Thursday, June 1, 2017

Is Bernie Sanders a bigot against billionares?

Here's a rather interesting article of philosophy/politics writer Alonzo Fyfe. He claims that during the campaign Bernie Sanders engaged in a form of "othering" much similar to Trump. Where as Trumps targets immigrants Sanders focuses on millionaires and billionaires. According to the paper we should aim for a better candidate than Sanders in three ways in 2020, one of them being the "us and them" mentality of Sanders of singling out wealthy people and blaming them for people's problems. Sanders promises to "attack the enemy", defeat them, which then would result to people living much better lives, what they "could have been" if not for the obstruction of the rich. Fyfe even suggests "the case can be made" that certain wealthy people having even more health under their wings, instead of "some senator", could result to a better world overall.

Fyfe is highly nuanced. It is important not to misinterpret his arguments and attack a straw man. I am also certainly not a "fanatic Sanders fan" in the sense of being ideologically predisposed to defending him over any possible criticisms. He was in no way a perfect candidate either. I agree with Fyfe that Sanders does not always respect scientific evidence. There are beliefs about science commonly found on the left which are wrong, just like is often the case in right wing circles, and Sanders is no exception when it comes to this. I would also have liked to hear more about America itself. Sanders does not seem to be too interested when it comes to addressing global poverty. I still do not agree with the idea that global corporatocracy is the way to go, even if it could help momentarily with lifting some numbers of people over poverty, and it is on such grounds that I'd argue for revising certain trade deals instead of completely shutting down trade. Not that Sanders is completely against trade, mind you, but I understand where Fyfe is coming from when Sanders' rhetoric tends to focus on "keeping jobs in the USA" as if it's inherently wrong for even poorer people to have a better chance at a fair living standard.

But I do have several comments here I consider to be relevant. The paper does not argue that Sanders is the perfect leftist equivalent of Trump, but makes the analogy between the two.

First off I agree with Fyfe that bigotry is "wrong in itself". However certain bigoted actions or rhetoric may be more immoral than others. Bigotry can still be wrong "in itself" while the above is true as well. In this case there are several important, morally relevant differences between the bigotry of Trump against Muslims and Sanders against millionaires. Trump himself has a positive bias in favour of rich people. He seems to put aside bigotry against Muslims when it comes to rich Saudi Arabians -- even if they are closer to ISIS than anyone else. It is also the case that wealthy people have tremendous power over society. This has become more and more true as democracy has been corrupted by big financial interests. Wealthy individuals have the potential to purchase political representation to defend themselves, modify tax legislation and protect their interests through state intervention. Not all do so, obviously, but their power to do so, especially considering the current status quo political context is obvious. It also goes without saying that bigotry against "rich people" is unlikely to result to great harm considering where most live, access to security forces, ease of obtaining visas even if Muslim. This is not the position of less financially privileged Muslims immigrants in the USA. To most of them Trump-style rhetoric can make the difference between owning a store or having it burned down by right wing fanatics. "Sanders" type of bigoted rhetoric is simply not as potentially harmful as Trump's campaign messages.

Apart from this has Sanders' rhetoric been as "bigoted" to begin with? How about his character? Here is Sanders supporting views of Warren Buffet (who btw supported Hillary Clinton, being full aware of the impact money has in politics, along with how easy it is to buy political representation from status quo politicians like Hillary). And here's Sanders engaging with Bill Gates on education. Does Sanders seem like a bigot? Can anyone imagine Trump talking in such a manner with people who'd he view as "immigrants", especially poor ones? Even if the Sanders campaign did contain some rhetorical bigotry (although the Fyfe paper is not a sociological analysis of this; he doesn't go into much detail about the Sanders' campaign) there seems to be a clear difference between his "otherizing" and Trump's even in volume itself, not merely moral badness due to the differences between targets (millionaires and immigrants). Sanders could be more specific with his statements but there seems to be a clear difference here. It's easy to interpret Sanders, for example, not taking in donations my billionaires as "bigoted" as well -- but the reason he did so was to show he does not agree with big money buying political representation. And against this backdrop how many wealth people do you know who are for "giving democracy back to common people"?

