Dangers of simplified stigmas

Emma Derr

Looking through the news this week, it would be incredibly difficult to ignore the intense media coverage of President Trump’s immigration order.

The executive order placed a 120-day suspension on the Syrian Refugee program and a 90-day travel ban into the United States from seven largely Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Sudan and Somalia.

There has been confusion surrounding how the ban has affected people with visas and green cards.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that 109 people were temporarily detained. This figure is not including the 940 visa holders from the seven countries previously named that were affected by the order.

This is the largest use of presidential power ever employed under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.

Yet, the problem does not seem to lie in the intense use of power, but the way it was exercised.

It is difficult to ignore that terrorist acts in the United States do have an arguable religious component. But the question I continue to wrestle with is whether this is a large enough platform to create such a potent stigma?

The ban clearly sends the message, intended or not, that Muslims are terrorists. We seem to forget that radical Islam is much different than Islam.

That being said, I do not believe that the ban is terrible or completely unwarranted, and I do not contest that our national security comes first.

But I do question how there are refugees who need assistance, refugees that we as a nation made a commitment to, that we have now neglected on the basis of religion.

In high school, a friend of mine, Jena Awad, organized efforts in coordination with the Narenj Tree Foundation to help Syrian refugees. Awad practices Islam and travels to Jordan every year to help those in need.

This year, her family was providing aid directly to Syrian families.

“On Thursday, there was a Syrian family (parents and a child) that were scheduled to move here, and my dad was providing them with an apartment. The parents had jobs waiting for them. Now, they are not able to come,” Awad said.

“Everything they ever knew was destroyed or abandoned and now, they have also lost their dignity. In efforts to make a new life for themselves, they are labeled as a threat.”

The stigma has already been created, and it is apparent. It is probably irreversible.

So the question now is, how do we prevent further executive actions that will create different stigmas about other populations?

We protest. We talk about the issues. We educate ourselves. We do what we can because, in a nation ruled by confusion, tension and strife, that is the only hope we have.