Trump and the Rounding Up of Arabs and Muslims in America after 9/11

I’ve been blogging about Trump’s Fascist demands to prevent Muslims entering the US on the grounds that they represent a terrorist threat, simply through the actions of what is a tiny number of extremists. He also wants Muslims already in America to be registered. Along with his comments about building a wall to keep out Mexicans, his organisation’s suspicion of Black workers, and the violence he has encouraged at his rallies against protestors and journalists, it is fair to call Trump what he is: a Fascist. Jewish Americans have been particularly alarmed at his violent xenophobia, and a little while ago there were demonstrations organised by Jews in 17 American cities.

Trumps demands for the exclusion and state surveillance of Muslims can be traced back to Dubya’s attack on civil liberties in the name of preventing terrorist after 9/11. John Kampfner in his his book Freedom for Sale: How We Made Money and Lost Our Liberty describes how the American state began rounding up suspicious persons. 80,000 people were rounded up in police dragnets across America. Most of them were Middle Eastern, mostly illegally immigrants working in corner shops, petrol stations and for trucking companies. The authorities also received over 100,000 phone calls and emails tipping them off to the presence of suspect characters. In the event, none of those arrested were charged with terrorism.

Kampfner states that in these cases

The notions of guilt and innocence were discarded. The overriding priority was to prevent, at all costs, the suspect from getting away. If the wrong people were locked up as a consequence, so be it. The notion of pre-emptive justice had been created without going through any democratic or political checks and balances. (p. 235).

He also describes how he met a radio producer, and the problems she had had getting a documentary she was making on the difficulties Arabs and Palestinians were experiencing in America broadcast. She had found several cases where Arabs had been arrested and held by the authorities without charge, and their families not informed where they were. Her editors at the station were sceptical and incredulous, as they didn’t believe this could happen in America. When she showed that it could and was, she was asked to tone it down. The programme was eventually broadcast, but only locally and non nationally. (p. 235-6).

Kampfner also describes discussing the situation with Eric Foner, a writer on the issue of freedom and the long history of the political persecution of minority groups in America. Foner mentioned the parallels between the mass internment of Arabs and that of Japanese-Americans in the Second World War. Foner pointed out that the majority of Americans were still in favour of such clampdowns on personal liberty in emergencies. He describes going to the International Spy Museum in Washington. On the interactive computers placed around the museum was a quiz, which included the question whether the American government had the right to detail indefinitely the enemies of America. Of the 30,000 or so people, who had taken the quiz, 60% were in favour. (p. 241). It’s an anecdote intended to show that in America, attacks on personal freedoms can be popular with a sizable section of the American public.

Trump’s Fascism is therefore tapping into a vein of paranoid xenophobia that has been present in America since or before the War, and which has only increased with the War on Terror. He’s building on the assaults on liberty led by George Dubya. And if he gets in, you can expect these policies to lead to more disappearances of innocent people, held without charge, simply on the grounds of their ethnicity or religion. It’s the ‘Nacht und Nebel’ of the Nazis, shifted from 20th century Germany, to America in the 21st.

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One Response to “Trump and the Rounding Up of Arabs and Muslims in America after 9/11”

  1. 61chrissterry Says:

    Reblogged this on 61chrissterry.

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