A strong case can be made that both Elon Musk and Warren Buffet supported Hillary just for these reasons. They know that their wealth will buy them what they seek. And even if Fyfe notes that "it may be better for Musk to have more wealth than the power being under the hands of some senator" looking at the bigger picture there is a massive threat to democracy here. Is the solution letting the "right" people corrupt democracy further simply because they may do good through such means? Shouldn't democratizing America be part of such a "good" or is it only about initiatives about building automated cars and space X projects?

The main premise of Sanders has been eliminating the impact of money in politics. It's not about taking away representation from rich people. Even if some rhetoric may indeed be bigoted, the focus here is treating people equally, something that simply is not the case as things stand. It cannot be that some have the potential of controlling political representation through legalized bribery. In fact, Sanders nearly beat Clinton even considering the DNC having a clear dog in this fight in favour of billionaire money coming in.

It is important to keep all this in mind while aiming to improve upon Sanders. This is not simply a leftist version of Trump. And in the ways that he is similar to Trump, at least some them, this is not by definition a bad thing. Trump addressed people's concerns even if hypocritically so. Hillary on the other hand was too busy giving talks to Goldman Sachs. Characteristically her last youtube add before the voting process was a part naked James Franco rooting for her. Trump's add was about "bringing jobs back". And Sanders would talk policy, policy, policy, refusing to be sidetracked -- whether "bigoted" or not, differentiating him from both the empty populism or Trump and the open hypocrisy of Hillary.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Merkel "consumate" politicians are part of the problem

I just finished reading a long, impassioned Greek article defending Angela Merkel over criticism. According to the writer Merkel is the ideal politician: she's the hardest worker around, stays up day and night, is aware of intricate details of policy of different European countries, has a PHD in chemistry, was into politics since the fall of Berlin... The peace leads to the conclusion that we should be glad to have her lead Europe at this point in time. Not doing so, as Europeans, means being "ungrateful" of what is being offered to us: progress, well roasted, seasoned, served on the most "official", legalistic plate politics can produce.

Now I am not out to wholly discredit Angela Merkel. This not possible, on one hand, and such intent would be unfair to begin with. However -- and that is a big "however" -- I can not fail but notice the rhetorical focus running along the peace, an "apolitical" aura similar to some I've experienced living in communist Vietnam. Instead of viewing the politician as "someone who questions ideology and comes up with their own policy, focusing on democratic representation" the focus is on "getting things done". Therefore it is not surprising that the article goes into a lot of "personal" talk about her, how she overcame one obstacle or another (similar talk is made about Schauble surviving the known terrorist attack), how she didn't accept compromise in her life, along with vague talk about how greatly valuable her work is "for Europe".

Bear in mind that the context of this is current EU crisis and most prolifically treatment of Greece, where banks are kept open in exchange of public sector cuts, taxes on the poor, ect, ect. And the attitude is mostly of personalizing criticisms as if the writer seeks to avoid addressing systemic issues. In doing so the "proper politician of 2017" is one who executes pre-baked, pre-existing, pre-managed agendas. Who sets this agenda? We do not know -- it does not matter. What matters is that it must be executed. Those on the forefront of such "progress" are to then be praised for their work ethics that others, especially others who do not aim to further said agenda supposedly lack.

This to me is highly symbolic of a steady shift from a democracy of representation to a democracy where appearances of participation are there, more and more, just as long as they mean we are unable to guide policies ourselves as citizens. This isn't what democracy used to stand for in its direct form. Athens is, ironically, the birthplace of democracy, a place where the very notion of citizenship was tied to meaningful participation. People would raise their hands to support one policy over another. This was rendered close to impossible when geographies and governments expanded, of course, and "republican democracy" was invented, a form of democracy based on elected representatives making decisions on part of others.

