Speaking the language of the “Muslim Ban”

Image depicting protestors

By Tina Snieder

On January 27, President Trump signed an executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” which enacted a 90-day halt on foreign nationals entering the United States from seven majority-Muslim countries.

As a result, on January 29, protesters in the thousands poured into the LAX airport to protest what had become popularized as the “Muslim ban.” One protester, alumni Karolina Beveridge, weighed in on the protest that began at “Tom Brady International” but eventually protesters “took over the entire bottom floor of arrivals, marching in the street,” said Beveridge. She further explained the protest was an “outlet for rage, and a way to make a powerful statement.”

Beveridge has a close friend who will not be able to travel to see her family in Canada or Iran, although the friend has a Green Card and currently resides in the U.S.

Seeing the pain her friend experienced upon hearing that news was Beveridge’s main motivation for attending. The protest peacefully continued for hours, with protesters shouting “No ban no wall,” and, “no hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here.”

The official language found on the President’s twitter, and in press releases from the White House, refers to the demand of the executive order as “extreme vetting,” though in a tweet on January 30 Trump himself called this order a “ban”. Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended this saying Trump was merely “using the words that the media is using,” turning the debate into a who-said-what-first game.

Image depicting protesters

Trump weighed in on the debate in a tweet on February one, writing, “Everybody is arguing whether or not it is a BAN. Call it what you want, it is about keeping bad people (with bad intentions) out of country!” Language is the medium in which we reach intention and thus the language used is important as it aids in the understanding of the intention.

The executive order clearly states that the purpose is to “protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States.” The language conveys protection through “extreme vetting,” but for many the intention is still unclear.

Trump frequently spoke of a “Muslim ban” during the campaign trail and many are wary now that this order is the outworking of Trump’s campaign promise. Specifics in the executive order can also be interpreted to with the intention of banning Muslims from entry into the United States.

In Section Five “c” of the executive order, the President makes allowances for the Secretary of State and Homeland Security to admit individuals into the United States as refugees for a few special circumstances, one of which is if “the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution.”

As Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, and Somalia are all countries with a majority-Muslim population, this special circumstance appears to work against Muslims seeking refuge.

While, for obvious reasons, this executive order does not affect all muslim countries and therefore cannot be blanketed as a “Muslim ban” it is a travel ban, at least momentarily, that targets Muslims.

However for Beveridge and thousands of others, the intention is clear: “Perhaps the language is not specific enough for some people, but I think fighting over what to call it is a distraction from the real issue. The fact is, people from these countries were banned. This is racism,” said Beveridge.