Religion and nationalism

Religion has often been used to push nationalist goals and it’s true of all the major religions. Two of the latest examples are in India

More than 4 million people in India, mostly Muslims, are at risk of being declared foreign migrants as the government pushes a hard-line Hindu nationalist agenda that has challenged the country’s pluralist traditions and aims to redefine what it means to be Indian.
The hunt for migrants is unfolding in Assam, a poor, hilly state near the borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh. Many of the people whose citizenship is now being questioned were born in India and have enjoyed all the rights of citizens, such as voting in elections.
State authorities are rapidly expanding foreigner tribunals and planning to build huge new detention camps. Hundreds of people have been arrested on suspicion of being a foreign migrant — including a Muslim veteran of the Indian army. Local activists and lawyers say the pain of being left off a preliminary list of citizens and the prospect of being thrown into jail have driven dozens to suicide.

and Myanmar

Chu May Paing, a Theravada Buddhist, says that the Rohingya genocide is a symptom of a broader underlying issue. Ashley Aye Aye Dun, founder of Saddha: Buddhists for Peace, a Burmese American Theravada-influenced interfaith network, adds that “ethnic minorities such as the Rakhine, Shan, Karen, Mon, Kachin, and others have also endured violent, state-sanctioned campaigns of persecution since independence.” Paing and Dun point out that nationalist extremism in Myanmar is based on an in/out group dynamic with both ethnic and religious elements. In addition to the Rohingya, there are many other ethnic–religious minorities in Myanmar, which are fundamentally excluded from Myanmar’s core identity, which revolves around the Bamar ethnicity and Buddhist culture. These minorities face challenges accessing education, employment, and public services and gaining citizenship.

This was one of the genius elements of the US Constituion–separate the government and religion. When a country declares a state religion, the religion becomes intertwined with the government often to the detriment of both. Most major religions preach peace, but you can see here how the state uses the religion to pervert that.

I guess it’s good that Trump doesn’t want to wipe Afghanistan off the face of the map

This is more than a touch crazy:

“I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone. It would be over in — literally in ten days. And I don’t want to do — I don’t want to go that route,” Trump said.

I don’t think Trump knows what winning a war means in this situation. The government of Afghanistan is our ally, so destroying Afghanistan would not be a win. If you listen to the video you see him say: “If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people.” He then asks “does that make sense?” and follows with the quote above. This is why I try not to listen to him much, I want to scream at him, no, of course it doesn’t make sense. You’re an idiot.

Trump defines what he means by the best

I think President Trump is trying to be funny::

‘‘We want the cleanest air, we want crystal clear water. And that’s what we’re doing,’’ he said. ‘‘These are incredible goals that everyone in this country can rally behind, and they are rallying behind.’’

This is so obviously a lie, it’s hard to know where to start. Instead look at part of a claim that Trump has repeated:

President Donald Trump touted the United States’ environmental health during a speech in coal country.

“I want clean air. I want crystal clean water. And we’ve got it. We’ve got the cleanest country in the planet right now,” Trump said in an Aug. 21 rally in Charleston, W.Va. “There’s nobody cleaner than us, and it’s getting better and better.”

and:

President Trump claimed during his campaign launch on Tuesday night that the United States has “among the cleanest and sharpest” air and water on Earth.

“Something I want to make clear to the media: We have among the cleanest and sharpest — crystal clean, you’ve heard me say, I want crystal clean — air and water anywhere on Earth,” Trump said during his rally in Florida on Tuesday.

“We are creating a future of American energy independence, and yet our air and water are the cleanest they’ve ever been by far,” Trump continued, referring to the fact that the country recently emerged as the leading global producer of oil and natural gas under his administration.

Now go back to the original article:

These moves come as federal data suggests that US air quality is worsening and its overall greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise. The number of unhealthy days for ozone and soot pollution reached 799 in 2018 and 721 in 2017, according to EPA data, the highest levels they’ve hit since 2012. The nation’s carbon dioxide emissions increased more than 3 percent last year, according to the federal government, their biggest increase since 2010.

The Health Effects Institute’s State of Global Air 2019 report shows the US ranks 123rd out of 195 nations when it comes to smog, or ozone pollution. Dan Greenbaum, the institute’s president, said in an interview that vehicle travel, electricity use, and industrial activity all contribute to America’s high ozone levels.

