IU professors analyze executive order from historical perspective



Never again.

This is the resolution that has been tagged to one of the largest human genocides, the Holocaust, in modern history. That resolution has circulated throughout the world of social media after President Trump’s executive order Friday.

Many individuals associated the measure with history repeating itself.

The order barred Syrian refugees indefinitely from entering the United States, suspended all refugee admissions for at least 120 days and blocked citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan.

“We have a moral obligation to take in refugees,” said Gunther Jikeli, IU professor on the study of contemporary anti-semitism.

Jikeli had just returned from Germany, where he helped with relief efforts of the more than 1 million refugees that settled in the country. He said he was ashamed of the refugee efforts of the U.S. compared to other countries, such as Germany and Sweden.

“There is no justice to anyone to ban refugees completely,” Jikeli said.

Mark Roseman, IU professor of history and director of the Borns Jewish studies program, said he was shocked beyond belief when he heard about the immigration ban.

He was in the United Kingdom when he heard the news and was preparing to give an annual lecture associated with Holocaust Memorial Day.

“This order is shocking on its own terms but also as a new sequence of the new presidency,” Roseman said. “By closing the door to refugees, it seems to be breaking a long-standing commitment. For the most part we always had open doors.”

Roseman expressed concern particularly when looking at the situation as producing a negative signal to the rest of the world. The U.S. is being contradictory to its own values, Roseman said.

Part of the reasoning of the block, according to the order, was to prevent radical members from entering the country.

“Everybody understands that there is a section of Islam that is drawn to radical jihad,” Roseman said. “Every Western power knows they have a problem, but no one else is treating Muslims as a wholesale threat.”

Jikeli said the analogy of Jews during World War II was not an accurate depiction of the current situation.

“Jews were killed because they were Jews,” Jikeli said. “The situation today is more complex. There is not a general persecution of Muslims.”

Jikeli said the focus should move away from the people and focus on defeating the ideology of hatred through education Jikeli said.

Roseman said this order does not necessarily give power to the white supremacy demographic, but panders 
to it.

“It gives ambiguous statements or blurry statements from the president that resonates with this type of group,” Roseman said.

Jikeli, on the other hand, said it definitely gives power to this suppressed group.

“This is the difference between the right and the far right and the populous right,” Jikeli said. “We’re seeing that in other countries in Europe that the populous parties want to ban all refugees and don’t want to look into the 
individuals.

Jikeli said the phenomenon of refugees is nothing new. People have fled countries throughout history to flee famine, war and execution.

“Even in the age of globalization, people can’t move around without fear of persecution,” Jikeli said.

Moving forward neither historian said they knew what the next step should be in relation to the executive order.

Jikeli said while he is not a politician the ban does not seem like something which would help stop Islamic 
terrorism.

He said the country needs to focus on fighting back against “jihadist propaganda” instead.

Roseman said the difficulty with the situation is the distinction of right and wrong versus going against the Trump administration.

“As soon as you say you are opposing the action, you are put in the group of anti-Trump,” Roseman said. “As soon as you say something it becomes a political statement. Something is lost, a level of dismay, in this country of immigration, of toleration, of freedom, of multiple 
ethnicities.”

Rosemand and Kijeli both said they wanted to make clear that the executive order did not represent the people.

“In history the vulgar voice was never the voice of the presidency,” Roseman said. “Now people associate this voice of what it is to be American and what it is to be 
president.”

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