This is not a system without fault, of course. But this isn't the issue here either. The issue is when voting for different parties tends to result to the same policies superficial differences none withstanding. Even Syryza, a party with intellectuals, was eventually brought down to support similar policies to New Democracy, a "status quo" party favoured by EU powers, eve if it was largely responsible for the crisis. Characteristically Varoufakis even revealed that, in a Eurogroup meeting, Germany's finance minister was furious about Yannis implying that local election can change economic policy of EU member states. According to Dr Schauble's ideology economic policy democracy seems to end when there's risk or meaningful change in economic direction. And as Eurogroup meetings are a bit like a Star Wars council among Jedis -- not exactly transparent, reachable for the average European -- it's easy to sell propaganda about the "radical Syriza party" that "refused to cooperate with civilized EU leaders".

And with this there is need to rethink what it means to be a politician both in local EU governments and when it comes to European structures themselves. It cannot be that simply the mere existence of intellectual debate when it comes to economic policy is greeted by contempt and mockery, almost as if status quo view of "reality" is threatened. And with this in mind the consummate, Merkel type of politicians need to step aside as well, simply because the time has come for us to question politics once again rather than simply seek "professionals" to get technocratic jobs done. We need people who ask the big questions of the role of the state should be, who engage is debate about what a moral response to capitalist radicalism is, who are not nothing but "Fukyamaists" when it comes to neoliberal policies 24/7 with the inclusion of minority rights -- a neoliberalism with a "human face".

Friday, May 26, 2017

Mother Russia to blame for everything; Hillary the answer

It sounds like an "Onion" piece title. And yet it's pretty much the attitude of many democrats and progressives. You should watch the recent Cornel West vs Bill Maher "discussion" where Maher looses his temper about "people not having learned anything" from the previous election. He's referring to why democrats lost. According to Maher Hillary would have been much better than Trump, so much better, on all issues, full-stop. If only we would have known this earlier we wouldn't now face the Trump disaster. At the same Maher is one of the main media characters pushing for the narrative that Russia meddled with USA elections.

Evidence given of Russia's "meddling"? Well, not too much. Notice how people, Marr included. use the vague word "meddle". It partly allows for the listeners to project what they want to the word. Does it mean that Russia faked votes? Does it mean they pushed for propaganda? Well, by using a filmy word in the particular context these democrats are able to lead from one meaning to the other, depending on what "evidence" is shown to be false. For Bill Maher himself it's enough that "all the American intelligence agencies say that Russia meddled with elections". This hasn't been his stance on a number of issues, say under Bush, but nonetheless.

Now to Hillary's Trump superiority: is it true that she'd be better than Trump? Yes. Much better, "so much better" on all issues? For one supports Trump for some of his worse foreign policy including the Syria bombing on Assad forces. This is not surprising to anyone who is aware what she supports to begin with. And secondly how about economic policy, Wall Street? Of course she may have been "less bad" than Trump. However when we look at the bigger picture Hillary beat Trump by far when it came to billionaire support. This doesn't by definition mean she'd also simply favour rich people but is indicative of Hillary having been part of the political and economic system for a long time.

So would she change "how Washington works"? Would she offer something more than a bandage to people suffering? Characteristically a study by the Wesleyan Media Project found that Hillary ads attacked Trump on his character 90% of the time containing policy talk only 10% of the time. This is unprecedented but points to her lack of vision even if only one of marketing. Then we have tapes leaked where she's patronizing "unemployed millennials living in their parents' basements, who do not understand how the system works and want free collage". And how did she go after Wall Street criminal's whose business models ruined the elections?  Here's her own words, have a laugh.

All this considered it would be a stretch too far that Hillary would fight to "change the system". It does not work anymore to be the "lesser of two evils" either. You have to differentiate yourself by being a moral entity and defining yourself not only in contrast to a clown like Turmp but in regards to what you stand for directly as well. Yes, we get it, Trump is crazy, but what is your view of the world? Do you have any real view of the world other than status quo politics coupled with "throwing the dog a bone"?

