“In Spain he is known as El Coco, a ghost with a pumpkin head”

January 31, 2017

 

MASS PROTESTS AND SILENCE

“... But whereas those protesting Trump are in many ways correct, the self-righteousness and double standards of some is troubling. Indeed if the more hysterical among Trump’s opponents continue to dominate the debate, it may even increase sympathy and support for Trump among the undecided middle ground – thereby increasing his re-election prospects should he stand again in four years...

They were largely silent when, during his time in office, Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in history, and when in 2011, Obama stopped admitting Iraqi refugees for six months while the vetting process was re-evaluated. Obama was welcomed to the UK on five visits without significant protest, whereas 1.5 million people have signed a petition in the last three days demanding Trump be refused one.

Here are the numbers of Syrian refugees Obama let in to America as the war raged and while chemical weapons and barrel bombs were deployed against women and children by Assad and the Iranians:

2011: 29
2012: 31
2013: 36
2014: 105

And there were few, if any, mass protests as thousands of refugees and migrants died trying to reach Greece or Italy – partly as the consequence of a war in Libya, which the Obama administration, along with Britain and France, played a decisive role in. Or when, during Obama’s final week in office, many Cubans with legal visas for the U.S. were reportedly detained at U.S. airports, and then deported, and others were turned back at the Mexican border. And why weren’t there rallies demanding to allow in Yazidis, fleeing danger, death and slavery? After all, unlike many Sunni Arabs, they had nowhere else to go.”

 

I attach a piece that I have written for the British magazine, The Spectator. It is critical of Donald Trump’s executive order on migrants and refugees, but questions the wisdom of the way some people are protesting against them.

Douglas Murray also published an article today in The Spectator, which looks at the issue from a different perspective. I attach that piece below.

And before that, there’s an article by Clare Foges in The Times (of London), from which the title of this dispatch derives.

-- Tom Gross

 

TRUMP IS WRONG – BUT MANY OF HIS CRITICS ARE PLAYING INTO HIS HANDS

The self-righteous backlash to Trump’s immigration ban could play into his hands
By Tom Gross
The Spectator
January 31, 2017

There are a lot of links in this article which you can click on here, on The Spectator website

Donald Trump’s executive order which, he says, was aimed at making it harder for terrorists to enter America, targets three groups: refugees in general, who are blocked from entering the U.S. for the next 120 days; refugees from Syria, who may be barred indefinitely; and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries (countries initially selected by the Obama administration), who are barred from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days.

The executive order is morally unacceptable (it amounts to collective punishment), strategically dubious (since many terrorists are home-grown or came from countries other than those seven), and was initially implemented in a confusing and clumsy way which caused distress and uncertainty to many travellers, including U.S. residents, even if they were not in the end affected by the order.

Additionally, it sets an anti-immigrant tone, when immigrants can hugely benefit their new countries. Just in the hi-tech sector alone, many of America’s greatest companies have been founded by Jewish child refugees: Google creator Sergei Brin fled anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union with his parents in 1979; Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp, says he escaped anti-Semitism in Ukraine with his mother in 1992; and Andy Grove, who survived the Holocaust in hiding as a child in Hungary while his family were deported to Auschwitz, went on to found Intel.

There have been success stories of migrants of Syrian origin too. The biological father of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was Abdulfattah Jandali who was born into a Muslim family in Homs, Syria. How many of us today would be worse off if we didn’t have an iPhone or iPad? On a side note, the comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s mother was from a family of Syrian Jews who had left Syria partly because of anti-Jewish prejudice there.

In Britain, Muslim and Hindu migrants have made a huge contribution in many fields, notably medicine. In the arts and politics too, migrants have enriched society – the Saatchi brothers, for instance, were Jewish refugees from Iraq.

But whereas those protesting Trump are in many ways correct, the self-righteousness and double standards of some is troubling. Indeed if the more hysterical among Trump’s opponents continue to dominate the debate, it may even increase sympathy and support for Trump among the undecided middle ground – thereby increasing his re-election prospects should he stand again in four years.

Let’s be clear: the war in Syria descended into barbarity in part because President Obama encouraged the rebels, and the Sunni majority population of Syria who supported them, promising them arms and protection, and then abandoned them. Obama went on to release billions of dollars in funds to the Iranian regime, whose forces and Shia militia in Syria have done much, if not most, of the killing there these past six years. The new funds helped the Iranians fuel the effort to ethnically cleanse Sunnis from Syria, leading many to seek sanctuary in Europe and beyond.

