Democracy in Exile and the Curse of Totalitarianism

Photo by Diego Torres Silvestre | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Diego Torres Silvestre | CC BY 2.0

With his white supremacist ideology and racist contempt for Muslims on full display, President Trump has issued an executive order banning all Syrians and people from seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the United States. In doing so, he has not only made visible, and without apology, his embrace of the frenzied lawlessness of authoritarianism, he has also put into place an additional series of repressive policies for the creation of what might be called a democracy in exile.

In response to the religious ban targeting Muslims and Syrian refugees escaping a devastating war, carnage, and state violence, thousands of people across the country have mobilized with great speed and energy to reject not just a possibly unconstitutional ban, but also what this and other regressive policies herald as a possible model for the future. Many writers have focused on the massive disruption this shoot-from-the hip piece of legislation has and will produce for students, visa holders, and those entering the United States after finishing a long vetting process.

As an editorial in the Washington Post pointed out, Trump’s immigration order is “breathtaking in scope and inflammatory in tone.”[1] Moreover, it lacks logic and speaks to “the president’s callousness and indifference to history, to America’s deepest lessons about its own values.”[2]  Given that it was issued on Holocaust Remembrance day points not only to…

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