image: Wikimedia commons (link).
The executive order signed at the Pentagon on January 27th (Friday) suspending the issuance of visas and other immigration benefits to all immigrants -- as well as green-card holders -- from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for ninety days, and suspending the entire refugee admissions program for one hundred twenty days, is of course reprehensible, and immediately drew outraged protests around the country today.
A judge in Brooklyn issued an emergency stay preventing enforcement of some of its provisions on January 28th (Saturday).
In his speech "But if not," the title of which is taken from Daniel 3: 18 concerning civil disobedience by the three youths to the order of Nebuchadnezzar, Martin Luther King, Jr. declared:
Ultimately, you must do right because it's right to do right. You've got to say "But if not." You must love ultimately because it's lovely to love. You must be just because it's right to be just. You must be honest because it's right to be honest. [ . . .] You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be, and one day some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon to you to stand up for some great issue, some great principle, some great cause -- and you refuse to do it because you are afraid, you refuse to do it because your want to live longer, you're afraid that you will lose your job, or you're afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, you're afraid that someone will stab you or shoot at you or bomb your house, so you refuse to take the stand. Well, you may go on to live until you are 90, but you are just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of the earlier death of the spirit. You died when you refused to stand up for right. You died when you refused to stand up for truth. You died when you refused to stand up for justice.
And so it is of course right to stand up against the injustice of this executive order. But as heartening as the protests against it have been, and the publicity that opposition has received, the refugees and immigrants from those countries might be asking themselves where the outrage and the protests and media attention has been regarding the non-stop bombing, invasions, drone strikes, and "support for moderate rebels" over the past sixteen years.
Those invasions, bombings, and drone strikes have killed and crippled multiple hundreds of thousands of innocent people (including women and children, infants and elderly alike) in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Syria (all countries named in the above order), not to mention Afghanistan, Pakistan, and many others -- and the level of protest against those killings and maimings has been almost nonexistent (particularly in contrast to the level of protest among the citizenry during the years of the Vietnam War).
The executive order suspending issuance of visas and suspending the refugee admissions program, the full text of which can be seen here, explicitly points to the heinous attacks of September 11, 2001 as its justification -- naming those attacks in the first paragraph of section 1, and then repeating that date again in reference to "numerous terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001" in the paragraph immediately following.
The same heinous attacks continue to be referenced as justification for the unending invasions, bombings, regime changes, and drone strikes which the federal government of the united states has launched since that date.
And yet there should at this point be grave doubts -- including among members of the military who were present at the Pentagon during the signing of this order -- regarding the veracity of the assertion that (as the order says) "19 foreign nationals" brought down three modern steel-framed skyscrapers at the World Trade Center complex in New York City, and punched a hole through the Pentagon itself.
In the immediate aftermath of those dreadful attacks, and the massive loss of life that those attacks caused, one could perhaps be expected to uncritically accept that narrative regarding "19 foreign nationals" -- but now, sixteen years later, the amount of evidence and the amount of serious analysis by engineers, architects and scientists which has been produced should suffice to cause everyone on earth to have serious questions regarding the official narrative of the events of that terrible day. For two videos examining just a small sample of that evidence, see this previous post from this past September 11th.
If the massive death and destruction on September 11th, 2001 was not in fact wrought by "19 foreign nationals" as we have been told, and as we continue to be told, then not only is this executive order suspending refugees and immigrants from those war-torn countries outrageous and unjust (and it is in fact both outrageous and unjust, even if you do accept that conventional narrative regarding the mass-murders on September 11th), but the non-stop invasions, regime changes, bombing operations, and drone strikes which also continue to use September 11th as justification are also outrageous and unjust and in fact unlawful and criminal (a case can be made that they are all of these things, even if you do accept the conventional narrative regarding the mass-murders on September 11th).
We should be protesting the executive order which is disrupting and endangering the lives of refugees and immigrants -- but how much more should we be protesting the enormous death and destruction that has been inflicted upon, and that continues to be inflicted upon, the men and women living in six out of the seven countries named in that ban, as well as upon men and women living in many other countries in that part of the world which are not named in the ban?
This weekend's events provide a particularly stark example of one way in which control over the narrative of history can be used to subvert human rights and justice -- and how the ghosts of "past history" which has not been honestly faced and examined will continue to haunt us here in the present moment. Because it isn't actually "the past" in that case, is it?
In the ancient myths, when a horrible crime or an affront to the gods is covered-over, instead of being faced and rectified, the divine realm will continue to send disasters, monsters, signs, and omens until the cause of the disfavor of heaven is discovered and corrected.
It is well and good to be outraged over the injustice of this particular executive order. But until we honestly face and confront the even larger and more terrible outrages and atrocities taking place in non-stop wars of aggression following immediately after September 11, 2001 and continuing to this very moment -- and until we honestly face and confront the terrible events of that awful day -- that outrage will fall short.
And we will have to ask ourselves, as we listen again to the words of Dr. King from 1967 -- fifty years ago this November -- whether we are refusing to stand up for right, whether we are refusing to stand up for truth, and whether we are refusing to stand up for justice.