When our friends at Sprudge went looking for coffee companies to donate proceeds to the ACLU in opposition to the President’s ban on immigrants from seven Muslim countries, we were intrigued. But of course there’s more to it. Of all the worthwhile causes and needy organizations and people, should this in particular be a big focus of our fundraising efforts for 2017? Do we want to insert ourselves into what will likely be viewed as a divisive political debate?
Ultimately, my answer is yes. We support this movement. We support these people. We oppose a ban on a particular group of people on the basis of their religion and country of origin. We believe this action weakens our moral standing in the world and goes against the very essence of what America stands for.
In brief, those denied their travel visas have been both refugees and green card holders from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan. Iran is somewhat unique, but every other country has seen significant suffering from internal conflict. We have all seen the footage from Aleppo in Syria. As horrible as that is, it’s not so different from the aerial bombardment Yemenis have suffered at the hands of Saudi-led forces. Libya is in chaos. The US role in Iraqi instability needs little introduction. I would stereotype Iranians as intellectual and urbane lovers of liberty who happen to have authoritarian leaders. Sounds like me.
The point of all of this is that these are victims and not perpetrators. These people are suffering and dying under horrific circumstances. Most have undertaken more than two years of already extreme vetting at considerable expense and against great odds to gain their travel visa. Many need medical care. Many more risked everything to align themselves with US forces in Iraq as translators and guides.
We are not wholly unaffiliated with these myriad conflicts and I have yet to hear a credible foreign service professional say that we are safer because of the immigration ban. Witness the 1000 signatures on the State Department’s dissent cable on Trump’s ban. You’ll find no US attacks from these seven countries in this century. This ban on Muslim immigrants makes us less secure, a boon for recruiting those who wish to do the United States and our allies harm. It’s about petty populist xenophobic politics and it’s about cruelty and it’s a stain on our flag and a source of internment-camp-era shame.
So, yes, we support the ACLU using our nation’s courts to fight this misguided Executive Order. I will also try to keep an open mind to those with contrasting views and believe that civil engagement with you, who dissent from my dissent, is a critical exercise in keeping our communities from deeper fracture.
Just FYI: We also intend to donate similar resources to the needy in our own community and find an additional avenue for supporting coffee growers in need beyond paying high prices for delicious well-produced coffee beans.
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