This does not mean that Hillary is not "better" of course. However when the rhetoric and framing presents her as a credible candidate way above Trump this degenerates just what it means to be a politician who represents people. It lessens the value of what people really want, what they've been trying to reach out to for years now, as well as the reality of their struggle. It is on this platform Hillary does not provide solutions. Heck -- not even her professional analysts where able to come up with even a phony, a fake marketing strategy that aimed to show her as a "people's person" -- this while Trump was riding a populist train that, unsurprisingly, worked wonders, even for Mr "tiny hands."

Therefore it's no wonder that her highlighting the role of Russia in her loosing the elections is misguided at best, comedic if simply charitable. I argue this while not even saying that there is no possible connection between Trump officials to "Russia" (also notice the lack of clarity there, as if Russia is just "one thing"). There is reason to think there have been some such connections. However this is a very different line of attack than saying Russia "meddled" with US elections and presenting this as an important cause leading to Trump winning the elections. Besides this: how about leaked audio of Hillary talking about rigging a Palestinian election? How about her role in bringing down democracy in Honduras?

One would think that if the focus of this type of "leftists" is a principled stance against one government meddling with another's democratic elections the dominant narrative would have been one of consistency. Hillary would not have been presented, now or beforehand, as credible candidate against Trump. This could have likely led to Trump being beaten in the first place. Most importantly in regards to moving on the focus wouldn't be on Hillary type of politicians. Bernie Sanders is still here. Jill Stein is still there. And there's a growing movement called "justice democrats" who seek to create a morally consistent, representative democrat party. When the focus of democrats is an almost imaginary threat they sound closer and closer to right wing neo-cons than any leftist worth admiring.

And there have been a few.

Cornel West and others may not have "learned their lesson". I am glad.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Islam is neither a religion of peace or war

I am writing this as facebook is bustling with "Islam, the religion of peace, strikes again" posts. There was just another terrorist attack. This time someone and his bomb exploded in Manchester at an Ariana Grande concert leaving behind 20+ dead. And almost automatically others have been defending Islam while insults are thrown back and forth. The anti-islam group is labeled as "racist" while the pro-islam defenders are "regressive liberals who do not understand the realities of the world". This seems to have become a social media tradition in the West post terrorist attacks, and considering how they wont end here, there's value in analyzing this further.

I'll be direct and clear: both these camps seem off when it comes to the matter. Yes, Islam is not a religion of peace. I know, some of you reading may automatically jump to conclusions about me being "racist" as well for saying so! But I do not claim that Islam is a religion of war either. It is in fact a bizarre point we've reached when the debate is so focused on whether the religion itself promotes peace or war.

For this evaluation do you measure how many Muslims do bad things compared to those who do good? How does the algorithm work in terms of evaluating how good and how bad certain acts are and how they connect to numbers of people? Or is this about Islamic institutions and their official proclamations? No? And how about different factions of Islam? Or is it about scripture? It seems so, at least for the most part -- those against Islam often separate "ideology" from "people" in an effort not to come off as bigoted. Then they point to scripture that is morally reprehensible. On the opposing hand people use scripture to show that the religion is, in fact, one of peace. Scripture seems to be the most common barometer here.

Ok. But the problem here for both camps is that Islamic scripture is self contradictory. It's very difficult, if possible, to find verses that do not contradict each other. This complicates deducing moral oughts from scripture. If we were to critically analyze such religious texts from the perspective of a moral philosopher they would fail miserably. It wouldn't be that their logic is flawed, but that mostly any articulation of a prescriptive morality falls short when self-contradictions are around, behind, over and under each corner. This is a difficulty that has believers project their own morality on scripture itself. They interpret some of it metaphorically, dismiss verses as "not of God", adopt others in an effort to deal with such obvious contradictions. That's ok -- but it does not deal with the "deductive reasoning" issue at hand.

