Yesterday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. 70 years ago on January 27th, Auschwitz was liberated. I was thinking about this as I was walking home from work. I walk past Brown University’s Hillel on my walk. Yesterday, there was an armed police officer standing guard outside the entrance. I’ve never seen that before. I don’t know for sure if the cop was standing guard because Holocaust Remembrance Day is a day that anti-semites would target Jews with violence, but I’m guessing that’s the case. Probably the most effective memorial I saw was this twitter account which read out the names of Jewish refugees who were denied entry into the United States in 1939 and were forced to return to Europe, where they were killed.
My name is Regina Blumenstein. The US turned me away at the border in 1939. I was murdered in Auschwitz
— St. Louis Manifest (@Stl_Manifest) January 28, 2017
Yesterday was also the day that President Trump signed an executive order banning refugees from entering the United States, including those who have been completely vetted. The order further bans entry or re-entry to 500,000 visa-holders and green card holders (legal, permanent residents!) from seven majority-Muslim nations on the flimsy pretext of “9/11!” (none of the 9/11 attackers were from those seven nations). Finally, as if that all wasn’t bad enough, the order establishes a religious tests for future refugees. Trump has explicitly stated this was aimed to help Christians. Vox has a useful breakdown of what the order does here. Duck of Minerva has a more pointed take here: “Trump to Omran: Die, Kid.” The order may well be illegal under the 1965 Immigration Act and CAIR is filing a suit challenging it on constitutional, religious freedom grounds. The International Refugee Assistance Project has filed suit specifically on behalf of two refugees who were en route when the order was signed and who were denied admission to the US.
To recap: on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the President ordered a ban on refugees based on religion. This is exactly as bad as it sounds. What can we do about it? Below are a few of my immediate thoughts. Please post your own ideas and plans in the comments.
Sign a petition. The Whitehouse.gov petition site is still open and there’s a relevant petition here. As a warning, there have been some issues with the site in the past few days, though insiders think they are due to incompetence, not malice. There is also a petition for academics with an impressive list of signatories that has been circulating widely and has received some press coverage. Add you name by emailing by filling in this form. So far 36 sociologists have signed. We can do better.
Contact your representative and senators and ask them to speak out against the ban. As far as I can tell, not a single Republican has spoken out publicly against the order and I’ve only seen statements from a few Democrats. Remember that as recently as last year, the GOP opposed a Muslim ban. If you’ve never called before, this guide from Indivisible is fantastic. One of my Senators is having a listening event tomorrow. I’ll be there, and I will try to raise this issue.
Write an op-ed or letter to the editor opposing the ban. The Op-Ed project has submission information for hundreds of newspapers. It’s easy, and it matters, especially for local papers that might not get as much attention.
What else should we be doing?