While millions of people in America, Britain and elsewhere have protested Trump’s refugee policies in just one week, they had little to say about Obama’s foreign policies over the last eight years.

They were largely silent when, during his time in office, Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in history, and when in 2011, Obama stopped admitting Iraqi refugees for six months while the vetting process was re-evaluated. Obama was welcomed to the UK on five visits without significant protest, whereas 1.5 million people have signed a petition in the last three days demanding Trump be refused one.

Here are the numbers of Syrian refugees Obama let in to America as the war raged and while chemical weapons and barrel bombs were deployed against women and children by Assad and the Iranians:

2011: 29
2012: 31
2013: 36
2014: 105

And there were few, if any, mass protests as thousands of refugees and migrants died trying to reach Greece or Italy – partly as the consequence of a war in Libya, which the Obama administration, along with Britain and France, played a decisive role in. Or when, during Obama’s final week in office, many Cubans with legal visas for the U.S. were reportedly detained at U.S. airports, and then deported, and others were turned back at the Mexican border. And why weren’t there rallies demanding to allow in Yazidis, fleeing danger, death and slavery? After all, unlike many Sunni Arabs, they had nowhere else to go.

I don’t recall mass protests when, last October, a 500lb laser-guided U.S.-made bomb was dropped on a funeral procession in Yemen killing more than 140 people and wounding 525 others. Or on the many other occasions during the Obama presidency when Muslim civilians, including pregnant women, were killed by U.S. drone strikes in several Muslim countries. (For sure, these deaths weren’t deliberate, but they were a direct result of the military and foreign policy choices Obama took).

Owen Jones, a leading columnist at The Guardian, helped promote last night’s “Emergency demo against Trump’s #MuslimBan” outside 10 Downing Street.But where was the protest when Israelis were banned from Malaysia and 15 other Muslim-majority countries – including Yemen, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Iran, the same countries whose citizens will now face increased vetting before visiting the U.S.?Where were the mass protests when Muslim preacher Hamza Sodagar, who gives sermons explaining how gay people should be beheaded or thrown off cliffs (actions that have since occurred in the Islamic State) was invited to Britain to give a series of lectures last October?

Do those media columnists attacking Trump’s plans for a wall on the Mexican border (which I’m against) ever mention the growing calls in Mexico to build a wall on the country’s southern border to keep out illegal immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala? (The UN estimates 400,000 Central Americans cross illegally into Mexico each year. Mexico deported 175,000 in 2015 – a 68 per cent increase from 2014.)

Donald Trump’s start as president has not been good. But he may yet find creative ways to stop the refugee flow in the first place. He is reportedly in talks with the Saudis about setting up safe zones for Syrians inside Saudi Arabia (if not inside Syria itself), and limiting Iran’s “destabilizing regional activities” in the region. If this works, it could, in the longer term, be more significant in helping Syrians than anything that was done under Obama.

In the meantime, it would certainly help the cause of anti-Trump protesters if they placed their arguments in context, or at least occasionally demonstrated against radical Islam too. After all, when I speak to my many friends in Arab countries (including Yemen) they are much more concerned about the dual threat of the (Shia) Islamic regime in Iran and the (Sunni) Islamic regime in ISIS, than about Trump’s executive orders back home.

 

“IN SPAIN HE IS KNOWN AS EL COCO, A GHOST WITH A PUMPKIN HEAD”

Trump protesters are wasting their breath
The hysterical response to the president is more about feeling smug than changing anything
By Clare Foges
The Times (of London)
January 30, 2017

The bogeyman takes many forms. In Spain he is known as El Coco, a ghost with a pumpkin head. In Brazil he is a humanoid alligator. In Belize the stuff of children’s nightmares is a goblin with backwards feet and no thumbs. In Hungary he is a giant owl with a copper penis. In the UK he wears red ties, sports a hairstyle of heroic individuality and was recently sworn in as President of the United States.

The hysteria surrounding Donald Trump is remarkable. Each presidential tweet or comment is followed by a dramatic inhalation of smelling salts. People mutter of a new dark age, a crew of Voldemorts running the free world, of all that is true and good being under threat. On election night people talked of hugging their children a little closer, on inauguration day they thanked heaven that their dearly departed loved ones weren’t around to witness such an abominable event.

