I first became suspicious about President Donald Trump's executive order banning travel to the United States from seven Muslim countries when I noticed that Saudi Arabia was not on his list. Strange, I thought, since most of the 9/11 terrorists came from Saudi Arabia. Also missing were Egypt and the United Arab Emirates; also with links to terror attacks in the U.S.

According to Richard Painter and Norman Eisen of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Trump has business interests, including residential developments and golf courses, in all three countries excluded from the travel ban. Interestingly, the seven countries included in the ban do not have business ties to Trump.


Trump is demanding "extreme vetting" for refugees already subjected to a two-year extreme vetting process involving several federal agencies. The new vetting adds nothing to our national security and is a ploy to block refugees who are Muslim. Trump says he prefers Christian refugees, yet his behavior is anything but Christian. As Pope Francis stated, "It's hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help. If I say I am Christian, but do these things, I'm a hypocrite."

Trump's ban, questioned on constitutional grounds by a half-dozen federal judges so far, was not requested by intelligence agencies (responsible for risk assessments), reviewed by the State Department (responsible for vetting refugees), or coordinated with the Department of Homeland Security (responsible for airport security). Instead, the order was written by two people who have no immigration or foreign policy experience: Steve Bannon, who has a history of supporting white supremacy, and Stephen Miller, a speech writer. The results of this amateurish and uncoordinated deployment of federal policy resulted in chaos at airports throughout the world where, according to State Department officials, over 100,000 innocent people had their travel disrupted, and hundreds of others, including young children separated from their parents, were detained by U.S. custom officials.

Welcome to Trump's America, home of the scared, as we detain little children because of where they were born.

The Pentagon reports that about 6,000 Muslims are currently serving in the U.S. military. I can't imagine how these men and women must feel as their commander-in-chief disparages their faith and questions their allegiance to America because of where they or their parents were born.

Caught up in Trump's clumsy airport sweep were people from Iraq and Afghanistan who, at great risk to themselves and their families, fought beside American soldiers or acted as interpreters. Hundreds of these individuals, considered heroes by American veterans, are now having their status questioned. Trump has stated that "We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people." What else must these men and women do to show their loyalty for America beyond risking their lives to help our soldiers? Perhaps we should question Trump's love for America given his five draft deferments and his unwillingness to pay his fair share of federal taxes.

Tens of thousands of students from these seven nations attend American universities. If you want to teach American values and build bridges of understanding between nations, how better to do so than allow their young people to attend our universities, as we have for decades, and learn the benefits of democracy and a free society? Trump's ban teaches them that the negative things they heard at home from extremists about Americans must be true.

Trump's order repeats our nation's sins of World War II when we blocked thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. Interestingly, the slogan of the day then was also "America First." Most of these refugees were sent back to Germany to die in concentration camps. Included were 20,000 Jewish children placed on a ship to America by their parents, only to be rejected by the U.S. government and shipped back to Germany. Trump is doing the same today with his own "America First" slogan. Just move the target from Jews to Muslims.

Jeffrey Buchalter of Maryland is a veteran who spent two years in hospitals because of injuries suffered during multiple tours in Iraq. When he heard that an Iraqi military interpreter was being detained at Dulles airport he drove for two hours to the airport to protest and demand the interpreter's freedom. When the Iraqi interpreter was freed, thanks to attorneys from the ACLU, Buchalter presented him with one of his Purple Hearts. When asked by a reporter why he came, Buchalter stated, ""This is not what we fought for."

Tom Zirpoli writes from Westminster. He is program coordinator for the human services management graduate program at McDaniel College. His column appears Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.