O’er the Ramparts We Watch
To Be a Patriot in Trump’s America is to be a Revolutionary
I was born in France to an American mother and Spanish father. My dad, Rafael, fled Franco’s dictatorship when he was twenty-one. He lives in the United States of America thanks to a green card. But if his Spanish homeland had been Iran or Iraq or Somalia, he would now be targeted as a potential enemy of the state.
The wife of my first-cousin is a beautiful, kind, intelligent woman from Iran. Her sister, a green card holder, is currently back in Tehran with her American-born son. This past weekend, the sister was barred from re-entering the country with her child for at least 90-days; now it appears the cowards in Trump’s administration feel they have gone too far, but the damage is done. In addition to the fear, anxiety, and shame already brought upon them, my cousin and his partner have to postpone their April wedding because none of their Iranian family is allowed to celebrate one of the most important days in their daughter’s life.
Already, the hypocrisy of this administration knows no bounds. Trump’s mother was an immigrant. His father, of German-origin, changed his name from the more ethnic-sounding Drumpf. Rance Priebus’ mother was a Greek citizen born in Sudan, a country now on a Muslim ban list authorities pretend is not about Islam. Aside from foregoing their souls for cheap political gain, and instead of “ensuring protection for Americans,” what the ban has actually done is enrage people throughout the world and empower extremists everywhere. To allow Christians from these countries to enter while banning Muslims is to provide the culture war Islamic extremists have been trying to propagandize for years. The ban is not only insane, inhumane, and gravely short-sighted, it is playing into the extremist idea of an ideological war. And even if we were to suspend our rage and disbelief and entertain the administration’s reasons for a travel ban—as if in some dystopian world banning people based on their ethnicity resulted in more security versus less — why is Afghanistan not on the list, Al Qaida’s ideological homeland, or Saudia Arabia, a violent exporter of Wahhabist Islam and the producer of 15 out of 19 hijackers in 2001?
Donald Trump is incapable of admitting that he is wrong. This is one of the reasons we know he is an indecent human being. Each time he has been presented with the opportunity to apologize or make amends, he doubles down on the lifetime of assholery that has thrust him towards notoriety. In a few days or weeks we can expect to see an expanded list of banned countries, which Reince Priebus already alluded to in an interview with NBC. I imagine the list of seven (Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Iran, Somalia, and Sudan) will soon mutate to include Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, and a host of other African nations soon to be considered “danger zones.” Greece may not be far behind, either, because of its location at the European corridor and the Syrian refugee crisis. A few months later, we might expect to see citizens of France and Belgium being vetted with extreme prejudice, for the suburbs of Paris and Brussels have also produced violent terrorists. And once that happens even Americans will be at risk because the fact is terrorists are not defined by their passports — the San Bernadino and Orlando shooters were just as American as Trump.
Before the idea of America further deteriorates, it is important to put faces to the people affected by these anti-Muslim and anti-American bans. Trump’s supporters are our neighbors, not our enemies. We must help them understand that this affects all of us . And if the minority of ardent bigots say, “Well, too bad for your cousin, he’s married to an Iranian,” we must respectfully remove ourselves from the conversation and find solidarity with the vast majority of Americans who oppose Donald Trump. The truth is most us did not vote for the man, and I repeat this not only because it is a historical fact but because it deeply bothers him. Nothing hurts a person obsessed with being popular more than the proof that he isn’t popular at all. This is essential, that we make Trump’s administration feel utterly alone. And if they feel backed into the corner, so be it. If Trump reacts like he has always reacted (see: petulant child), we must be ready to face the consequences of a lunatic administration that seems to have no problem lashing out.
In the next days, weeks, and months we can expect to be shocked. We can expect to be tear-gassed. We can expect to be appalled. This is only the beginning of what totalitarianism looks like. But it also provides a legitimate vision of an American revolution. After this weekend, the difference between feeling protected by a country and feeling like an enemy of the state can come down to whether a flight has already taken off or not. And so as we watch the overt actions of a totalitarian regime destroy the myths we once had about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we also see the emergence of a silver lining in the images from airports throughout the country.
True power lies with the people, not the government. Whether or not we decide to take action will largely depend on if we feel personally affected by Trump’s policies. For me and my cousin and his family in Iran, a wedding has been cancelled, a child must return to America without his mother, and an entire family is unsure when it will see its daughter again. And so I urge everyone reading this to reflect on how quickly political lunacy can become personal. After just one week, for me it is clear that to be a patriot in Trump’s America is to join the revolutionaries at the ramparts.