Trump’s speech on Islam is rife with pitfalls. Experts say there’s little upside to it. – The Washington Post

Fasten one’s seatbelts (again):

CNN reports that top White House adviser Stephen Miller is drafting the speech on Islam that President Trump is slated to deliver in Saudi Arabia later this week. As you may recall, Miller was also at the center of crafting and defending the administration’s controversial immigration ban, which has been blocked by the courts because it unconstitutionally bars people from entering the country based on their religion.

Miller’s role perfectly captures the problem with this speech: Trump and his top advisers captivated his base by engaging in the worst Islamophobic rhetoric, perpetuating slurs about Muslims in the United States and around the world. But if Trump uses this speech to make amends for his past statements, he’ll alienate the very base of supporters who were the targets of this anti-Muslim strategy.

The administration is suggesting that he will, in fact, try to make such amends. National security adviser H.R. McMaster, who is also helping to write the speech, told reporters that it will be “an inspiring but direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology and the president’s hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam to dominate across the world.” McMaster further promised that the speech will “unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilization” and “demonstrate America’s commitment to our Muslim partners.”

But experts I spoke with today warned that this speech is so fraught with pitfalls that they are surprised Trump is even attempting it. They say handling such a nuanced topic as religion is a challenge even for the most learned minds and skilled orators. Yet Trump faces that problem and the additional challenge of striking a balance that is unique to his political situation.

Should Trump deliver the speech McMaster promises, it might briefly please his Muslim audience in Riyadh, but anger his right-wing base at home — something Trump seems unlikely to risk given his current precarious political and legal circumstances. On the other hand, if he were to say something to irk his Muslim audience that might satisfy his domestic base, he could sabotage the purpose of the trip and the speech itself: to solidify cooperative partnerships between the United States and Muslim countries to jointly combat terrorism.

“I would shy away from giving a talk like this in this country, much less in Riyadh,” McCants added.

Trump faces all manner of pitfalls. His first test will be whether he says or does anything to erroneously suggest that Saudi Arabia, a repressive regime that enforces Wahhabism, an extreme version of Islam, is representative of the faith. “Much of what Saudi Arabia encourages as proper Islam is not what many Muslims in the West would accept,” said Daniel Byman, a professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a terrorism expert.

The risks are heightened for Trump not just because of his unpredictability, but also because of his — and his inner circle’s — anti-Muslim track record. It’s hard to imagine that Trump would back away from a posture that earned him so much adoration from his base, or from his defense of his immigration ban, in which he has invested substantial domestic political capital.

“I don’t see President Trump as someone who’s going to walk away from that, “said John Espisito, director of the Bridge Initiative, a project at Georgetown University that studies Islamophobia. “He’s not someone who says ‘I got it wrong.’”

But even if Trump were to try to backpedal from his anti-Muslim rhetoric, it still might not necessarily be credible to his audience in Riyadh. As Espisito pointed out, the Trump team’s Islamophobia runs very deep: His top advisers have claimed that Islam is not a religion, but rather a dangerous political ideology. Trump himself has said, “I think Islam hates us” and that the Koran “teaches some negative vibe.” Top strategist Stephen K. Bannon has compared Islam to Nazism, communism and fascism. Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka has refused to say whether Trump himself thinks Islam is a religion.

Beyond this, Trump would have to actually reverse policy — for example, by dropping his immigration ban— to render any possible conciliatory rhetoric even remotely credible. “If the president extends an olive branch but then doesn’t implement any policy changes,” said Byman, “that’s going to send a louder message than a speech.”

Indeed, the risk is that Trump’s speech could make things worse. Byman warned that if Trump commits an accidental misstep or, perhaps worse, is derogatory— which can hardly be ruled out — his speech could potentially further a widespread perception in the Muslim world that the United States is “hostile to Islam.”

Most crucially, said McCants, Trump’s speech could undermine the United States’ relationship with the countries that have agreed to partner with it in combating terrorism. “He doesn’t have to say happy things about Islam to sell them on the partnership,” said McCants. But if he says anything to alienate Muslims, it could “make it harder for Muslim countries to partner with us.”

