Why We Should be Thankful for Trump’s Muslim Ban Comments

Finally Donald Trump said publicly what many—not all—American institutions, individuals, decision-makers, bankers, capital owners, media pundits, corporations, and knowledge producers have been promoting and working tirelessly to achieve for many decades behind the scenes. Donald Trump’s comments on a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States while we figure out what the hell is going on,” should come as no surprise to any vigilant observer or honest thinker. The surprise is that many will now pretend to be shocked and appalled by these comments, while knowing deep down that this is precisely how the system has always functioned when it comes to its treatment of blacks, Hispanics, Muslims in general, and the people of the Middle East in particular. If you don’t believe me, ask millions and millions of blacks and Hispanics in the US about how they feel. If you don’t believe me, ask millions and millions of displaced, disempowered, and disenfranchised immigrants, refugees, exiled, and even American citizens who come from demonized and stigmatized countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Syria, and many other places, including people from Latin and South America, who also run for their lives seeking shelter in the belly of the beast that caused their misfortune in the first place. These people run from death and violence to often hold menial jobs and endure incredible and unforgivable amounts of racism and hatred by some of the most inhumane US institutions and corporations in place.

We shouldn’t be surprised that Trump made such comments, we should be surprised if the world hasn’t yet noticed all the racism, bigotry, and demonization these people have been enduring in the US for so long. Make no mistake, the establishment, through its immediate hypocritical denouncements of Trump’s remarks by both Republicans and Democrats, is not enraged by the comments per se, it is enraged because someone who happens to be running for a position as high as a presidential candidate, and who happens to be more publicly open about his bigotry than most candidates from both political parties would hope him to be, has publicly articulated the already-existing and deep-rooted hatred against the peoples of the Middle East. Both political parties, in my analysis, are very concerned that Trump’s comments are going to actually trigger a real conversation about what have already been the unwritten laws and rules of conduct against these people. They are worried that these comments, as racist and bigoted as they are, will finally trigger conversations about the right questions. The reactions of Republicans and Democrats to Trump remind me in a sense of a line from Thomas Pynchon’s novel, Gravity’s Rainbow: “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” Trump’s remarks carry the danger of making the American people question the entire system by asking the right questions.

Indeed, Trump’s words unveil many important issues, and we should be thankful that someone at this level—a presidential candidate—has finally spelled it out to those who are still acting dumb at this point. At the same time, we should closely analyze some of the reactions that immediately followed by officials from both political parties in the US, who have never agreed on simple, basic human rights for American citizens like universal healthcare and education, but who somehow miraculously seem to be united in their rejection to Trump’s remarks.

First, if we consider the timing of these comments, with the attempts in states like Texas calling for total ban on Syrian refugees, after Syria has been destroyed by the US and her “allies” under the pretext of “democratizing” it and getting rid of Bashar al-Asad, then Trump’s comments reveal the intertwined, intimate, and dialectical relationship between the military-industrial complex and the refugee-industrial-complex in the US. It shows how they both make, feed, and serve each other. The task of the military-industrial-complex is to select countries to destroy as part of the plan to create a new world order in line with what the US and her “allies” want to achieve. Note how I always put “allies” in quotation marks, because I do believe that a day will come when the American people will discover very late in the game that their “best allies” were never truly allies; they were rather wolves dressed as sheep. The refugee-industrial-complex, on the other hand, has the job of bringing usually a very small number of refugees as a façade to show that the US is a humanitarian nation that cares about saving human lives from countries ruled by dictators who “kill their own people”. Here, I would like for us to dwell on the notion of “dictators killing their own people,” which is quite problematic and misleading.

First, the notion presumes that killing one’s own people is only done by directly using weapons and prisons, as commonly cited when referring to Arab dictators, but it overlooks the many other indirect ways through which a state can kill its own people, like denying them decent, livable wages; healthy, chemical-free, non-cancerous foods; access to decent basic healthcare and good education; and many other basic human rights that are a privilege not a right in the US. Never mind that the US doesn’t even come close in providing these basic needs whose lack can easily make any state responsible for “killing its own people”, I am not disclosing a secret when I say that the US equally fails in the test of not directly killing its own people through imprisoning and shooting blacks, immigrants, and Muslims.

The second serious problem with the statement of dictators “killing their own people” is the failure of many so-called academics and intellectuals who contribute to knowledge production in interrogating it in an honest manner, which, to me means that the starting point is always to look at how the US kills its own people. Once that is determined and confirmed, it would be hard to make the case that the US is in a position to go around the world hunting other authoritarian regimes who do kill their own people. This fact makes many academics and intellectuals—unless willing to pay a high price for speaking the truth—complicit with the agendas of the warmongers who have been exterminating the people of the Middle East for many decades now. As a result, one can’t help wondering whether the real job of many feeble and co-opted intellectuals and academics in America is to simply aid the establishment in promoting itself as a “free democracy”, and consequently aiding it with its false mission of “democratizing” other nations. Any sensible human being who has traveled a bit around the world knows that freedom is a myth that doesn’t exist anywhere. They would realize that the red lines and different forms of oppression, though change from one place to another, they actually do exist everywhere based on who is in power.

Put briefly, the intimate relationship between the military-industrial-complex and the refugee-industrial complex is that they serve each other by first destroying nations and controlling their resources; and second by bringing to the West cheap laborers who do both menial and highly skilled work. This means that the system benefits from the victims twice: once by destroying their nations and stealing their resources, and twice by capitalizing on their labor and skills. More ironically, refugees often make ideal consumers for goods produced and promoted by the same corporations and warmongers who destroyed their countries, lives, histories, and memories forever. This is why countless refugees come to the US thinking they would live in houses and neighborhoods similar to those in Desperate Housewives.

