by Brandon Biagini
19 December 2017
Fire fighters carrying water hose through rubble on September 11th following terrorist attack on World Trade Center, New York City. Sept. 11, 2001. Image. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.
The 20th Century tested the strength of democracy and freedom in the West. Allied troops liberated Europe from the fists of fascism and tore down the walls that separated the communist east from the free west.
The 21st Century started with another test for freedom: radical Islamic terrorism.
The threat of attacks has never gone away and the looming fear of what is coming next is always in the head of those living in the United States or our European neighbors across the Atlantic.
The Trump administration has implemented a travel ban on certain countries from the Middle East and Africa, known sources of radical Islamic terror groups. The goal of this ban is to protect the lives of innocent Americans from danger of another attack on U.S. soil. Although it’s a necessary step that has needed to be taken for many years, it has been met with resistance from the left.
First signed into effect by President Trump on January 27th, 2017, it received almost immediate resistance from protesters and the lower courts, which successfully blocked its implementation. Almost a year later the Supreme Court ruled a revised version of the ban to be enacted.
During the year in which this travel ban has been battled in the courts, 11 attacks have killed and injured hundreds of people in the U.S. and Europe, including the attack that took place the day of writing this column according to a Fox News report on November 1st, 2017.
March 22nd, 2017: five people were killed and 40 injured when a terrorist drove into crowds and stabbed and officer on a bridge near Westminster in London. ISIS took responsibility for the attack, according to the same Fox News report.
May 22nd, 2017: 22 killed, including children, and 59 injured in a suicide bombing outside of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England by Salman Abedi. ISIS took responsibility for the attack, according to NBC News on March 23rd, 2017.
August 17th, 2017: A truck ran down 14 people and injures an additional 80 in a busy thoroughfare in Barcelona, Spain. Another truck attack the following day took another innocent life in Cambrils, Spain. ISIS took responsibility for the attacks, according to the New York Times on August 17th, 2017.
The list continues and it’s the same story repeated over and over.
Trump’s goal with the travel ban is to prevent members of ISIS, Al Qaeda, and similar terrorist groups that have strongholds in the countries on the list from sneaking into the country to commit acts of terror and kill Americans.
There is nothing racist or bigoted about national security as many on the left seem to believe discrimination against Muslims is the actual goal of the travel ban. The ban targets specific countries that have a strong presence of radical Islamic organizations within their borders.
African countries such as Somalia and Sudan have struggled fighting Boko Haram and other insurgent groups for many years now.
Middle Eastern countries such as Syria have been fighting ISIS since their rise to power in 2014. Yemen has been in a civil war since 2015, fighting the Islamic State and Houthi rebels. Iran has had state sponsored hatred of the United States since the 1970s.
These countries are not our allies, and terrorist groups within them pose a serious threat to North America and Europe.
How many more thousands of innocent people must lose their lives for the left to recognize the danger that our country has faced for more than a decade?
Most importantly, the left needs to understand a clear distinction: immigration to the United States — or any country for that matter — is not a right. Living in the U.S. is a privilege I am forever thankful for. However, countries do have the right to seal off their borders to protect the lives and livelihood of its people.
Unfortunately, the travel ban doesn’t go far enough. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers from the September 11th attacks were Saudi nationals according to a fact report by CNN on August 28th, 2017. Yet Saudi Arabia is nowhere on the list. Although Iraq has declared victory on the war with ISIS, they are still a hotbed for terrorist activity. Iraq is exempt from the ban. Pakistan and Afghanistan are still home to the Taliban, but Afghan and Pakistani nationals can still immigrate to the United States.
There is a greater sense of security with the travel ban in place. The open border policies of Europe have clearly failed, and thousands have been affected by the violence resulting because of them. However, there is progress to be made, as more countries should be added to the list.
The hope of everyone is that in the future, terrorism will be read about only in history books, not front page news articles. But that future is still far off, and the reality of today is that we must take measures to defend ourselves. The travel ban is a step in the right direction for protecting the American people. Coupled with military and intelligence combating the terrorists abroad, we can all look to a brighter future.
Brandon Biagini is an editor and columnist for Oswego East’s online news magazine the HOWL