And that, in the end, could make it harder to achieve Trump’s own stated goal of defeating what he calls “radical Islamic terrorism” than if he had not given a speech on Islam at all.

Source: Trump’s speech on Islam is rife with pitfalls. Experts say there’s little upside to it. – The Washington Post

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The EB-5 Visa: United States Citizenship For Sale? Forbes

Thanks to the nepotism of Trump, increased attention is being paid to the US investor immigrant program. Like all such programs, the benefits are elusive and the potential for fraud significant:

The EB-5 visa program, named because it is the fifth preference employment-based visa, was created in 1990. It was, according to the USCIS, intended to “to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.” Under the program, entrepreneurs, and their spouses and unmarried children under 21, are eligible to apply for a green card if they invest in a commercial enterprise that meets certain criteria. A green card grants an immigrant permission to remain in the United States indefinitely: green card holders and their families may apply for citizenship but they don’t have to.

And here’s why the visa is making news: just before the new law was signed, Nicole Meyer, the sister of Trump’s son-in-law and presidential adviser, Jared Kushner, flew to China to encourage investors to take advantage of the program by investing in Kushner Companies. Meyer drew fire for comments related to the program, suggesting that her family would be appreciative of their investment. According to a spokesman for the company, the inclusion was not intended to curry favor. Instead, “[i]n the course of discussing this project and the firm’s history with potential investors, Ms. Meyer wanted to make clear that her brother had stepped away from the company in January and has nothing to do with this project. Kushner Companies apologizes if that mention of her brother was in any way interpreted as an attempt to lure investors. That was not Ms. Meyer’s intention.”

The apology has done little to stem concerns over what some believe is a clear conflict of interest. It’s also an uncomfortable position for many on the Hill who find themselves in the position of defending a law that allows investors with money to enter the country on a fast track.

There’s a good reason why Meyer targeted China and not, say, the Philippines. With money to spend and a desire to enter the United States, the Chinese account for more than 80% of EB-5 visas issued. A trip to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) page on EB-5 visas bears that out: the only foreign translation easily accessible on the page is Simplified Chinese.

How much money? For purposes of the EB-5 visa, the minimum qualifying investment in the United States is $1 million. However, if the investment is made in a high-unemployment area or rural area, the investment minimum is just $500,000. Critics allege that the criteria for “high-unemployment area or rural area” are often ignored and easily manipulated. For example, the development touted by Meyer is in Jersey City, a few miles away from Manhattan – and where Forbes offices are located.

Despite criticisms of the program, wealthy investors view it as a way to legally move to the United States – and there’s no requirement that those with the cash possess any specific skills or education, as with certain other visas. It is, some say, citizenship for sale. Jonathan Grode, an immigration attorney and U.S. Practice Director with Green and Spiegel, LLC, stresses that it’s not “buying citizenship.” If the investment fails and the jobs are not created, he notes, the investor is subject to deportation. “I’m not aware of any other program in the world that has that risk,” he says. “So any characterizations to the contrary are unfair.”

Grode says that the EB-5 is a good alternative for high net worth individuals “who want to control their own destiny.” The wait times, he explains, for certain categories of green cards can be extremely long and the E-B5 has no quota backlogs except for those individuals born in China.

The EB-5 visa is, however, not always a sure thing. If an investor doesn’t keep adequate records and the source of funds to be invested is too muddy, then the visa can be difficult to secure. Grode points out that many countries around the world transact in cash or hard currency (gold) and might not have verifiable bank statements: those applicants would need an experienced attorney to help prove that the funds are lawful.

The process can also be very expensive. A $500,000 investment needs to be at risk for loss for several years. According to Grode, additional administrative, government, and legal fees could run another $100,000.

Other visas may be better alternatives, depending on the circumstances. If someone has a U.S. citizen spouse, for example, that process will be far less intense and costly. In addition, for those that want to get to the United States faster and want to run their own business, Grode may suggest a look at other visa options such as the E-2 (treaty investor) and the L-1A (intracompany transferee) first.

