Trump’s most recent executive order (EO) regarding entry to the US of aliens and refugees from seven Middle Eastern countries has sparked a level of public outrage we have not seen since, well, a week ago during the “Women’s March”. At least this time the protestors have a legitimate reason to complain. This heavy-handed approach to preventing terrorist attacks in the US by barring entry of potential terrorists rests on the ill-advised principle that it is better that a thousand innocents be punished lest one guilty party go free. Some have argued that the choice of countries barred is illogical since there have been no known terrorists attacks in the US from citizens of those countries while citizens of Saudi Arabia who were involved in 9/11 are not on the list. But I would go one further: it doesn’t matter which country you put on the list, this process will be wholly ineffective. Actual terrorists trying to get in would not take the lengthy 2-year route of refugee status or try to travel commercial air where they would be quickly identified. They would find any number of other clandestine means to enter. The radicalized, but as of yet inactive, terrorist will easily pass. Lying is quite effective since we have no way to read minds or predict future events. Indeed, this EO would have not prevented the three most recent terrorist attacks in this country (Boston, Orlando, San Bernardino).
Now for the part people don’t want to hear. This action of Trump is what the state does every day: harms innocent people. For every supposed “beneficial” state action that you can point to as being “good” there are a multitude of unseen victims, sometimes unintended, sometimes intended. In that regard I’m glad Trump implemented this EO. It has finally awakened my friends on the left from their 8-year slumber. They are once again outraged when the state victimizes the individual on the altar of the nation or society. But, this reawakening will only have lasting effects if they can see and admit to themselves that what Trump is doing is a difference in degree, not kind, when compared to the actions of Obama in this arena. The US has always had policies that restricted travel of certain individuals. Sometimes when those policies were enforced innocent people were unfairly barred from entry. And sometimes those policies would arbitrarily change on a dime. Indeed just a week before he left office Obama ended a long-standing policy that would have permitted Cuban refugee (and many more just like him) Alexander Gutierrez Garcia entry into the US. Many were literally mere steps away from crossing the US-Mexico border when the order came down, crushing their dreams of freedom. So you see, a Democrat can also unfairly impose arbitrary rules that harm innocent individuals with hopes of living in the land of the free and the home of the brave. To my liberal friends, please try to remember that in 4-8 years when “your guy” (or gal) is back in office. I’ll be waiting.