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The “response” by South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley, to the Obama State of the Union address, was a prime example of what I would call the “Demopublican” Establishment at work to attack and discredit the candidate they fear the most in this year’s electoral cycle: Donald Trump.
Of course, the presidential address before Congress and Haley’s response included many more items than that. But the fact that both Obama and the South Carolina governor aimed nearly identical pointed criticism at the Donald is very significant. Indeed, on the NBC Today program the morning after the State of Union, Haley specifically mentioned him by name as the object of her ire, and of the hatred of the Republican Establishment.
Both Obama and Haley harshly criticized Trump’s call for a ban on Muslim immigration into the United States until, as he stated it, “we can find out what is going on.” When he first made that proposal back in earlier December, there were a flurry of articles, commentaries, and various condemnations from most of the other GOP candidates and elites. But, as happens in news cycles, over Christmas the issue seemed to disappear from the front pages of newspapers and the comments by TV pundits….until, that is, the State of the Union and this latest assault by the Demopublican Establishment.
It is widely known that the party elites in South Carolina, led by Haley, are attempting to erect a Southern firewall against Trump, should he come out of New Hampshire with a strong head of steam. Indeed, Senator Lindsey Graham, the senior senator from that state, is a zealous and virulent Trump critic. “Donald Trump is a race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot,” Senator Lindsey Graham has said emphatically, joining those American leaders, left and right, in condemning him.
Haley’s unified front with Obama on the issue of Muslim immigration is one more sign that the Demopublican Establishment is willing to fight Trump to the bitter end. Interestingly, all the polls taken in South Carolina of GOP voters indicate that the Donald enjoys a huge lead over all his opposition in the Sandlapper State. So much for representing the grass roots!
Since both Obama and Haley have brought the immigration issue to the forefront again, it’s a good idea to examine the question once more in depth.
After Trump first made his proposal on December 7, the Mainstream Media launched a massive assault, terming what he proposed, variously, “un-American,” “unchristian,” or “unconstitutional.” Yet, as the succeeding debate raged, Trump and various authors were able to produce numerous examples of previous American presidents having done the same thing he advocates, including Jimmy Carter when he refused entry to Iranian nationals and required Iranian students to report to immigration offices, and then expelling some of them. Notably, there is also the example of legislative action taken by Congress–the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952–during the administration of President Harry Truman, incorporated into the federal statutes (U.S.C. Title 8, Section 1182), which gives the president the right to bar whole classes of potential entrants for a length of time that he may deem necessary:
“Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.” [emphasis added]
We can also add that during World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt, banned nationals from Japan, Germany, and Italy from entering the country. Indeed, for over forty years, until 1965, immigration into the United States was based on percentages of origin of population already here.The Immigration Act of 1924(The Johnson-Reed Act) limited the number of immigrants allowed entry into the United States through a national origins quota. The quota provided immigration visas to two percent of the total number of people of each nationality in the United States as of the 1890 national census. It completely excluded immigrants from Asia.
Certainly, these actions were and continue to be highly debated; but they were certainly constitutional and within the legal framework of American law.
Haley, Obama, and the Demopublicans scream that Trump’s proposal would violate our heritage of welcoming immigrants and the historic constitutional provisions on religious freedom that the Founders wisely implemented. But, here again, Trump is on much stronger ground than they are. What do the courts say? Let’s turn directly to a decision by the US Supreme Court, that in a ruling from 1972, Kleindienst v. Mandel, “strongly suggests the Trump proposal would pass muster,” to quote The Wall Street Journal. While President Obama and the Obama-lite Demopublicans argue that the freedom of religion clause of the First Amendment would be violated by barring Muslims from entering the U.S., “the government’s authority to set immigration policy, at least as applied to nonresident aliens, outweighs any free-speech claim an alien may wish to assert.”
Various religious leaders, including some supposed “conservatives,” have joined in attacking Trump’s position as “unchristian.” Southern Baptist Russell Moore –-who in actuality is a George Soros stalking horse—was quick to condemn Trump when he first came out with his proposed moratorium on Muslim immigration. “Anyone who cares an iota about religious liberty should denounce this reckless, demagogic rhetoric” [American Muslims accuse Donald Trump of leading ‘lynch mob’, by Daniel Burke, CNN, December 7, 2015], he declared.
But is such criticism well-grounded in American history and the Founders’ ideas on religious liberty?
The thought that swarms of Muslims would reach American shores was never a consideration on the part of the Founders. Indeed, the first war that the young United States fought (1801-1805) was with the Islamic Barbary Pirates, who had been enslaving and ransoming American sailors since before the adoption of the Constitution. The first seizure of an American merchant ship and enslavement of American seamen by the Barbary Pirates occurred in 1784, followed soon after by others. In March 1786 both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams traveled to London to negotiate with the envoy of the Barbary State of Tripoli for the release of enslaved Americans and the establishment of peace. They reported to American authorities the words of the Tripolitanian ambassador:
It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy’s ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once.