Still, the EB-5 remains a viable visa option for those with money. But is it really a path to citizenship? Not exactly. Grode clarifies, “It’s a path to a green card.” According to Grode, EB-5 green card holders do not get any kind of preferential treatment for citizenship when they apply: they are in the same category as all other green card holders. Many, he says, won’t even apply if it puts their native citizenship at risk: they will just remain in the United States on a green card.

Shepard Fairey and Ai Weiwei On Using Art To Fight President Trump

Always find Ai Weisei’s art and activism of interest, and the role art can play in debate:

Among the colorful poster art from the Women’s March protests, you may have seen the red-white-and-blue face of a Muslim-American woman wearing an American flag hijab–one of a series of inauguration-inspired “We the People” images by graphic artist Shepard Fairey, he of the Obama “Hope” poster fame.

Commissioned by the non-profit Amplifier Foundation, Fairey’s “We the People” posters were alluring visual representations of the resistance movement: a group of diverse people pushing back against the Trump administration’s fearmongering and racism.

Like most of his work, the posters were sold on his “Obey Giant” company website for $100 (some $900,000 proceeds were donated to the ACLU), though many of the artist’s original works have fetched upwards of $70,000 at auction.

Today, Fairey has launched a series of limited-edition skateboards in response to Trump’s first 100 days as president. Collaborating with the Skateroom, a San Francisco-based contemporary art brand, Fairey has turned his “No Future” artwork into a kind of skateboard triptych.

The Skateroom has also released three skate decks by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, showing Ai flashing his middle finger at the White House. The black-and-white “fuck you” to the Trump administration is part of a series of images of Ai flipping off various buildings and landmarks around the world.

Ai Weiwei, who was not available for an interview, said in a statement about the collaboration: “My favorite word is ‘act’. I am partnering with the Skateroom for that very reason.”

Proceeds from Ai’s collaboration will go to Bridging Peoples, a non-profit charity in Turkey dedicated to combatting all forms of discrimination, and B’Tselem, an organization supporting human rights in Israeli-occupied territories.

“During the filming of Human Flow, my documentary on the global refugee condition, I had the opportunity to speak with individuals from both B’Tselem and the Bridging Peoples Association in Turkey,” Ai said. “What these two organizations do is very valuable to society, both in fighting against injustice and in helping those that are unfortunate.”

In a conversation over email, Fairey spoke with the Daily Beast about the meaning of “No Future,” the urgency to create art in the Trump era, and the artists calling for censorship of Dana Schutz’s “Open Casket” painting at this year’s Whitney Biennial.

DB: When did you first conceive “No Future” and what is the message you are trying to convey with this work? Is it an extension of your drive to “question everything”?

SF: The piece does fall within my philosophy of questioning everything, but there are more specific reasons for the image and text. I’m a big fan of wordplay and language in general, so a few of the ideas in the piece began percolating early in Trump’s bid for the presidency.

Inspired by lyrics from the Sex Pistols (“No Future”) and the hubris of the early European inhabitants of what would become the United States that led to their belief that it was God’s will for them to conquer ocean to ocean, I think that what led largely to Trump’s election was the manifestation of the too-common mindset that facts don’t matter; in other words, “manifest destiny”—the truth will not penetrate the barriers of our ideology if the truth doesn’t sit well with our predispositions.

I come from punk rock so the Sex Pistols and their song “God Save the Queen” with the refrain “No Future” was a big protest anthem for me growing up. However, unlike the nihilism of “God Save the Queen” my use of “No Future” employs more of a bait and switch tactic. A lot of people felt defeated and hopeless by Trump’s election, but I feel his election should energize people to resist apathy, ignorance, sexism, xenophobia, and racism.

Source: Shepard Fairey and Ai Weiwei On Using Art To Fight President Trump

The Dangers of Blaming Trump for Anti-Semitism – The Atlantic

Good column by Peter Beinart:

But it now appears that Trump may have been, partially, right. On Thursday, Israeli police arrested a Jewish Israeli American teenager for leveling some of the bomb threats. Earlier this month, prosecutors charged Juan Thompson, an African American who had previously worked at a left-leaning publication, with some of the others. There’s no evidence that either suspect tried to frame Trump supporters or white supremacists. And it’s still possible that right-wingers called in other bomb threats, or committed some of the other anti-Semitic incidents that have erupted since Trump’s election. Still, if two of the primary perpetrators of the JCC bomb scares turn out to be a Jewish Israeli and a left-leaning African American, that will, indeed, turn out to be “the reverse” of what Trump’s critics expected.

