will erode the friendship of those who are a degree more skeptical than you, but who otherwise share a common interest and respect for free software.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  4. Why is this post on Planet Gnome?! Keep this political crap off technical blog aggregators please.

    1. I’m going to keep writing. You can complain to the Planet GNOME maintainers if you want; they have the ability to switch to my GNOME-only feed. I actually thought they were using it already.

      1. (Turns out I deliberately put this in my GNOME feed, and forgot I did so. I’ve decided to keep it there. Diversity is a core value of the GNOME community.)

    2. If you think technology has not political implications then I strongly suggest you stop using technology — or, at the very least, stop following Planet GNOME.

      Technology is made by people, and people are political.

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