As of today, January 31, 2017, Donald Trump has signed several executive orders that will arguably change the course of history, both in America and the world. One thing can be said about President Trump: he makes good on his promises. However, there has been serious debate and protest surrounding his recent orders from both sides of the party line. As with any new president, and always with politics, there is a lot of back and forth on what’s right, what’s wrong, who likes it and who doesn’t. What’s interesting is the sheer amount of emotion that plays into the reactions to these orders; emotion in a sphere where logic plays best.
These recent executive orders are contentious to say the least, but just like with anything and everything else, there are sides to them. Not so much in the groups of people who are for or against them, but there are chains of reactions that could be set in motion by these implemenations. In a time when one side is horrified by what President Trump has done and the other is on a power high from it, it’s important to look at these different reactions that could take place. The orders have been signed, and there is really no going back on that even though there have been attempts, but both sides have to be prepared for what might, or will, come next, whether it is good or bad.
Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)
In January 2016, the Dakota Access Pipeline was permitted to run through 4 states. Normally, this type of construction would be met with praise because of its ability to provide jobs and money to the U.S. economy. However, this pipeline was met with extreme criticism because of its environmental and social risks. The pipeline was to be constructed directly through the Sioux Nation Reservation in North and South Dakota, and part was to run directly under Lake Oahe.
Protests began very quickly on this issue: Lake Oahe is the main water source for the area, and the presence of an oil pipeline could potentially contaminate the entire supply (that means people don’t have clean water). The Sioux Nation, environmental activists, and thousands of others joined the protest at Standing Rock Reservation, and on social media, to implore the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to pull the permits, and halt construction. After months of protests, construction, indeed, stopped in order for the pipeline to be rerouted.
President Trump’s executive order opened construction back up, and no talk has been made over whether it has been rerouted away from the lake. Even if this concession has been made, sacred land and burial grounds have already been demolished. The issues with this are mainly focused on the people that it will impact negatively. The Native Americans in this area have historically been railroaded by the U.S. government, and this is really no different. It is by treaty that reservations even exist on land that was originally Native American. Part of that treaty states that any construction by the government must be agreed upon by the Sioux Nation. In this case, this has not happened, technically violating treaty, yet this has been overlooked. Additionally, the sheer act of contaminating a population’s water supply is a serious offense that should be taken into consideration.
What Could Happen
Some might argue that the stimulus to the economy in jobs and money would be an outweighing benefit from this, and this would be a great thing. But what happens when this pipeline is completed, those jobs go away, and the money doesn’t go into the economy. It goes to oil companies. This obviously would lead to greater income inequality in the American economy, the rich would get richer, while the rest of the population stays where they are, or drop economically.
Without doubt, this could lead to social backlash, and has already done so, in a time when most people just wish social turmoil would just calm down. When an entire ethnic and cultural population feels slighted and attacked, both culturally and physically, relations among American people worsen. Yet, it’s not government officials that have to experience and deal with social relations among its citizens, it’s the citizens themselves.
The environmental impact of the DAPL is probably the biggest issue, just as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was a major environmental mess-up, if this were to happen in a river it would be exponentially worse. Add on top of that the fact that it’s not only a vastly smaller body of water, but people also rely on it to live, makes it highly unethical, and immoral (and we’re all Christians here right?). And if anyone has seen Deepwater Horizon, you know that when oil companies injure the environment, they don’t worry too much about cleaning it up.
One of the most contentious executive orders is probably what has now been commonly dubbed the “Muslim Ban“: the order to stop travel and immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.
These countries include: Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. This order was almost immediately met with protests, even here in Memphis. Unless you live under a rock, you know that not only has this caused uproar in the streets, but social media has become a battlezone because of it. There are aspects of a legitimate argument from both camps, but here is definitely where emotion has played the most role.
One side is happy, even high off the fact that this has happened, their main point being that it makes the U.S. safer, and this is a valid argument. In the past few years, it seems that their has been an increase in mass terror crimes committed by people who are practicing Muslims. So by default, not allowing Muslim immigrants into the U.S. would “cut the snake off at the head” so to speak. And to an extent this is absolutely true, we have to protect our citizens and our country and that should always be a priority. Now, the other side claims that this order is horrifying in that it racially and religiously targets all people from these countries and keeps out people who need help from the U.S. (the refugee debate has been going on for quite a while now).
THEY’RE BOTH RIGHT!