Trump’s critics—and I’m one of them—should learn from that.

Many critics have a narrative in their heads: That Trump and his supporters think and do bigoted things. It did not come out of nowhere. Trump really did say that “Islam hates us” and that a judge could not be impartial because he was Mexican American. He really did run a closing campaign ad that featured three Jews alongside language about “special interests” and a “global power structure” that has “trillions of dollars at stake in this election.” Most of his supporters really do dislike Muslims, according to polls. And some of them assaulted African Americans who protested Trump’s rallies.

Still, narratives can explain too much. Trump is like the kid in class who perpetually misbehaves. Liberals—especially Jewish liberals—risk becoming the teacher who sees graffiti written on a locker and sends him to the principal without carefully checking the handwriting.It’s not just the JCC bomb scares. It’s become commonplace to hear Jewish liberals claim that, in the words of former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Trump has given “license and permission to anti-Semites” and thus “opened the floodgates” for anti-Semitic attacks.

But have the floodgates really opened? According to the FBI, anti-Semitic incidents did rise 9 percent between 2014 and 2015, when Trump announced his candidacy. And New York City has announced that there were substantially more anti-Semitic incidents during the first two months of 2017 than during the equivalent period in 2016. But neither the FBI nor the Anti-Defamation League has yet reported national data for 2016. And defining what constitutes an anti-Semitic incident is tricky. If the JCC bomb threats—many of which appear to have been carried out by an Israeli Jew—boost the numbers, does that really show that anti-Semitism is rising in Trump’s America?

If data on rising anti-Semitism is thin, data on rising anti-Semitism by Trump supporters is even thinner. The ADL did find last year that many of the anti-Semitic tweets directed at Jewish journalists came from pro-Trump accounts. Still, there’s no evidence that Trump supporters are behind the recent spike in anti-Semitic incidents, if there even is a real spike. And a February Pew Research Center poll found that Republicans and evangelical Christians—two core Trump constituencies—feel even more favorably towards Jews than Democrats do. Since Trump’s takeover of the GOP, Republican fondness for Jews has actually increased.

If liberals have been too quick to blame Trump supporters for anti-Semitism, they’ve also been too quick to blame Trump’s advisors. Liberals frequently hurl the charge at Steve Bannon or his old publication, Breitbart. But the two Breitbart articles critics most commonly call anti-Semitic—an attack on the Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol that called him a “renegade Jew” and an attack on the Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum that called her “a Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned”—were both written by Jews. And even the former Breitbart columnist Ben Shapiro, who calls Bannon “one of the most vicious people in politics,” doesn’t think he’s an anti-Semite. Jewish liberals often accuse Sebastian Gorka of anti-Semitism too because of his associations with far-right groups in Hungary. Yet they’ve never produced a single anti-Semitic thing he’s said.

The problem is this. Trump really is fomenting hate against certain groups. He’s called Islam America’s enemy. Gorka won’t even acknowledge that Islam is a religion. Bannon has proposed closing “seditious” mosques. Breitbart hypes every act of violence by a Muslim or an undocumented Mexican against a white person. What’s happening to Jews, by contrast, is far less severe. Yes, Trump was slow to condemn anti-Semitic attacks. Yes, his presidency pleases alt-right white nationalists like Richard Spencer. But unlike Muslims and immigrant Mexicans, Jews wield influence in the Trump White House. They’re mostly white. They’re highly assimilated. And Republicans like them. There’s a reason that, according to Pew, Republicans are almost thirty points more likely to feel warmly towards Jews than towards Muslims. Republicans consider Jews part of the West.