It is in this sense that it is misguided to say that Islam either a "religion of peace" or a "religion of war". Both are curious statements to make, and if based on the above type of evaluation, seem to speak more of bias than much else. One side is biased against Islam and the other for it. This isn't to say that no evaluations are at all possible, but they should be particular: what are we talking about? Too much vagueness points to the biases being at work instead of a rational consideration. This is not all that surprising considering how strong both political forces of propaganda tend to be around such issues. It's also not surprising considering what the very format of these religions -- something defining about the faiths -- is like.

And this is ok, people. It's ok if Islam is not a religion of peace. Christianity isn't either. This is not because they are "neutral" and shouldn't either be blamed of praised. We are talking about religion, not individuals. If anything a deeper understanding of how religion works can prove helpful in this fuzzy, foggy debate about how to call an entire religion.


Where is the left when it comes to Trump supporters?

As more leaks about Trump-Russia connections come to the fore "liberal" supporters take to facebook, twitter and elsewhere to mock Trump supporters. "How could they possibly have believed this man's campaign promises! Look whom you voted for! Absurd!". Having voted for Trump pretty much means one is dump. It was a big fat lie that this man -- this orange menace of a man -- would support the poor and middle classes and somehow work against the system, against the tenants of neoliberalism, for genuine change. But were Obama supporters that different? And how should the left approach Trump voters?

While it is true that Trump represents no such change -- if anything, change for the worse -- there is often a bizarre feel about such responses. In a particular sense they harken back to times when leftist parties were political beacons for segregation itself. It's as if an essence of the left, at least an essence that traditionally belonged to the left and is morally meaningful is lost within dominant rhetoric of this nature. When large chunks of the population are mocked as well as their needs cynically dismissed there is reason to think something cockroach-y is going on. Obviously this is more about politicians than people themselves, but it's not like on the political domain Hillary's "basket of deplorables" characterisation target a different end.

So first off: how about Obama supporters? Obama run on change. He promised to "change the way Washington works". He then got re-elected under much the same premise. We had 8 years of his presidency. His legacy? It's not as black and white as some may suggest... But part of it was extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich, pumping up drones strikes to 90%+ civilian death rates and 7 countries, as well as essentially photocopying a Republican plan for healthcare and presenting it as "radical change".

He could in fact have been impeached on the basis of going to war unconstitutionally if it weren't for the neo-con establishment. Bush did seek congressional approval for this militaristic escapade, which as he claimed, was commanded by God. Obama simply loosely connected following bombings to the original approval as part of the "war against terror". He was also the president who willingly signed for the infinite detention of American citizens; per some accounts, even insisted on the particular provision. Add to this "forgetting about the past" when it comes to unraveling the work of torturers. As Obama himself state, much to the cheers and silence of many, this admin would "leave the past behind". This essentially means protecting torturers and their commanders from prosecution. Oh but other than -- totally against torture, Obama was, most definitely.

Ironically enough I was writing up my dissertation against torture back then. It's not like our department in Yorkshire was full of dissenting liberals against Obama's actions. If anything quite a few were vocals about how bizarre it was that I will focus on torture with Obama as president of the USA. We were only expected to do that under George Bush or some other Republican.

So both Obama's presidency and the response of many "progressives" somewhat changes my approach to "Trumpers". It's not like a liberal side wasn't largely fooled under 8 years of Obama. Also none of this is to say that this the two sides are perfectly analogous and no Trump supporters are indeed racist. One of the underlying messages of the Trump campaign is of strong racial element. However, somehow -- just somehow -- he did better with blacks and Hispanics than even Romney in 2012 whose campaign lacked racial undertones of a Trump magnitude. That's one thing. Another is that even if many white people were mobilized under Trump we cannot generalize about them as all being the same. The political reality is more nuanced: Trump did not simply run on the premise of building walls and kicking illegal "aliens" out.

