Of course it’s a Muslim ban

After spending a couple days on Facebook listening to really silly arguments about how President Trump’s moratorium is not a ban on Muslims I felt like I might try to add some common sense.

  1. The President is fully within his rights to issue this order. He may end it early or extend it at his sole discretion.
  2. He has consistently said the order is about protecting Americans from terrorism.
  3. He has consistently said the terrorism threat is from Islamic Extremists.
  4. According to the CIA World Fact Book, about 98% of those living in the countries covered by the ban are Muslims. If you exclude Syria, it’s 99%.

Objection: It’s not a Muslim ban because non-Muslims from those countries are also affected.

I use the old math, but I think 98% is a pretty big number. If I told you that I spent 7 hours and 50 minutes playing video games and 10 minutes checking email from work, the natural conclusion you would make is that I took the day off. You would be right. This is really not even close.

Objection: Obama did the same thing in 2011 and nobody called it a Muslim Ban.

Nobody called what President Obama did in 2011 a Muslim ban, because it’s not the same thing. After arresting two Iraqis on terror charges who had ties to terrorism in Iraq, the Obama administration slowed down the visa process for Iraqis. There was never a shutdown, and no person seeking a visa was ultimately denied one. This is different because of the scope of the ban, the amateurish way it was implemented, and the fact that there is no actual cause or trigger to do it other than a campaign promise.

Objection: He’s not targeting Muslims

The hypocrisy in this one is really amazing to me. The whole campaign, Trump said his opponent wasn’t worthy of being Commander in Chief because she wouldn’t even name the enemy. Trump repeatedly named his Public Enemy #1 as Islamic extremists not only in extemporaneous speeches but in written communication that was presumably thought out. Here’s what he published after his infamous Muslim ban speech.

“Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”

I would expect him to at least respect the intelligence of the public enough to admit that he’s just doing what he promised to do in the election cycle. If he was intellectually honest he would not have stopped at the seven nations and would have included places like Saudi Arabia, home of Osama bin Ladin and the vast majority of the 9/11 terrorists.

My friend Kevin Carson has posted a helpful article on how Christians ought to think about the ban and if you are interested you can read it here.

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The Deal of the Art

Donald Trump has no doubt mastered the art of dealing with an angry Republican base. His campaign and his detractors all agree on this point. The question that has been in my mind for nearly a year now is how in the world that makes him qualified to be President, or garners the support of so many people who have been consistently on the right (conservative) side of politics.

I think I could write a book about my quandary but have chosen to limit my thoughts here. It’s clear at this point that the majority of Trump supporters are never going to be persuaded that he is a bad idea so the point of this blog is actually just self-therapy to let me think out loud about my confusion.

  • The same people who said Bill Clinton was untrustworthy and unfit because he was unfaithful to his wife seem to have no problem with a guy who cheated on then discarded one wife when she got too old for him, and then dumped the other in a financial move intended to save him tens of millions of dollars.
  • Trump argues that he’s a great deal maker. The reality is that the best deals he has made have been his bankruptcies. In his own words “I used the law four times and made a tremendous thing. I’m in business. I did a very good job.” Another time he said “If you owe the bank $100, that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.” Let’s understand what happens in a bankruptcy. You let your mismanagement of resources result in basically stealing what is owed to another person. So rather than pay the bank his $100 million, maybe he pays them $70 million and they call it even. Who pays the other $30 million? You and I do, and other people who are either taxpayers or shareholders of the bank.
  • Often, in exchange for the bankruptcy “restructuring”, the people who are owed money get some kind of asset in return. This is exactly what Trump did – he gave away large percentages of the organizations that filed bankruptcy. Doing this as President would be like handing over much of the country to the people we own $18 trillion. (In one of his bankruptcies he gave away 50% of the organization to reduce the debt.) Who would pay for that Trump “negotiation”? Once again it would not be Trump’s personal fortunes – it would be other people who paid that price. Everyday Americans will bear that burden whether he cuts a deal by actually giving away America or by doing something back door like simply devaluing the currency to make it easier to pay back all this debt.
  • The same people who say President Obama was elected on a slogan (Hope and Change) that was never defined seem fine with supporting a guy who is doing exactly the same thing without ever defining it.
  • The same people who got all over John Kerry for flip flopping on key issues don’t seem to care that Trump has flip flopped on the Iraq war, abortion, drug legalization, tax policy, gun control, universal healthcare, Social Security modernization, how he feels about Hillary Clinton, Syrian refugees, federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and whether he’s even a Republican.
  • It seems like eight years ago most Trump supporters would have said that we should not elect a charismatic candidate that can rally crowds and say things they like to hear without any actual substance behind them. Trump certainly has more life experience than President Obama did as he entered the Presidential race then, but the most common answer for why Trump supporters like him is that he is charismatic and says the things they want to hear.
  • Trump is a regular politician, not some kind of outsider. What was a twice divorced, Christian in name only, rarely even in church guy doing on the campus of Liberty University if not simply pandering like every other politician would do? (BTW – I don’t blame him, I just find it evidence that he’s not as different as he’d like everyone to believe he is.)
  • This might be a pet peeve, but the guy never even finishes a sentence. He starts answering a questions, interrupts himself to say how great his is, then changes the topic. Sounds just like a politician to me.
  • Everything he says is over the top. Everything is great, wonderful, fantastic, better that we every hoped, blah blah blah. It’s so disingenuous. I heard one interview where he was talking about “all the great leaders” who were supporting him. The interviewer asked him to name just one of them and Trump refused. I think he’s basically making things up as he goes.
  • Speaking of making things up as he goes, the guy gives absolutely no specifics on anything. He just says he’s going to make America great again. He says things like “I am going to save Social Security without any cuts. I know where to get the money from. Nobody else does.” It’s okay to change positions on things, but when you have done it as much as Trump I think it’s especially important to lay out an actual plan to demonstrate your commitment to the new position(s).

Thanks for reading. I know I won’t change anyone’s mind but it helped me to remind myself that my hope is in Jesus Christ and not in Washington D.C. I do not believe a Christian can only vote for a Christian, but I do think part of being a good steward of what God has entrusted to us is to ask whether we are voting with a God focus or some other focus. The mission of God is to make Jesus’ name great, not to make America great. We need to work hard to protect ourselves from being pressed into the world’s mold in political life and every other facet of life.