By not allowing anybody from a group in which several people have committed deadly crimes at least diminshes some of the risk that it will continue to happen, and keeps Americans safer. HOWEVER, it’s impossible to know if someone is Muslim just by looking at them unless they are wearing a hijab. Yet, I’ve heard stories from my Muslim friends of people calling them un-American, and identifying them as Muslim simply based on the color of their skin (imagine that in America). Because of the terror attacks committed by radical Muslims, this does not have a great connotation among many Americans. This can lead to verbal, emotional, or even physical attacks.
This behavior is bred out of ignorance and intolerance, if Americans can differentiate between the terror tactics of the KKK and other non-radical Christians, then surely they can have the presence of mind to differientiate between radical Islam and non-radical. Also, Americans that are for the “Muslim ban” cite that in 2011, President Obama signed a similar order to stop travel from some Muslim countries. This is true and anti-Muslim ban Americans cannot get around that fact, they did not protest then. There is a difference though: Aleppo was not a wasteland, and a mini Holocaust was not being committed. Pro-Muslim ban Americans also don’t understand that in these countries, there aren’t just Muslims that are being massacred: Syria has a 10% Christian population.
What Could Happen
When you fight fire with fire, you both get burned. While the safety of our country is of utmost importance, just because you take away someone’s key, doesn’t mean they won’t still come in. Just because we stop immigration from these countries, doesn’t mean that terrorists won’t still find a way into our country, if they really want to. Not to mention that many terrorist attacks that have been committed in the past few years, have predominantly been by people already in the U.S. By banning people, we are only saving ourselves from a small amount of risk. And based on the events during WWII concerning Japanese Americans, imprisoning Americans because of your fear doesn’t really work well. This ban was also made under the assumption that terrorists only come from the Muslim religion. Frank Silva Roque, Scott Roeder, and Jim David Adkisson all had one thing in common…they were radical Christian terrorists. There are other ways to make our country safer. This, could potentially bring in more terrorists.
This, again, causes uproar in our society, both locally and globally, which solves no problem in any way, on any topic. The biggest issue with this order was how it was carried out. The order specifically states that those with valid visas from these countries were exempt from the order, yet these people were being stopped at airports and sent back to these countries. Communication is key, and a lot of uproar and flac that President Trump needlessly caught, was because it was not communicated well.
A mounting number of refugees will be murdered (450,000+). For those that don’t know: that’s bad.
From very early on in President Trump’s campaign, he promised a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border. With his wave of executive orders, he set it in motion. This wall will cost $14 billion, but the Mexican government is going to pay for it (right?). The main arguments by President Trump and his supporters for the wall is, once again, the safety and economy of the U.S. These are legitimate concerns, our immigration process is ridiculously hard, and immigrants usually see it as easier to simply come to the U.S. illegally. However, when they come, they do more good for the economy than bad. Security wise, just like not all Christians are in the KKK, not all Hispanic immigrants are criminals (but we love our stereotypes don’t we?) There are several other options that would probably be cheaper, and more productive for our society and economy than this. For example, all those homeless American veterans we use to justify not helping other people, well they’re already trained to defend and protect, why not station them at the border? No? Because it’s not really about all that.
What Could Happen
With the Muslim ban, the most worrisome reaction is a societal one. With the wall, the most worrisome reaction is absolutely economical. President Trump says Mexico will pay for it, or reimburse the government for it. Mexican president, Enrique Pena Nieto, has adamently stated Mexico will not pay for the wall. Well, someone is lying to us. The President and his administration have stated the best way to accomplish this is inact a 20% tax on all Mexican imports. Great idea. Then the price of avocados, strawberries, tomatoes and other American imports from Mexico will increase in price by (you guessed it!) 20%. God forbid we get in a pricing war with a whole other country and end up with a tanked economy. Nah, we would lose those imports before that happened…I hope.
The world is in literal turmoil. War, hatred, poverty, and sickness are ever present, and they aren’t going away. Believe it or not, we as Americans cannot run from it, we can’t hide from it: we are in a global economy. Isolation is not a real option, and it’s not being considered (we’re still doing business with Saudi Arabia…you know, a Muslim majority country). But isolating trade partners, isolating and alienating whole groups of people is not logical to the good of our country. Safety of the American people should always be the number one priority of our government, but instead of playing on fear, and emotion, the best course of action is to respond and act with logic. We have to rememeber this, and we have to remember that being on one side, means no one wins.
Think about it.
Mary Clark is an editor at the Galleon and a senior at Christian Brothers University.