There is a popular quote that says “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing” was uppermost in my mind these last few weeks.
Donald Trump declared in his first week of office that refugees and nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen were banned from entering the United States. The result was line-ups, detentions and deportations at the US airports of men, women, including children whose luck in the birth lottery was to be born in what seems to be the wrong parts of the globe. Wrong, that is, according to Trump and his advisers.
The immediate result of the Trump ban was the angry reaction of ordinary people who galvanized themselves and their communities into action. They rushed to the airports with their signs and placards. They marched on the streets to register their condemnation and their opposition to Trump’s ban. Lawyers and civil libertarians provided legal support right at the airports. Courageous judges ruled that the Trump ban was unconstitutional, undemocratic, un-American, and downright immoral.
People around the world also took the US situation as their own and added their voices and numbers in a global manifesto of people looking out for each other, never mind that these were people they did not know personally. In Vancouver, different groups picketed the US Embassy, organized rallies, vigils and marches outside of the mosques. In Indonesia and the Philippines, citizens marched and gathered outside of the US Embassies in their nation’s capitals to protest Trump’s anti-immigration policies. The “We are all Muslims” placard held by a protester sums up why people are out on the streets in defiance of Trump’s ban.
However, we need to know and remember that evil things — like Islamophobia, fear mongering, racism, im/migrant bashing, and sexism – are not exclusive to the United States. These evil things also happen in Canada. Islamophobia is alive and here in our midst. It has been here for a long time. And it takes a president like Trump and his group of far-Right and very Conservative advisers to fan even more the flames of hatred around and outside the United States.
Islamophobia manifested itself in the recent shooting at the Quebec mosque that killed six worshippers, injured several others and sowed fear in the Muslim community. Islamophobia was here long before Trump came into power. Who can forget the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States? The so-called war on terror also terrorized targeted communities and groups because of their religion, their nationalities, their being “different from us.”
Let us remember that the attacks against Muslims, against Black people, migrants and immigrants, against Indigenous peoples, and indigenous women are also attacks against us. We have the duty to defend and uphold human rights, to stand up against exploitation and oppression. Our communities may be safe now, but unless the Trump ban and other anti-people orders are resisted, who knows which communities are next? We have Filipino Muslims as part of our Pinoy community and so this ban has a direct impact on all of us.
It is no small comfort to see ordinary men and women doing what they can to make sure that evil does not triumph. That Trump does not triumph.
“No walls, no ban!”
By E. Maestro