Trump has become the ultimate bogeyman: a representation of all the world’s ills. He is Big Money, Racism, Misogyny, Greed, Corruption, Venality of all kinds. He is mentioned in the same breath as Hitler and Mussolini. Teetering into self parody, The Guardiandescribed Trump’s first week as “seven days of carnage”. Sales of Orwell’s 1984 have soared since the inauguration, readers no doubt convinced that we are heading for dystopia and looking for a handy guide book.

Millions are in the grip of Traumatic Trump Syndrome and boy, is it starting to wear. Of course, we are entitled to feel concerned by some of his policies, not least the three-month suspension of arrivals from seven Muslim-majority countries. A policy which would see Sir Mo Farah detained on arrival is clearly nuts and unworthy of the United States. But to compare Mrs May to Neville Chamberlain for her delay in condemning this is nonsense. Trump is not a fascist dictator. He is a democratically elected president who represents the wishes of over 60 million Americans, whether we like it or not. Strangely, there was not the same outcry when Obama banned refugees from Iraq for six months in 2011.

What, ultimately, does the demonisation of Trump accomplish? It achieves, primarily, a glow of righteousness for Trump-haters. Take the mayor of Berlin, who cried last week: “Dear Mr President, don’t build this wall! We Berliners know best how much suffering was caused by the division of an entire continent with barbed wire and concrete.” Eh? Trump’s wall may be a foolish waste of money when there are drones to carry drugs over the border and tunnels to be dug underneath, but in what sense is a barrier across an existing national border comparable with the Berlin Wall? The mayor no doubt got a few pats on the back for his bravery in speaking out, though.

British politicians are falling over themselves to get on the bandwagon. The Tory MP Sarah Wollaston said Trump was “a sickening piece of work” who should not be invited to address parliament on his forthcoming state visit. Ed Miliband was at it too, criticising May for meeting Trump and so aligning herself with his “project”. The former Labour leader achieved a small resurgence in relevance, but what else?

So much of the criticism is branded as a “fight back”, with promises not to take the presidency lying down. But what do the anguished luvvies, the angry tweeters, the animated talking heads achieve through their obsessive vilification — beyond the trumpeting of their own moral credentials? There is a kind of laziness in all this. Because it is so easy to rail against Trump, to harrumph about his latest outrageous comment — yet it is so, so pointless. Marching in London, tweeting in Manchester, stamping your feet in Stevenage; it won’t make the slightest difference to the executive orders Trump signs or the policies he pursues. You might as well fight the tides as fight an elected president of another country let alone this one, who sees criticism as a reason to double-down not back down.

The biggest problem of bogeyman politics is not the irritation of seeing the virtue-signalling classes at work. It is that Traumatic Trump Syndrome represents an enormous, wasteful displacement of energy. Those railing against Trump can start to see this, in itself, as their contribution to society, their way of changing the world. The bogeyman is a kind of comfort because he becomes the embodiment of all ills, a black-and-white target to aim at and thus save the planet. All the time spent spluttering about the latest Trump tweet displaces the time people might have spent doing worthwhile things: making a real difference instead of fighting shadows. We are promised more rallies against him, with the Women’s March movement saying we should “watch this space” for action when Trump visits the UK. They should save their placard paint. They will be as effective as flies bashing fruitlessly against the bomb-proofed windows of the White House.

For those engaging directly with the president, the best approach is that demonstrated by the prime minister last week: not slavish, but respectful of the office and open to collaboration. This is the way to deal with a thin-skinned but important egotist — as shown by May’s shrewd delivery of Trump’s “100 per cent” backing of Nato.

For the rest of us, the next four years cannot be spent at this pitch of hysteria, indulging in hyperbolic predictions about the end of civilisation. Focus on the fights we can win, on making the world better in a million small ways. Raging against the bogeyman is simply a waste of time.

 

“FROM LILY ALLEN DOWN”

Nine questions those protesting against Donald Trump’s immigration ban must answer
By Douglas Murray
The Spectator
January 31, 2017

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/01/nine-questions-protesting-donald-trumps-immigration-ban-must-answer/

I wonder whether there might be any long-term effects from shouting ‘racist’, ‘fascist’, ‘misogynist’ all the time? It is possible that it is hard to think while your fingers are in your ears and you are shouting names at everybody. I just put the thought out there.

