This is the text of a Letter to the Editor that I’ve submitted to the Daily Progress:
Donald Trump’s recent executive order banning entry into the United States of “immigrants and nonimmigrants” from seven majority-Muslim countries is nothing more than he had promised he would do, and nothing less than an affront to the values our country was founded on.
He and his supporters have argued that we need such a ban to protect our country from the threat of potential terrorists arriving on our shores, pointing to the hijackers who perpetrated the September 11th attacks as an example. It is interesting, then, that Saudi Arabia is not included in the ban, even though the majority of those hijackers came from there. In fact, a study by the policy research institute, New America, reports that:
“[T]he large majority of jihadist terrorists in the United States have been American citizens or legal residents. Moreover, while a range of citizenship statuses are represented, every jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident.”
I serve a congregation named after Thomas Jefferson. In 1765 Mr. Jefferson purchased a copy of the Qur’an, and it led to a life-long interest in Islam. History tells us that as our founders discussed and debated just how far the ideal of religious freedom should go, Islam was explicitly lifted up as a “test case.” In Denise Spellberg’s 2014 book Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders, she argues that the consideration of Islam was “decisive in the Founders’ ultimate judgment not to establish a Protestant nation, as they might well have done.” Islam has been a part of the story of the United States since before the Declaration of Independence.
In the full text of Mr. Trump’s executive order he wrote:
“The United States must be vigilant … [to] ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution.”
This begs the question: what are we to do when such a person is already here, and residing in the White House?
Rev. Erik Walker Wikstrom