Have we ever seen this version of America before?
President Donald Trump has issued an executive order barring all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days, and banning Syrian refugees indefinitely. The order also prevents citizens of seven majority Muslim nations from coming into the country for 90 days.
To put it bluntly, the order looks a lot like the edict of a dictator. And as it was issued suddenly and with immediate effect, many people have been detained upon arrival at U.S. airports or been barred from boarding U.S.-bound flights. Even as we write this, the chaos the Trump order has created continues to spread worldwide.
According to Trump himself, his order is meant to protect the U.S. from terrorist attacks, and is merely a temporary measure as the government sets new, stricter immigration checks. However, this is the same man who, during the presidential election campaign, pledged to close America's borders to all Muslims. His discriminatory and exclusionist attitude is plain to see.
The presidential order looks like an attempt to psychologically isolate the U.S. from Muslim majority nations. To discriminate against people for the country of their birth is unconscionable. The order's anti-refugee angle is also extremely problematic from a human rights standpoint. It's perfectly natural that Muslim and European countries have spoken out against it.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has thus far avoided criticizing the order directly, but he should declare his position on the matter soon.
Doubt and protest are spreading across the U.S. as well. A federal judge in New York blocked part of Trump's order with a ruling preventing the deportation of valid U.S. visa holders. Furthermore, the attorneys general of 15 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia issued a joint statement calling the Trump order unconstitutional. In practical terms, the order targets Muslims -- a violation of the U.S. Constitution's provisions against discrimination based on religion.
America's conscience, its better nature, is reflected in the scale of these protests.
Trump should rescind his immigration order. The United States is an immigrant nation, and its tremendous creativity and soft power grows out of the diversity of its residents. Some of the U.S.'s top companies are expressing fears about what a presidential order that damages this diversity will do.
What's more, the order's stated reason for being -- to protect the U.S. from terrorists -- has major issues as well. Homegrown terror is a serious problem in the country, and there have been more than a few cases of residents absorbing dangerous ideas from the internet. Exclusionism seems likely to light a fire under potential terrorists already living in the U.S.
Trump's immigration order paired with his desire to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem reveals his pro-Israel, anti-Islam and anti-Arab attitude. However, the Trump administration must not forget that, while America has always been a staunch Israeli ally, it has also played a central role in promoting peace in the Middle East.
In the vast ocean that is the some 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, only a drop consists of extremists. To look on all regular Muslims as enemies is a terrible mistake. It looks like Trump's exclusionism and divisiveness are getting him stuck in a "clash of civilizations" mental rut. If that is indeed the case, then it is not just the U.S. that will suffer, but the entire world.