For Jews, this is strange. When they see their government foment hyper-nationalist bigotry, their historical memory inclines them to see themselves as its target. But for the most part, they’re not. As opportunists usually do, Trump and his advisors are going after weaker prey: less assimilated minorities who Fox News has already been demonizing for a decade or more. Anti-Semitism isn’t central to this spasm of American nativism in the way it was a century ago. There’s nothing wrong with being vigilant about anti-Semitism so long as it doesn’t blind you to reality. Strange though Jews may find it, this time they aren’t the main show.

Source: The Dangers of Blaming Trump for Anti-Semitism – The Atlantic

How a Crazy Idea About Islam Went From the Fringe to the White House | Mother Jones

The Islamophobia ‘industry’ and its influence:

In 2011, shortly after the controversy over the so-called Ground Zero mosque and the spread of a conspiracy theory that Shariah was taking over America, the Center for American Progress published a lengthy report titled “Fear Inc.,” which documented what amounted to a cottage industry of Islamophobic misinformation. Prominent players include Act for America, a “national security” group that currently boasts Flynn as a board member. Another is Frank Gaffney, the founder of the Center for Security Policy, which has pushed the unlikely notion that Islamists are secretly trying to infiltrate the American government and prominent organizations—including the National Rifle Association—through a process he calls “civilization jihad.”

“These were people who were always on Fox News, being cited on Pamela Geller’s blog, who were always on Sean Hannity, the Christian Broadcast Network, the National Review, and others,” says Faiz Shakir, the national political director of the American Civil Liberties Union and one of the authors of the report. (Pamela Geller writes a prominent anti-Muslim blog.) “You had major political groups who were then taking this and getting it into the mouths of lawmakers. At that time it was Allen West, Herman Cain, and Michele Bachmann. We went through a period where we had really fought back and marginalized some of these voices,” says Shakir. “They lost some credibility and respect in Republican circles—until Donald Trump came around. He gave them the biggest platform they ever could have imagined.”

This network also had links with what would become Trump’s inner circle. Gaffney appeared on Bannon’s radio show 34 times. Gorka, a former Breitbart editor, has regularly appeared at Center for Security Policy events and on Gaffney’s own radio program. Gaffney once defended the disgraced former FBI agent turned anti-Muslim crusader John Guandolo—who has said that mosques in the United States “do not have a First Amendment right to anything” and has helped draft anti-Muslim legislation.

Trump himself has expressed some of the key tenets of the Islamophobic right. In late 2015, Trump proposed a total ban on Muslims entering the country, justifying the idea by citing a debunked survey commissioned by Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy and conducted by Kellyanne Conway, who would become Trump’s campaign manager. The survey claimed that 51 percent of those polled believe that Muslims in America should have the choice to be governed by Shariah, and a quarter agreed that violence against Americans in the United States “can be justified as part of the global jihad.” A few weeks earlier, he stated that the United States will have “absolutely no choice” but to shut down mosques because “some bad things are happening.”

There have already been previous efforts to prevent mosques from being built using the “Islam is not a religion” argument. “Those are all real efforts,” says Shakir. “They have been on the back burner and bubbling up for a long time, and now they have people in positions of power who can effectuate these radical ideologies that they’ve long held on to.” Until Trump provides some clarity on his true views, people on both sides of the issue may assume that he is unwilling to publicly state that Islam deserves the same legal status and protections as other religions.

Source: How a Crazy Idea About Islam Went From the Fringe to the White House | Mother Jones

Donald Trump: Facts, Fascism and Tyranny: Snyder | Time.com

Historian Timothy Snyder (Bloodlands, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century) on the risk of Trump:

The Founding Fathers designed the constitution to prevent some Americans from exercising tyranny. Alert to the classical examples they knew, the decline of ancient Greece and Rome into oligarchy and empire, they established the rule of law, checks and balances, and regular elections as the means of preserving the new republic. Thus far, it has worked. But it need not work forever.

We might imagine that the American system must somehow always sustain itself. But a broader look at the history of democratic republics established since our own revolution reveals that most of them have failed. Politicians who emerge from democratic practices can then work to undo democratic institutions. This was true in the rise of fascism in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as during the spread of communism in the 1940s, and indeed in the new wave of authoritarian regime changes of the 21st century. Indeed, absent a truly decisive revolution, which is a rare event, a regime change depends upon such people — regime changers — emerging in one system and transforming it into another.