There was also strong rhetoric about cutting of wars abroad, concentrating financial power to different causes, rebuilding America, bringing jobs back. This was coupled by a democrat side that had little to offer as meaningful contrast. Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein were exceptions. Where as Trump would say "Make America great again", allowing for the reader to project his own intentions on the slogan, Hillary would talk about "America already being great"... This while student debt crushes people and she's caught on tape patronizing the heck out of "unemployed millennials who "do not know how politics works and live in their parents basements". Or she would push for the slogan "I'm with her", implying that it's somehow the job of citizens to support her, not her winning over their support with policy proposals. Trump would predictably come out and say "I am with you". This was not simply about either race or gender.

But even if racism was, say, a massive cause leading to Trump's win... It does not follow from this that people are just "magically" racist on their own. It also doesn't follow that the response of the left should be to play the didgeridoo and fly off to the horizon on a high neoliberal, globalist horse. There are external factors to why people become racist, and quite often they are driven by right wing politicians to adopt such beliefs. Do people think that if Obama had indeed fought vocally, publically, assertively to "change the way Washington works" Trump would have been able to capitalize on bigotry to win the presidency in this manner, for example? Bill Clinton put neoliberalism on the fast lane. Hillary's policies were similar. And after all these years the democrats -- a leftist party, at least "on paper" -- eventually lost its connection to common people. Even in terms of reaching minorities the clear pick of the democrat party, Hillary Clinton, failed spectacularly. Going on radio shows and attempting to pander to black people by saying that you carry hot sauce in your bag is not, one would think, the way to reach black people.

What should instead be the response of the left here?

It starts to become clear. First politicians: recognize your own contribution to people flocking to right wing politicians like Trump. You were part of this. Don't act like the parent who arrived home a day after their son's party and found police cars and shambles: you engineered much of this yourselves. And when it comes to people, especially who were and later became Obama supporters: I partly understand your frustration when it comes people having voted for Trump. I understand it much more if when it comes to those that still support him. However remember that the position of many of you wasn't that all that radically different under the previous admin. As you were cheering for Obama he'd throw a few painkillers and bones to the public, bombs elsewhere, singing for things not even Bush would imagine doing so. It's not like there was this massive liberal, progressive wall against Obama when he'd act in this manner. In fact, it's not absurd to think that many of his moves would have been greeted with fiery opposition and disgusted had he been a Republican.

So we can back off, perhaps, some cynicism, mockery and generalizations and instead see what can be done for genuine change. If the left -- politicians and voters included -- can realize the power of political representation, even for many of those who can now easily be dismissed, there is hope. If not we should probably get ready for another 4 years of Trump.

Unless he gets impeached, of course. But that's not the issue. There's always someone worse, waiting to capitalize on the failings of the current system.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Why celebrate Macron?

It's only been a few days after the French election. Just like others I have been closely following news, albeit with no fear that Le Pen will win. Predictable celebrations soon begun as the bad, bad racist, xenophobic Nazi sympathizers were defeated. Globalization won -- as if it's that is by definition a good thing -- and now daily life could continue as normal.

But none of this means that "business as usual" is a safe haven.

It is no secret that neoliberal policies of austerity and corporate rule are great contributors to the right of right wing fascism. We've seen this in Greece. Neo liberal rescue package after neoliberal rescue package have made survival a luxury for quite a few. They have also given space to neo-Nazi groups -- namely Golden dawn -- as well as other right wing authoritarian groups such as the Independent Greeks. Somehow "being rescued" seems to hurt curiously much.

And yet this is what Macron largely represents. In a sense, he is partly like a French Obama -- while white, he brings some breath of fresh air to French politics in terms of appearances. He is young, hip, he believes in global warming; and he makes supposedly inspirational statements about feminism. But on the other hand he endorses much of the same policies that gave rise to Le Pen to begin with. He may well be better than some, as Varoufakis himself believes, but the wider picture is not radically different.

It is also often the case that you cannot dispose of a real monster by defeating it directly. Le Pen lost a fight, not the war. And even if she herself lost the war there will be plenty t replace her, even to the right of her ideological cluster of ethnocentrism and fear of the other. As is the case in so many video games, you need to look for the nest, get to the core. Where is the core?

