I’ve just been on my first protest in 23 years, to protest against the travel ban imposed by Executive Order under President Donald J. Trump.
The travel ban imposed against seven countries is not exactly a ban on Muslims; although these are Muslim majority countries, the ban does not include Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Dubai or Lebanon.
However, it is intended to ban Muslims from the countries on the list; those from minority religions are specifically excluded.
In practice, the ban has been much more severe than was legally allowable even under the draconian Executive Order. This was, no doubt, because Department of Homeland Security (DHS) staff were told how to interpret it by the National Security Council (NSC). The NSC that now includes White Supremacist Steve Bannon, but no longer includes the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or the Director of National Intelligence. People you might think have an input on, well, National Security.
In practice the ban has led to children being handcuffed, babies being left unfed as mothers were put in cells, at least one death as a woman who needed urgent surgery was turned back at the airport, and several tens of thousands of unfair, unnecessary and unAmerican actions against refugees and even those with leave to remain in the United States (Green Card Holders).
The ban does not apply to joint UK Passport Holders, so as a UK Passport Holder it could not apply to me, even if I had been born in one of the relevant countries. So why did I protest today?
Well first of all, the Rule of Law is important to me. The imposition of this Executive Order breaks the US Constitution (the Equal Protection clause) and is fundamentally against a number of treaties signed by previous US Presidents and ratified by Congress. In its intent, in its drafting and in its practice, this Executive Order is unconstitutional and illegal, which is why a stay was issued by the Federal Court in Washington State. No doubt the Department of Justice (about to become an oxymoron under AG Sessions) will appeal to the Ninth Circuit, although if they lose there they might want to reconsider before sending it to the Supreme Court of the United States, since they will almost certainly throw it out and that could make life harder for this administration. We can only hope.
Secondly, I want to be able to look future generations in the eye and tell them that when this awful man with tiny hands tried to turn the Republic into an Empire, I was one of millions who stood up and said no.
Thirdly, I wanted to stand in solidarity with the millions of honest Americans who have been appalled at what this monster is doing to their country in just two weeks. In towns and cities across America, people are standing up and saying no. They need to know that the world stands with them.
So my answer to the question “why were you marching” has got to be why weren’t you!