It is in this light that we should consider President Donald Trump and his closest advisors and spokespeople. Although they occupy the positions they do thanks to an election, there is little reason to believe that they support the American constitutional system as it stands, and much to remind us of authoritarian regimes changes of the recent past. A basic weapon of regime changers, as fascists realized nearly a century ago, is to destroy the concept of truth. Democracy requires the rule of law, the rule of law depends upon trust, and trust depends upon citizens’ acceptance of factuality. The president and his aides actively seek to destroy Americans’ sense of reality. Not only does the White House spread “alternative facts,” but Kellyanne Conway openly proclaims this as right and good. Post-factuality is pre-fascism.

The function of the press, as the Founding Fathers understood, was to generate the common knowledge on which citizens could understand and debate policy, and to prevent rulers from behaving tyrannically. Whether from the far right or the far left, the regime changers of the twentieth century understood that the media had to be bullied and deprived of importance. When Steve Bannon refers to the press as the “opposition,” or Mr. Trump calls journalists “enemies,” they are expressing their support for the demolition of the historical, ethical, and intellectual bases of the political life we take for granted. Indeed, when Mr. Trump calls journalists “enemies of the people,” he is quoting Joseph Stalin.

Since the end of the cold war, the new authoritarian regimes that have emerged in eastern Europe have taken the form of authoritarian kleptocracies: Russia is the most enduring example of this model; a revolution halted the development of a similar regime in Ukraine in 2014. The Founders, opponents of a British monarchy, were alert to the danger that government might serve to enrich a single family. The emoluments clause of the constitution confirms our common sense: no one can be trusted to defend the interests of citizens if his policy choices can make him richer. This president has not revealed the basic financial information about himself, but we know that he has business interests at home and abroad. Russians and Ukrainians have been quick to notice a familiar pattern.

In recent authoritarian regime changes, in Poland and Hungary as well as Russia, the executive power has been able to sideline the judiciary and then humble the legislature. The idea of checks and balances is enshrined in our constitution, but of course also in theirs, is that none of the three branches of government can dominate the others. In denigrating judges, Mr. Trump attacks the geometry of the system. Once the courts are tamed, the legislature cannot defend itself, and we have authoritarianism. If legislators do not support the judiciary, then their turn for humiliation will come, and the laws they pass will be unenforceable. This has been the pattern in recent authoritarian regime changes around the world.

Right-wing authoritarians today use the threat or the reality of terrorism to seek and hold power. The one consistent policy of the Trump administration thus far has been to encourage a Muslim terrorist attack within or upon the United States. Everywhere the first executive order on refugees and immigrants was understood as directed against Muslims. The major consequence, most likely the intended one, is the alienation of Muslims at home and abroad. The proposal to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem is similar: it will never take place, so serves only to alienate and enrage Muslims. Michael Flynn is in the same category: though he was only national security advisor for three weeks, few Muslims will forget that he referred to their religion as a “cancer.” Modern authoritarianism is terror management, and so modern authoritarians need terror attacks: real, simulated, or both. As James Madison noticed long ago, tyranny arises “on some favorable emergency.”

The experience of the 21st century, as well as the experience of the 1930s, teaches that it takes about a year to engineer a regime change. To what, exactly? We cannot deduce, from the Trump administration’s destructive chaos and ideological incoherence, what the post-democratic American regime would be. We can be sure, however, that we would miss being free. The prospect of children and grandchildren growing up under tyranny is terrifyingly real. History can remind us of the fragile fundaments of our own democracy. But what follows now is us up to us.

Source: Donald Trump: Facts, Fascism and Tyranny | Time.com

Trump may praise Canada’s immigration model, but he would never adopt it: Ibbitson

Good analysis by John Ibbitson:

Although Donald Trump praised Canada’s immigration system in his speech to Congress on Tuesday night, he does not understand that system. To emulate the Canadian model, Mr. Trump would have to transform not only U.S. immigration, but his own thinking.

