Tampa, FL – On Jan. 27, President Trump signed an executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” which bars entry of nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries regardless of whether they have valid visas, green cards or refugee status.
This is a racist attack that specifically targets the people of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. These same countries in the Middle East and Africa have been subjected to the terror of U.S. wars, bombings and economic sanctions for decades. With military bases in foreign lands, armed personnel in 130 countries, and a military budget larger than the next ten governments combined, the U.S. ruling class maintain a worldwide empire of oppression that is constantly at war.
Sovereign governments that dare not bow to U.S. political and economic domination are punished with crippling sanctions as a form of collective punishment against civilians, and are targeted for brutal overthrow through direct invasion or proxy groups. Sanctions on Iran alone have resulted in massive inflation and 40% of the entire population in poverty, while the total death toll from ten years of the U.S.-led ‘War on Terror is estimated at 2 million lives, according to a study from Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Trump’s executive order calls for a review of the visa and refugee programs arguing “numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since Sept. 11, 2001.” But why should people perceive ‘foreign-born terrorists’ as grave domestic threats when the FBI continually manufactures its own plots? In 2012, Petra Bartosiewicz in The Nation reviewed the post-9/11 body of terrorism cases and concluded that nearly every major post-9/11 terrorism-related prosecution has involved a sting operation, at the center of which is a government informant. Many informants are incentivized by money, and can be paid as much as $100,000 per assignment. The U.S. government provides the weapons, suggests the targets, and entraps Muslims to justify their ‘War on Terror.’
The billions invested yearly by the U.S. government into racist state repression and genocidal wars for corporate profit could instead be used to finance and improve education, health care, people's rights and welfare. However, it is not in the interests of bank-bailing and investor-driven politicians to make such radical changes a reality. Only through organizing independent of the political establishment controlled by and built for the rich can oppressed people harness and exercise our collective power as a conscious and united force to demand change. Through coordinated action we are saying that there can be no ‘business as usual’ until our demands are met, and that the ruling class who own everything in society can’t actually produce anything or make schools run without subservient students or workers.
A federal judge issued a temporary halt on Feb. 4 against the Muslim ban after tens of thousands of people protested in airports, communities and campuses across the country. Around 1000 Yemini owned stores closed for eight hours on Feb. 2 in the city of New York. Grassroots, mass-based organizations such as Arab American Action Network (AAAN) and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) have continued to organize and raise demands for sanctuary campuses and cities. The Council on American and Islamic Relations (CAIR) has engaged in a legal battle with the Trump administration over the ban.
Additionally, one of the biggest victories for Muslim communities recently was the dismantling of a long existent bi-partisan Muslim registry called the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). NSEERS devastated our communities, alongside aggressive FBI surveillance and vicious entrapment. Thousands of families were torn apart, jobs were lost; some communities never fully recovered. Only after 14 years of almost constant organizing by groups such as Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) was it successfully dismantled.
The lesson of our recent victories, and nearly every historic struggle that won people's basic rights under this system, is that we need to build organizational power opposed to both parties of the capitalist 1% and their oppressive policies. Organizing paves the way for people to learn through struggle the necessity of organization as a means to protect their rights and welfare, a lesson we must consistently summate when educating our communities about their rights.