Lest we forget, scarcely one hundred years before the drafting of the federal Constitution, in 1683, the Islamic Ottoman Turks, with an army of 300,000 under the command of Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa, after ravaging and raping their way through the Balkans, had besieged Vienna, which was rescued only by the arrival of the army of King Jan Sobieski of Poland. On September 11, 1683—remember that date—Kara Mustafa vowed that he would massacre the Infidels, water his horses in the Tiber River, and transform Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris into a mosque, just as the Ottomans had done to Hagia Sophia in Constantinople in the 15th century. And, failing that, he pledged that Islam would someday in the future return and conquer the West. Many citizens in Europe…and the United States…see those prophetic words coming true now. Islam has, in actuality, never stopped being at war with Christendom.
From the 8th century onwards, Islam was recognized in its orthodox formulation as expansive and totalitarian. Wherever it went, it brought submission and the sword. At Tours, at Mohacs, during the siege of Malta and at Lepanto, and twice before the gates of Vienna, Europe experienced the ravages and savage brutality of Islam.
And the First Amendment? It applies to American citizens, not to foreigners seeking to enter this country. The Founders never envisaged potentially thousands of Muslim migrants coming to America; they assumed that the new American nation would continue to be a Christian, if non-denominational, nation. More, the Constitution did not in any way bar the particular states from religious tests and restrictions. As the classic study of early American Constitutionalism, Democracy Liberty, and Property: The State Constitutional Conventions of the 1820s (Merrill Peterson, editor, 1966), summarizes it, during the first seventy-five years of the republic “the states dominated the federal system. Basic institutions such as schools and churches; basic freedoms such as the right to vote, to worship freely, to hold office, to speak one’s mind….all were state controlled.” (p. v) The Founders wanted it that way. Indeed, most states entering the original compact had religious tests and some imposed taxes for the support of established religion enshrined in their constitutions. The federal Constitution did not forbid that. The Founders knew that if they had tried to do so, the federal union would have never existed. Many of those restrictions continued well into the 19th century—North Carolina required elective office holders to be Christians until 1868. At no time during this period did the federal courts declare such laws unconstitutional.
Recently, two friends came to my house for dinner. After dinner, we watched one of the most topical and strikingly current films that has come out in recent years. Indeed, given the oppressive, even totalitarian, suppression of free inquiry in Europe these days, I have to wonder how this movie, DAY OF THE SIEGE: September 11, 1683 (an Italian-Polish production, 2012, available on Phase4Films DVD video) ever got made! I say this because in its superb historical realization, DAY OF THE SIEGE offers an unvarnished and truthful, based- on-fact, perspective on orthodox Islam, and its comprehensive, and, yes, totalitarian world-view.
The film stars F. Murray Abraham (remember him from AMADEUS?) as the Italian monk, the Blessed Marco d’Aviano, who both inspires the weak Austrian emperor and assists in cementing a coalition of Christians to defeat the forces of violent, jihadist Islam, and send them reeling back into the Balkans (where they were only finally expelled late in the 19th century). One thing the film does not do is to dismiss the essential and fundamental differences between Islam and Christianity. It does not–like too many Christians do today–declare that “we Muslims and Christians pray to the same god.” For such an assertion flies not only in the face of 1,300 years of history, but also of the orthodox teachings and doctrines of both the Holy Bible and the Quran.
Certainly, there are and have been many notable exceptions from Islamic orthodoxy, but they are just that: exceptions. King Abdullah of Jordan is a “moderate” and many American Muslims reject and do not partake of the zealous orthodoxy that is prescribed in the Quran. But those exceptions confirm the rule: orthodox Islam is not just a “religion,” but an all-encompassing political, cultural, and social system. In fact, those “moderates” should be, at least technically, considered as outliers from their own religion. Again, that is the point: until this country can establish a better and surer screening and verification process of those coming, as Trump demands, is it not preferable to avoid the chance of more terrorism as we have seen in San Bernardino and in Boston or on 9/11? A large majority of the American people think so.
How many of our staunch Muslim allies grant their Christian minorities full religious liberty, the same kind of liberty Muslims enjoy in the United States? How many Christian churches exist in probably our most significant “ally” in the Middle East–after Israel–Saudi Arabia?
And regarding Israel, what kind of policies does it practice? In fact, Israel has implemented many of the policies that Trump wants the United States to implement. For instance, Israeli airport security officials routinely ask travelers what their religion is and often bar Muslims as a result, banning “those whom Israeli authorities suspect of being of Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim origin.”
In reality, when he made his proposal on December 7, Trump altered the national debate and tapped deeply into the public pulse, and the Demopublicans and Obama have been trying to regain the offensive ever since. On January 12 they launched a renewed, double-barreled attack not only on Trump, but on a majority of American citizens who not only feel threatened by terrorism here in the United States, but who also have begun to understand that the elites are quite willing to betray them and their interests at the drop of a hat.