As Capt. O’Hagan once so eloquently put it, “I’ll believe that when me shit turns purple and smells like rainbow sherbet.”
Your honor, may I present into evidence Exhibit No. 1 for the prosecution: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shut down of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” Donald J. Trump, Dec. 7, 2015. Yes, sadly, our president talks about himself in the third person. The tale of the tape.
Wrap the executive order in all the legalese you want, we aren’t fk’ing stupid. We know exactly what he’s doing because it’s exactly what he said he wanted to do.
Your honor, Exhibit No. 2 for the prosecution, from the testimony of Mr. Rudolph Giuliani: “I’ll tell you the whole history of it: When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban,'” Giuliani said on Fox News. “He called me up, he said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’”
As many noted at the time Trump announced his idea for a “shut down of Muslims entering the United States,” a religious test, by law, is unconstitutional. It is a direct assault on the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
On Jan. 20, President Trump placed his hand on a bible and swore to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
So what does it mean when he asks to “show me the right way to do it legally”? He was asking for a way around the U.S. Constitution. He was asking a way to enact his religious test in a manner that would “legally” subvert the First Amendment.
Nevermind the fact that this action will achieve the exact opposite of its ostensibly intended effect. As Charlie Winter notes in The Atlantic:
In a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday, Trump contended that “this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”
If only this were the case. Not only does the policy miss the point, it betrays a worryingly superficial understanding of the threat from Islamist terrorism. The ban also has the power to make things much worse—it will go far to symbolically aid and abet the very terrorists that the president says he wants to keep out, popularizing and reinforcing their binary worldview. Unwittingly, the new administration is building the world that salafi-jihadists so dearly want to inhabit, one where “crusader governments and citizens” are seen to be persecuting Sunni Muslims en masse and in which the conspiracy about there being a U.S.-orchestrated “war on Islam” actually rings true.
Nevermind that the administration did not consult Congress or the Justice Department, and made a rash, ill-planned, far-reaching decision throwing international relations into chaos just after purging an already understaffed state department.
Nevermind that the comparisons to the actions of previous administrations are laughably, demonstrably false, and that this is truly an unprecedented, extraordinarily reckless step.
The point to focus on is this: The President of the United States deliberately set out to undermine the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution, in spirit if not in fact.
He has broken his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. At best, the administration has shown a cavalier disregard for our nation’s bedrock foundational document. At worst, they are launching an outright assault on it. It’s only a matter of time when “in spirit” does become “in fact,” and at that point, until 2018 at least, we will have to rely on Republicans in U.S. Congress to do what is necessary to protect the Republic. Do you feel comfortable counting on them? I don’t.
D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.