Is it French voters who support Le Pen and other similar politicians? Is it people who have been sold the idea that Le Pen is the answer to their problems... when they've seen their lives, year after year, being sold to big banks, their future smashed under the cheap justification of trickle down economics.. is it these people who create the nest, the beast's lair?

Or is it financial institutions, big money buying political representation away from citizens themselves? Is it the feeling that you are no longer represented, no matter whom you vote for? For even if Macron won by a landslide record numbers of French citizens voted "blank". And I do not think all of them are racists focusing on kicking brown people out of France.

So I do not celebrate Macron's win. I do not do so because I know that the systemic causes leading to monsters are still here. It is not unlikely that in a few years Le Pen -- or someone similar, if not worse -- wins. Then, just like in Greece, desperation will have grown as will fascist movements.. to the point where containing them may be too late.

All this said: does it follow that I think Le Pen is better than Macron? Obviously not. When faced with neoliberalism vs xenophobia the answer seems clear. Besides, it's not like there's a guarantee that Le Pen wouldn't promote rather similar economic policies. There is reason to think the opposite, if anything, as has been the case with Trump.

So this is not a case in favour of Le Pen.

I am simply against superficial leftism that spooky individuals as the source of problems and congratulates itself way too early. Celebrate, I will, when the essence of democracy is born again, on our streets, in our cities, villages, engaging young people once more, handing to them their own lives, their own states, their own future.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Yes, the "Muslim ban" is wrong

Although it feels like years.. we are now a few months in Trump's presidency. Him and Pence are still more popular than the democrat party even though one questionable policy move after another.

Other than filling his admin with Golden Sachs insiders -- a curious move for someone supposedly representing those oppressed by neo-liberal economic policy --Trump also proceeded with two "Muslim ban" executive orders. Neither sought to ban entry to the USA to "all Muslims". His advisors knew campaign plans would have been unconstitutional and likely grounds for impeachment. Consequently Trump had to tone down campaign promises and instead seek to ban people as based on citizenship, finally targeting particular countries labeled by the Obama admin as "danger zones".

Nevertheless both the original and revised versions were eventually struck down by judges. Trump, rather predictably, quickly took to twitter to express callow, incoherent, Orangutany blurps of frustration. Many progressives were celebrating this as a victory. But I find this premature when you look at the bigger picture, that this presidency could last more than some predicted as based on Trump's general incompetence and lack of understanding of how the government works. Simply consider the likelihood that within 4 years of Trump rule there is a Muslim terrorist attack within the USA. It's rather high. In fact, taking into account recent years as well as growing terrorism generated in part by more and more vicious Western foreign policy it is almost certain that under the Trump presidency there will be Islamic terrorist attacks.

This eventually puts Trump and his admin into a rather privileged position of leverage. Imagine him giving a speech right after such a terrorist strike, naming judges who struck down his bans, assigning responsibility to them as "terrorism enablers", blaming them for being "undemocratic" and "not obeying the will of the people"... as well as calling for citizens to mobilise themselves behind him as he has another go at banning Muslims from entering the USA. Add in the improbability that Trump builds any "great wall" around and over America -- something he will be mocked for -- and it's by no means unthinkable his admin hits high gear to get a so-called "Muslim ban" through. We should not underestimate the reactionary nature of power-hungry figures with fragile egos, tiny hands and an almost complete lack of concern for truth.

This brings me to discussing the ethics of the "Muslim" ban. I consider this valuable as the issue will likely be relevant for the whole duration of this presidency. It hasn't in fact been Trump's proposals that concern me as much but the public response where many seem not to understand why banning people as based on religion is not only impractical.. but a big, fat, morally reprehensible mistake. Now of course Trump's future executive orders may not be directly tied to religion, yes; but this is definitely the underlying theme here. The issue for him has been about how to ban Muslims without quite making it an official "Muslim" ban. Understanding just why it's fishy to ban Muslims and hence also try "going around" constitutional matters while doing much of the same (well, apart from rich Saudi Arabian Muslims -- there will probably be a classist element to this as well) is elemental.

