By Christine Todd Whitman
January 31, 2017
We all want to keep America safe and, fortunately, our security forces have been doing a pretty good job of that. Most of the attacks to which we have been subjected have come from home grown radicals or people with an history of mental or emotional issues. Our security forces need to continue to improve how they share information and develop more refined indicators of those who appear to be open to radicalization.
That said, President Trump’s recent ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries is not only un-American, it doesn’t make us any safer. In fact, it could be argued that it will have the opposite effect. By underscoring ISIL and Al Quida’s messages that this country hates all Muslims it makes their recruiting that mush easier, especially here at home. Perhaps it is appropriate to add additional biometric measures to those we already have in place, but the manner in which this executive order was implemented was abysmal. To trap people mid-journey is just plain cruel. Radicals who have killed Americans on U.S. soil in the last 40 years were from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE, yet those countries are not covered in the president’s executive order. How does that make us safer?
Consider also the effect of this ban on our first line of defense: our European allies. Because of proximity, they face the most immediate threats and are constantly refining their intelligence and closely share their findings with us. They are already questioning how much intelligence to give us given the president’s seemingly close relationship with Russia. Now, to continue to be seen as a close ally of the US could put them even more in the cross-hairs of the terrorists. If those allies pull back at all, we are in serious trouble. More situations like happened in Nice, Brussels and at Charlie Hebdo could be the result.
Finally, do we really think we were made any safer in WWII when we interred Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor? As Americans we have always been, to quote Ronald Reagan, “that shinning city on a hill”. Now, more than ever, the world needs to know that we will continue to be that place of refuge that is a beacon for those who seek fairness, freedom and justice. Let us continue to show that those fundamental tenets of democracy, and the ability of people to freely chose their leaders, is an example worth following.