“Nations around the world – like Canada, Australia and many others – have a merit-based immigration system,” Mr. Trump observed in his address. “It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.”

This is correct, as far as it goes, which is not very far. Yes, this country employs a points system that recruits immigrants based on their ability to integrate into the Canadian economy.

But if Mr. Trump truly wished to adapt the Canadian immigration ethos, he would have to embrace concepts he currently rejects. First and foremost, he would have to fling open the doors.

The United States brings in about one million legal permanent residents each year, about a third of one per cent of its population. Canada will bring in 300,000 immigrants this year, just under nine-tenths of one per cent of this country’s population. So to make the U.S. immigration system more Canadian, Congress and the Trump administration would need to almost triple the current annual intake, to around 2.8 million new arrivals a year.

That increased intake, if the Canadian way became the American way, would include 280,000 refugees. While most immigrants to Canada are either economic class or family class, about 10 per cent are refugees, brought in on humanitarian grounds. The United States typically brings in about 70,000 refugees a year, a quarter of the Canadian equivalent, and Mr. Trump wants to ban refugees entirely. That’s really not very Canadian of him.

The President believes immigrants should be self-supporting, and indeed they should. But the most successful immigrants to Canada often do not have the professional degrees or fat bank accounts Mr. Trump no doubt has in mind. As my colleague David Parkinson reported, Canada seeks immigrants not only for the professions and knowledge industries, but in the skilled trades and other blue-collar sectors.

Those sorts of jobs in the United States are often filled by illegal Latino workers. To emulate the Canadian system, the United States would have to convert the stream of illegal immigrants from Mexico into a legal stream. Mr. Trump is trying, instead, to choke off the flow altogether.

The President would have to welcome Muslim immigrants. The Canadian system is blind to ethnicity or religion. Muslims are as welcome as any others, provided they meet the criteria. Mr. Trump, in contrast, wants to ban the citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States in any circumstances.

Most important of all, Mr. Trump would have to embrace multiculturalism: the celebration of diversity within a united society. Such a concept would be alien to the President and his supporters.

Immigration is the key to prosperity and growth for any advanced country. Both the United States and Canada have a fertility rate below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per mother. (The United States is at 1.9 and Canada is at 1.6.) Efforts to increase fertility rates in Europe and in Quebec have mostly failed. (You cannot bribe a couple to have a child; it is insulting even to try.) Immigrants are the best – indeed, the only – way to keep an economy filled with young workers paying the taxes needed to sustain the growing ranks of the retired.

But Mr. Trump, however much he might praise the Canadian model, will never adopt it. That sort of openness to the world just is not in his nature.

Source: Trump may praise Canada’s immigration model, but he would never adopt it – The Globe and Mail

Muslim Refugees Were Admitted at a Lower Rate During Trump’s Refugee Ban – The New York Times

Numbers tell the story:

During the week when President Trump’s refugee ban was in effect, refugees were allowed in on a case-by-case basis. Just 15 percent of the 843 refugees who were admitted during this time were Muslim, compared with a weekly average of 45 percent in 2016.

Only two refugees were allowed in from the seven Muslim-majority countries affected by President Trump’s travel ban. About 1,800 refugees from these countries had arrived in the United States every week on average since 2016.

Where’s Jonathan Swift When We Need Him? – The Daily Beast

Nice piece by John Stubbs on Swift’s enduring relevance in a “post-truth” and “alternative facts” world (George Orwell is also worth re-reading):

Jonathan Swift’s “Essay upon the Art of Political Lying” tells us that “post-truth” statements are nothing new. “As the vilest writer hath his readers, so the greatest liar hath his believers: and it often happens, that if a lie be believed only for an hour, it hath done its work.” He was writing in 1710, but his words have been borne out by much that has happened in the last year. Swift also begged a question that many are asking now: Will there be any room left in politics for those who aren’t prepared to lie?