Now the justification of why it's "okay" to ban people as based on religion usually centers around avoiding the worse consequences, the greatest harm. "It is unfortunate to ban Muslims" a Greek journalist friend said. "The percentage of Muslim terrorists within the wider Muslim population is definitely low. However long with the thousands entering the country there will be a few terrorist who slip though vetting. This number, however small, is enough to commit horrific damage, leaving tens, perhaps hundreds of bloodied-up bodies on the streets, in night clubs, under the remains of wrecked buildings. This is not a risk civilized societies can take. There are limits to being politically correct".

I am not sure about this. Why?

Discrimination involves an act or policy disadvantaging someone due to them being a member of  group A, B, C by sharing characteristic A, B, C. A black person is guilty of being black; a Chinese person of being Chinese; a Greek of being Greek. Expressions of such bigotry rarely take such direct format, of course, as the person who says that black people are thieves may consider his "observation" as the reason for his hatred and disavowal. However his false generalization is based on the people sharing the characteristic of black skin color. Things get more complex as we delve into different kinds of discrimination, but as interesting as this is just consider a hypothetical where a few details in this Muslim predicament are modified.

Is it wrong to ban men from entering a country as based on their gender? How about you, yourself, the reader..  banned due to being male? If a woman, how about your father, brother, boyfriend?

This is relevant as the vast majority of terrorist attacks are committed by men. Religion is a fairly insignificant barometer in comparison to gender. Yet nowhere are the immigration plans hoping to "keep men out until we figure out what's going on". Just imagine such a TV ad. It could only be interpreted as joke, a bad joke, and good luck to any politician putting forth the argument that "even though few men are terrorists possible attacks justify a discriminative ban of all men". Only in the most radical of feminist circles would that go by as a respectable claim to make.

And yet...

Yet here we are, rather willing to accept arguments "for security" when the to-be victims of bigotry are Muslims. Then somehow it needs to be made clear just why bigotry is wrong, as if it's not self-explanatory enough, self-defining in terms of its moral badness. We are also ready to adopt supposedly "pragmatic and realistic" policies instead of those promoted by supposedly "foolish liberals" who, even though well intentioned, simply cannot understand the complexities of the real world. Considering this framing you would think those in favour of such bans would have a rather nuanced understanding of these "complexities" reality presents us with.

So the question also needs to be asked: just what does it mean to ban Muslims as based on religion, in the "real word"? Of course Islam is not just "one thing". There is diversity within the religion. There is even diversity among people attending a particular Christian church in the West, let alone giant schisms between Shia and Sunni Muslims, variations between the two camps themselves, feminist Islamic movements, Muslims for secularism, atheists who identify as "cultural Muslims", among others... A prospective ban takes all these people and squeezes out any differentiating nuances. It makes a radical of the moderate and a moderate of the radical; it conflates the victims of Islamic terror even though it's most often Muslims themselves who are victims of such attacks. In turn the charitable lives of good Muslims are linked the shameful, violent projections of terrorists.

It does not take much for one to picture considerably counter-productive consequences when it comes to "fighting radical Islam" in this manner. The message sent is that we group all Muslims in just the same basket. ISIS in turn can bank on this, incorporate it into their propaganda and proceed with even more effective radicalization of who could have otherwise been moderates. Characteristically, ISIS leaders, upon hearing about "Muslim" bans rejoiced seeing how an Al Qaeda leaders' prediction of "the West turning on its own Muslim citizens" was coming true.

Just what are we to say to the kid whose Muslim parents were slaughtered by ISIS, not having the possibility to escape, not even having the chance for a free life? Is there strong reason to think such bands result to less terrorist attacks to begin with, especially on global level and within Muslim countries themselves? And where are the practical considerations of "realists" there? And more interestingly... where is their sense of consistency in regards to absurd consequences following their own logic?