Trump considers 123rd out of 195 to be the best, remember that whenever he talks about how great something that he’s done is.

America and asylum

There’s been a big debate about whether the detention camps for immigrants in the US should be called concentration camps. Let me instead look at another comparison, the MS St. Louis. If you look at any article about those seeking asylum in the US you will find people vehemently arguing that they shouldn’t be allowed in the US. This is the same argument from the time of the St. Louis, so it’s good to remember what happened there:

The St. Louis set sail from Hamburg to Cuba on May 13, 1939. The vessel under command of Captain Gustav Schröder was carrying 937 passengers, most of them Jewish refugees[3][4] seeking asylum from Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany.

After the ship had been in the harbor for five days, only 28 passengers were allowed to disembark in Cuba.

Cordell Hull, Secretary of State, advised Roosevelt not to accept the Jews. Captain Schröder considered running aground along the coast to allow the refugees to escape but, acting on Cordell Hull’s instructions, US Coast Guard vessels shadowed the ship and prevented such action.

After St. Louis was turned away from the United States, a group of academics and clergy in Canada tried to persuade Canada’s Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, to provide sanctuary to the passengers. The ship could reach Halifax, Nova Scotia in two days. The director of Canada’s Immigration Branch, Frederick Blair, was hostile to Jewish immigration and persuaded the prime minister on June 9 not to intervene.

Research tracing each passenger has determined that 254 of those who returned to continental Europe were murdered during the Holocaust.

This was not an isolated incident, there was a similar argument, but a much better outcome, with the SS Quanza:

After a difficult crossing that included a hurricane, the ship arrived in New York City on 19 August. 196 passengers disembarked, 66 of whom were American citizens. The remaining 121 passengers were denied entry, including nearly all of the Jewish passengers. Quanza proceeded to Veracruz, Mexico, where it arrived on 30 August. Only 35 passengers were allowed to disembark, leaving 86 on board, mostly Belgian Jews.

When First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was informed by Jewish-American associations of the situation, she appealed to her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who dispatched State Department official Patrick Murphy Malin to investigate the passengers’ status. Malin designated all 86 as political refugees and issued them visas, though six chose voluntarily to return to Europe.

Of course this outcome was not good for some:

Assistant Secretary of State Breckenridge Long, who was nominally in charge of refugee issues, was enraged by the granting of visas to the Quanza refugees and insisted that it must not occur again. Long renewed his efforts to block immigration, and by mid-1941, almost no war refugees were allowed into the US.

Breckenridge Long worked very hard to keep them out:

Long came to believe that he was under constant attack from what he termed radicals and the Jewish press for his stance on strict immigration controls mandated by the immigration laws in force at the time. In an intra-department memo he circulated in June 1940 Long wrote: “We can delay and effectively stop for a temporary period of indefinite length the number of immigrants into the United States. We could do this by simply advising our consuls to put every obstacle in the way and to require additional evidence and to resort to various administrative devices which would postpone and postpone and postpone the granting of the visas.”[3][4]

Ultimately, the effect of the immigration policies set by Long’s department was that, during American involvement in the war, ninety percent of the quota places available to immigrants from countries under German and Italian control were never filled. If they had been, an additional 190,000 people could have escaped the atrocities being committed by the Nazis.

Later governments have apologized for the actions regarding the MS St Louis and the refusal of the US to allow more refugees trying to escape from the Nazis, but it seems a lot of people support similar measures now.

Luckily the Trump administration is incompetent

It seems that the Trump administration has continued to press to get rid of DACA and that the Supreme Court has now decided to hear the case:

The Supreme Court will decide whether the Trump administration may shut down a program that shields some 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants from deportation, the court said on Friday.

The court will hear arguments in the case during its next term, which starts in October, and will probably issue its decision in the spring or summer of 2020, ensuring a fierce immigration debate over the outcome in the midst of the presidential campaign.

Since DACA was an executive order, the President has the right to change it but there are still rules that need to be followed and, like most things it does, the Trump administration didn’t do it properly according to courts:

In November, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, ruled against the administration. It acknowledged that presidents have broad powers to alter the policies of earlier administrations but said the legal rationale offered by the Trump administration did not withstand scrutiny. The court also questioned “the cruelty and wastefulness of deporting productive young people to countries with which they have no ties.”