Swift’s hatred of falsehood sat oddly, in fact, with his love of a good fib. Some of his most celebrated works were elaborate hoaxes: His best known book, Gulliver’s Travels, was presented to the public as a voyager’s genuine memoir, and large numbers of readers were apparently taken in. Swift is generally regarded as the foremost satirist in English. It’s mentioned less often, though, that he was also a master of the primary art of getting facts in order and checking sources. By the time Gulliver emerged into the world, Swift had already made a formidable name for himself as a journalist as well as a satirist.

Satirists of course have license to exaggerate and distort; but Swift insisted that there was an absolute link between verifiable fact and moral truth. He had a devastating way of letting figures speak for themselves. In one of his first publishing sensations, an anti-war work called The Conduct of the Allies (1711), he used secret information provided by friends within government. The Conduct was an epoch-shattering critique of the corrupt means being used to prolong Britain’s war against France. Swift exposed a political and financial elite set on warfare for the sake of profit, and demonstrated that “Shock Doctrine” tactics were in use long before 20th century economists figured them out. His astounding book, staggering for its deployment of research and privileged information as well as lethally brilliant writing, helped end a long and largely senseless campaign.

Swift often wrote of satire as holding up a mirror or magnifying glass to reality. Before Swift, the word “satire” was often synonymous for “libel,” the idea being that satirical writers could say more or less anything they wanted about someone they hated. Swift was not at all timid when it came to voicing his dislikes, but sought to restore a higher purpose to his chosen mode of writing. For it to carry weight, satirical mockery had to be based on solid claims. And it was important, then as now, that satire scored the points it needed: for by making people of influence seem ridiculous when they acted wrongly, it made them seem a little less frightening, and opened a space in which there could be meaningful free speech about what such people were doing.

As a protest writer in the 1720s and ’30s, Swift laid bare the injustice of British rule in Ireland. He was an Irishman himself, born in Dublin in 1667, but to English parents. To give his writing substance he went to inordinate lengths in checking the situation in the Irish countryside, where people were starving as a result of exploitative land practices and repressive legislation. He made sure that he was fully up to date with the most reliable trade figures and consulted widely with well-placed sources in business and administration.

His subsequent approach to writing itself was a dangerous one, namely to take a “post-truth” mentality as far as it could go. He fought hypocrisy by creating a series of masks. The most memorable specimen in his portfolio was his Modest Proposal, a short essay of 1729. In this he assumed the voice of an entirely sincere and indeed socially concerned psychopath. Swift’s “proposer” argues calmly that poor Irish children could be sold as delicacies for wealthy tables. The essay’s power comes partly from Swift’s vision of where callousness might lead, but also from a ruthlessly detached observation of reality. He described scenes of deprivation that all his readers could recognize.

Many of the great satirical hits in Gulliver’s Travels also take their strength from Swift’s honesty about facts that his fellow Britons and Europeans preferred to ignore or view differently. One such moment comes when Gulliver explains to the gigantic king of Brobdingnag how politics and war work in Europe. Nothing he says is very sensational; Swift’s readers could deny none of it. And so the king of Brobdingnag concludes that most of them must belong to a really horrible species of “vermin.”

A large part of Swift’s cultural legacy is his way of showing how even morally developed people can be brought to accept horrifying practices. The secret is tied up with what those people assume to be the truth. In the Travels, a morally “superior” race of horse-beings—Swift loved horses—share their land with rather brutal, dishonest and undeniably filthy humans, the Yahoos. The horses decide they have no choice but to exterminate their two-legged neighbors. This “final solution” is arguably the punishment Swift is saying we humans will ultimately deserve—for our violence to each other and contempt for the environment. But he leaves a less than inspiring image of those killer horses, which had recognizable counterparts in Swift’s actual world.

The scale and daring of “post-truth” politics might lead some to think that lies can only be fought with lies. The work of Jonathan Swift should make us pause at such a moment: the moral case, Swift urged, is undeniable when the empirical case has clear validity. This unparalleled creator of satirical fiction demonstrated that those concerned with truth should keep faith with it.

Source: Where’s Jonathan Swift When We Need Him? – The Daily Beast

What Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand About Anti-Semitism – The New Yorker

Thought provoking piece by James Carroll: