AT RANDOM: We can’t be silent

All of us have a duty to speak out when basic human rights are threatened.

Richard Rolke is the senior news reporter at The Morning Star.

Richard Rolke is the senior news reporter at The Morning Star.

Last Friday, President Donald Trump inked two executive orders one that prevents refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days while the other keeps individuals from seven nations out for three months.

Protests immediately erupted as did legal challenges. Confusion reigned at airports across the U.S. and around the globe.

Of course many people speaking out against Trump didn’t want him as president to start with so those in his camp are describing the protesters’ actions as self-serving and, to some extent, that’s likely the case. However, the perception that so-called bleeding heart liberals don’t understand what Trump has done or are naive about the threats of the world should be challenged.

Some point out that Trump hasn’t initiated a ban against Muslims because the executive order doesn’t mention a specific religion. But let’s call a spade a spade all seven nations identified are predominantly Muslim.

Trump has stated that the restrictions on entry into the U.S. are necessary for “extreme vetting.” Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with ensuring security measures are in place to stop potential acts of terrorism. But wouldn’t it make more sense to scrutinize those individuals believed to be radicalized instead of tarring entire nationalities with the same brush? There are lots of good people from Iran, Iraq, Syria and the other places. They don’t all have bombs strapped to their chests.

Some on Facebook have accused liberals and the media of having short-term memory because Barack Obama did exactly the same thing as Trump in 2011. However, the Chicago Tribune states that what Obama actually did was stop processing Iraq refugees for six months because two refugees had targeted U.S. troops with roadside bombs in Iraq. The situations can’t be compared.

Others keep wondering why Canadians are interfering in an internal American matter. But the reality is that Trump’s policies could impact Canadians originally from those seven nations wanting to travel to the U.S. Also, and most importantly, human rights know no borders or political ideologies. All of us have a duty to speak out when basic human rights are threatened. And before you think I’m on an anti-American tirade, I would expect the world to keep Canada honest when it comes to human rights, whether it’s our poor relationship with First Nations or the preoccupation of some elected officials with what women wear or Canadian values, whatever those are.

Over the weekend, the words of Martin Niemoller came to mind, and particularly after six people were killed at a Quebec mosque Sunday.

A Lutheran pastor, Niemoller openly challenged Germany’s government in the 1930s. He is best known for the following poem:

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist.

“Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

“Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Now I am not linking what’s going on in the U.S. with Nazi Germany but it’s always important for us to remain vigilant with our civil liberties. We can’t take anything for granted.