The second thing Trump’s comments reveal to us, as I noted above, is how Republicans and Democrats are in bed with each other and in full agreement when it comes to issues that matter for the well-being of the American people, like creating an honest, ethical, and sensible foreign policy that will once and for all end the death and violence equally created and maintained by both of them in the Middle East. In this regard, it is important for us to start seeing the two ruling parties as two sides of the same coin to understand why things do not get better for the American people—and for the rest of the world—when either of them is in power.

This is exactly what Emma Goldman meant when she said: “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” Goldman’s words become even more meaningful and powerful if we realize that the two ruling political parties are two sides of the same coin, because they immediately expose how the US is in fact an authoritarian state ruled by one party that pretends to be two parties! Even if we want to argue that the two parties are actually two different coins, as most people still believe, then two parties constantly winning elections and ruling a huge nation as the US is hardly a healthy sing of a real democracy. This is why I find the critique of the late historian, Howard Zinn, on the US’s invasion of Iraq important when he notes that the US went to destroy Iraq (many countries have been added to the list since) because it was an authoritarian state ruled by a single-party system. Yet, Zinn notes, we in the US are ruled and controlled by a two-party system, and a two-party system is only one party more than a one-party system! We need to take Zinn’s analysis seriously if we want a better future for the US. I say all this to pave the way and substantiate the point that the reactions of both Republicans and Democrats to Trump’s comments show how the two parties ruling us are far from democratic, and how they are more united when it comes to their self-interest, desire to remain in power, and their will to commit crimes against humanity, all in the name of the American people.

Let us start with former vice-president, Dick Cheney, who called Trump’s comments “un-American”. So, it looks as though Cheney has lost his memory about his role in what was done to Iraqi and Afghani people. Apparently, for Cheney, and all those who brought him to power and supported him throughout his tenure, it is more “American” to invade Iraq and Afghanistan and kill and displace millions and millions of people most of whom happened to be Muslims, but it is “un-American” to say publicly that we hate Muslims and ask for a total ban on them entering the country! The second reaction worth analyzing comes from house speaker and Wisconsin representative, Paul Ryan, who noted that Trump’s remarks are a violation to the constitution and were not representative of the Republican party, “Some of our best and biggest allies in this struggle and fight against radical Islam terror are Muslims,” Ryan noted. It is important to pause at the words “some of our best and biggest allies” for a moment. Here, though this may not be his actual intention, one could argue that Trump’s “while we figure out what the hell is going on,” is precisely a call to put under serious scrutiny our “best and biggest allies”, to find out whether they are really acting as allies or enemies in the struggle against radicalism in the Middle East and worldwide. The third reaction worth analyzing comes from the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, who called Trump’s comments “morally reprehensible” and who noted that what Trump said “disqualifies him from serving as president.” I find his use of the word “disqualify” significant, because it reminds us of the American writer and intellectual, Gore Vidal’s analysis on how presidential candidates in the US will only manage to get that far after having necessarily abused power and compromised their ethics. These candidates manage to get that far after having already sold the causes that matter to their people to those who fund their campaigns. In this sense, Vidal was correct to note that “Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so.” Note the difference in the criteria of what really “disqualifies” a presidential candidate from becoming a president for Earnest and for Vidal. Of course, Earnest is more interested in maintaining the status quo and the false image of what makes an ideal candidate rather than exposing the entire game as Vidal does in his short, but insightful statement.

The British prime minister was quoted as calling Trump’s comments as “divisive, unhelpful, and quite simply wrong.” Never mind that these words are coming from a country that has always aided the US in its imperial project of destroying and controlling the Middle East, including its role in Syria, the British PM’s words are mild and they really don’t show any serious interrogation of why such remarks were made by Trump in the first place. Cameron’s words are so linguistically simplistic that they can hardly be considered a genuine denouncement of Trump’s remarks. Lastly, the Republican strategist, Rick Wilson, speaking of the negative impact of Trump and his fans on the Republican party noted, “A lot of Trump’s fans and supporters don’t want the party to survive. They want a form of a populist, nationalist party that isn’t about limited government and the constitution.” Wilson’s statement is significant because, as I have been trying to argue, it shows that the outrage expressed by both ruling parties is not necessarily because of Trump’s bigotry against Muslims per se, but rather because Trump and his supporters might, by diverting from the Republican party from its current path, bring an end to the age of the two ruling parties always winning and controlling the entire system that has always been conveniently in place serving both parties, one turn at a time. It goes without saying that there is little hope to be had from any “new” party that emerges out of Trump and his fans, but nevertheless this won’t please those who would rather maintain the status quo.

In the end, if there is any useful bit in Trump’s remarks, it is in his words, “while we figure out what the hell is going on.” Do you know what is going on, Mr. Trump? What is going on is that millions and millions of people have been exterminated and displaced by the  interventions of the US and her “allies” in the Middle East and many people around the world are so hopeless, helpless, and consequently enraged at what is going on. This is why this madness needs to stop immediately. This is why the language of war, hate, racism, and invasion needs to be replaced with a language of love, peace, and genuine healing for the wounds of all these people, rather than add salt to injury by either selectively embracing the victims of these wars by co-opting and exploiting them through the refugee-industrial-complex, or by totally excluding them with the aid of the military-industrial-complex by calling for yet another moronic strategy of a total ban of an entire group of people just because they happen to be born into this religion or that, into this race or that, into this country or that. This is what the hell is going on. Do you get it now, Mr. Trump?

Louis Yako, PhD, is an independent Iraqi-American anthropologist, writer, poet, and journalist.