Certainly the consequences of not thinking much seem to be all around us. Though the Trump administration has decided to put temporary travel restrictions on people from certain countries, the policy seems to have certain internal inconsistencies. For instance, as Gordon Brown said in 2008, 75 per cent of Britain’s security threats originate from Pakistan. As anybody involved in the American security apparatus in recent years could tell you, one of the biggest – and for a period the biggest – security threats to America has been from Pakistani nationals or people of Pakistani heritage with UK passports heading to America via the UK. So if the Trump administration wants to impose blanket bans on any particular group of people, UK citizens of Pakistani heritage would be a better place to start. Another example of the inconsistency is that the country which most of the 9/11 hijackers came from – Saudi Arabia – is not on the list of countries whose nationals now face a temporary hiatus in their ability to travel to the U.S.

So there appears to be a certain lack of thought on some of the details of this policy. But it is nothing compared to the lack of thought among the policy’s critics. Indeed the opposition to the ban – from Lily Allen down – is striking for the fact that it has clearly thought about none of the central questions which should have preoccupied us all in recent years. Thus the people who are portraying the ban as something which is illegal, fascist etc are – if I may say so – making a huge long-term mistake. If you decide that border restrictions are fascist then you are declaring the views of most people to be fascist, because most people believe in border security. If you believe that restricting people coming in to your country or any other country is bigoted then you are claiming that most of the world is filled with bigots. If you believe absolutely everybody from everywhere should be treated in exactly the same manner (i.e. that immigration controls should everywhere and always be origin-blind) then you are arguing against the security protocols of every border security agency on earth.

In my own view it would help immensely if the people who are lambasting the Trump administration had at least given some thought to the following questions and could go some way to giving answers to such questions as:

1 – Do you accept that America (like many other countries in the world today) has security problems? Do you recognise that despite the giggly charts on social media showing lawnmowers to be more of a threat to American life than terrorism, there are legitimate security concerns that reasonable Americans might hold?

2 – Do you recognise that Islamic terrorism is not a figment of a fevered imagination, but a real thing that exists and which causes a risk to human life in America and many other countries? This isn’t to say that other forms of terrorism don’t exist – they obviously do. But how might you address this one (assuming you can’t immediately solve global peace, poverty, unhappiness, lack of satisfactory sex, masculinity etc)?

3 – If you do recognise the above fact then would you concede that large scale immigration from Islamic countries into the US might bring a larger number of potential challenges than, say, large scale immigration from New Zealand or Iceland?

4 – Is everybody who wants to visit Disney World morally akin to Jews fleeing the Holocaust? If not then what are the differences, and is it always wise to conflate the two?

5 – Would you recognise that Iran is one of the world’s leading state-sponsors of terror, and that, for example, an Iranian-born American citizen in 2011 was caught planning to carry out a terror attack in Washington (against the Saudi Ambassador)? Would you recognise that aggravating though a temporary halt on all Iranian nationals visiting the US might be, and many good people though it will undoubtedly stop, there is a reason that some countries cause a greater security concern than others? Might citizens of a country whose leadership regularly chants ‘Death to America’ present a larger number of questions for border security than, say, citizens of Denmark whose government rarely says the same? What would your vetting policy be to distinguish between different Iranians seeking to enter the US?

6 – Does the whole world have the right to live in America? This is a variant of the same question we Europeans should have been asking for years. If you do not think that the whole world has the right to live in the USA then who should be allowed to live there and who should not? Who might be given priority?

7 – If you believe in giving some people asylum, as I do, who should be given priority? Should asylum be forever? Or should there be a time-limit (such as up until such a time as your country of origin is deemed safe)? How do you deal with people who have been given asylum, whose reason for asylum is over (i.e. their country has returned to peace) but whose children have entered the school system (for instance)?

8 – Is it wrong that the Trump administration says it wishes to favour Christian refugees over Muslim refugees? This is a fascinating and difficult moral question. Many Christians refuse to accept that the plight of Christians – even when they are the specific target of persecution – should be given priority over anyone else. This is a noble example of Christian universalism, but is it wise or moral when you consider the limited numbers that can come in and if you accept that the entire persecuted world cannot arrive in America?

9 – How do you identify the type of Muslims who America should indeed welcome? And how do you distinguish them from the sort of Muslims who the country could well do without? In other words, what would your vetting procedures be? There are some people who have thought about this. But what is your policy?

If you think all of the above questions are simply ‘racist’ or ‘bigoted’ then I suppose the rest of us will just have to accept that we’re going to lose you to four years of shouting on the streets in vagina hats. But the rest of us should try to address these questions. We’re not going to be able to shout them away you know.

 

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