In May, a second federal appeals court, the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., issued a similar ruling.

Here is part of the ruling in the Virginia court:

The point is that the Department had before it at the time it rescinded DACA a reasoned analysis from the office tasked with providing legal advice to all executive branch agencies that supported the policy’s legality. Yet the Department changed course without any explanation for why that analysis was faulty. Cf. Fox Television Stations, 556 U.S. at 516 (“[A] reasoned explanation is needed for disregarding facts and circumstances that underlay . . . the prior policy.”).

Nor did the Department adequately account for the reliance interests that would be affected by its decision. Hundreds of thousands of people had structured their lives on the availability of deferred action during the over five years between the implementation of DACA and the decision to rescind. Although the government insists that Acting considered these interests in connection with her decision to rescind DACA, her Memo makes no mention of them.

We can assume more incompetence from the Trump administration but at some point they will actually get things right, so we need to get him out of office.

Immigrant detention

I feel pretty bad about not knowing this:

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee had found that migrants in Rio Grande Valley facilities were hungry, with some eating only “sandwiches of two pieces of dry bread and one slice of ham.” They were thirsty, with up to 20 migrants sharing the same cup to drink from the water cooler. They were embarrassed to use a toilet in front of 50 other people and they couldn’t take a shower or brush their teeth or even wash their hands with soap and dry them with a towel, the judge found. At night, they couldn’t sleep. The lights were left on, as they shivered beneath an aluminum blanket on the concrete floor, the judge found.

Gee ruled in June 2017 that these Obama-era conditions violated a 1997 settlement agreement requiring that immigrant children in the government’s custody be housed in “safe and sanitary” conditions, and that the government maintain “concern for the particular vulnerability of minors.”

President Obama wasn’t perfect and in some areas, like this, he was pretty bad. And yet, President Trump makes it even worse:

But the Trump administration protested. The 1997 consent decree, known as the Flores Settlement Agreement, didn’t say anything about providing a “toothbrush,” “towels,” “dry clothing,” “soap,” or even “sleep,” the administration has argued.

Here’s the actual argument:

It got to the point that one of the judges actually had to ask if the Trump administration lawyer being able to sleep was part of ‘safe and sanitary’. Really:

“And [it’s] at least obvious enough so that if you’re putting people into a crowded room to sleep on a concrete floor with an aluminum foil blanket on top of them, that doesn’t comply with the agreement,” he said. “I mean, it may be that they don’t get super-thread-count Egyptian linens. I get that. But the testimony that the district court believed was, it’s really cold — in fact, it gets colder when we complain about it being cold. We’re forced to sleep crowded with the lights on all night long.”

“No one would argue that this is safe and sanitary,” he said. “Or at least I don’t think that you’re arguing that. Are you?”

Really, fuck these fuckers.

The Trump administration in a nutshell

This is just one case, but it shows exactly the mentality of President Trump and his administration:

“I see a young man in a white shirt. He runs out toward the road where I am,” Todd recounted. She says the man was pleading for assistance. “I can’t just leave this guy on the side of the road. I have to go see if I can help.”

The young man told Todd that his sister, 18-year-old Esmeralda, was in trouble.

“I mean, she can hardly walk, she’s very dazed,” recalled Todd.

The migrants took shelter in Todd’s car while she called and texted a friend who is the legal counsel for the local U.S. Border Patrol, asking for advice. Before that friend could reply, a sheriff’s deputy showed up. The deputy called in the U.S. Border Patrol.

An agent was soon reading Todd her Miranda rights. Eight days later, a Department of Homeland Security investigator accompanied by a Texas Ranger arrived at Todd’s office with a search warrant for her cellphone. Todd says she was told she’d have the phone back in a matter of hours.

Speaking by phone from the migrant detention center in Sierra Blanca, Texas, Esmeralda said of Todd, “I’m really grateful to her.” She said doctors told her she was on the brink of death by the time she got to the hospital.

Todd might go to jail because she helped someone who very well might have died if she didn’t help. And people love that this is happening. Christians love this. Jesus wept.

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