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Monday, April 22, 2024

Parsing Trump

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“Trump: no visas for 7 Muslim countries!” cried out the story headline in this paper last Sunday.

As it turned out, the reality was less alarming. Visitors from those countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) will not be able to travel to the US for 90 days while the US government sets up tougher new procedures for “extreme vetting” of those countries’ nationals.

Less well-treated was America’s entire refugee resettlement program, which was suspended for 120 days while the vetting procedures are likewise toughened up. And worst off were refugees specifically from Syria, who are banned indefinitely until no less than the president changes his mind.

As of November 2015, according to the previous Obama administration, Syrian refugees numbered less than 2,000, of whom only 2 percent were single males of “combat age.” Of course that still works out to about 40 men, more than enough in the worst case to put together a good-sized cell of “sleepers.”

Critics have pointed out that none of the seven affected countries were involved in 9/11. They conveniently forget all those past incidents that earned them America’s ire: the American hostages taken from the Tehran embassy nearly 40 years ago, the killing of the US ambassador in Benghazi, the parading of dead American Blackhawk pilots through the streets of Mogadishu, the various bombings of American facilities in Sudan and Yemen.

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Movies have been made of these incidents, ensuring them a place in American demonology.

Trump, however, made an exception for minorities, e.g. Christians, who may be fleeing from the Muslim majorities in those countries. This was predictably criticized by Arab-American community leaders as religious discrimination.

Unfortunately for them, the world still has to hear of Christians in the Middle East—or pretty much anywhere else for that matter—beheading their opponents and screaming for destruction of the Great Satan. It’s hard to demonize someone who isn’t acting like one.

For a long time now, responsible Muslim leaders have been urged to do a lot more to clean up their ranks and speak up more forcefully for Western values. Judging from the recent misbehavior of many of their refugees in the European nations who took them in, not enough has been said or done.

Now they’re having to learn, as a result, that if you won’t stop dancing with the devil, you’ll have to pay the piper. As a two-fisted businessman who’s fast learning the ropes in politics, Trump won’t waste this opportunity to ride on American hostility in order to introduce homeland security reforms that, upon the closest evaluation, may well turn out to be needed.

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On the brighter side of the ledger, Trump also revived the “Mexico City initiative,” a longstanding executive order—abandoned under Obama—to withhold federal funds from organizations that promote abortion abroad.

Around the same time, the US House of Representatives also voted to outright defund Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest provider of abortion services. The measure is likely to pass the Senate, also controlled by the Republicans, and obtain a presidential signature soon.

Legislation has also been introduced that would, for example, prohibit abortion as soon as the doctor detects a fetal heartbeat. And with the impending appointment of a new Supreme Court justice from the conservative camp, the country edges closer to the long-sought repeal of the Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion on demand.

This year’s annual March for Life by the pro-life crowd in Washington, D.C. was addressed for the first time ever by an American vice president, the newly elected Mike Pence, with Trump as well tweeting his support from inside the White House.

Whether Trump did this as a repayment of campaign debt to his supporters, or out of genuine conversion, what will count is the consistency of the support he will give to the pro-life constituency.

All of this may seem foreign to Filipinos. After all, abortion is proscribed by no less than our Constitution, which (thanks to the devout Tita Cory) adopted the Church definition of life as beginning “from conception until natural death.” In a country that is uniquely attached to the Santo Nino, our sheer love of children could never brook such a legalized crime.

The situation has always been different in the US and the rest of the West. And yet, most recently, the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute reported a drop in the US abortion rate, from nearly 2 million a year several years ago, to less than a million today. For the tide to be truly turning is certainly something to wish for.

* * *

It seems that the US is relearning how to value the truly innocent—the unborn—even as it is re-learning common sense in dealing with refugees who are only presumptively innocent. Catholics who are politically as well as socially conservative can only applaud.

Save for one voice who is conspicuously missing: the shepherd no less of all those Catholics.

In his pronouncements to date, the Holy Father has maintained absolute silence on the impending rollback of abortion in the US—a sin for which one could get excommunicated under Church dogma. Instead, he has chosen to pontificate against Trump’s hardline on refugees and immigrants, going so far as to indirectly describe the new president as “Hitler-like.”

With all due respect to His Holiness, we pray that he will sort out the proper priorities for the Church he leads, listening to Sacred Scripture and Tradition as well as the contentious voices of his flock.

Readers can write me at

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