Sixteen years ago, our country experienced one of the deadliest terrorist attacks on our soil, and 2,996 people were killed on that day. Americans’ immediate responses to the attacks were ones of courage and heroism, and the images of first responders rushing into the burning towers will forever be imprinted in our minds. Many of those first responders are still suffering from horrible illnesses as a result of exposure to toxic fumes and debris on that day, and over 850 first responders have died from those illnesses. (Read some of their stories here.)
Unfortunately, some of our country had a different response—one of xenophobia and racism—that continues to this day. Anti-Muslim sentiment sharply increased after 9/11, and hate crimes against Muslims are “five times more common today than before 9/11.” The Trump administration has acted on those fears and acts of hatred by enacting anti-Muslim policies. On the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump demanded “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” He followed up these words with action, when he enacted the Muslim and refugee ban earlier this year. Parts of the ban have been struck down by federal courts, but the Trump administration announced today that it was taking its ban back to the Supreme Court to continue the fight. Whether or not the ban is ever fully enacted again, the sentiment behind the ban remains clear: Muslims are not welcome here. This pervasive rhetoric runs directly counter to the ideals on which our country was founded.
These types of policies aren’t new. Under President George W. Bush, the government carried out torture on terrorist suspects, and individuals are still attempting to hold the CIA accountable for these “techniques.” But Trump has taken another step backwards regarding the issue of torture. He appointed Gina Haspel to the Deputy Director position of the CIA. The problem? Haspel reportedly “oversaw the torture of two terrorism suspects and later took part in an order to destroy videotapes documenting interrogations at a secret prison in Thailand.”
The continuation of the policies of Bush—and increased anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric—does not make our country safer; in fact, it makes our country much weaker. Professor Byman of Georgetown University notes that Trump’s rhetoric “angers allies, worsens domestic tensions, and otherwise makes a bad situation worse. To me it signals that he will pursue whatever policies were on his mind before an attack occurs without considering the new events and information.” Even the Department of Homeland Security found that Trump’s Muslim and refugee ban targeted countries that did not pose terrorist threats to the U.S. On the anniversary of 9/11, we must take the opportunity to unite as one nation, rather than alienating so many of our immigrant friends, neighbors, and coworkers who help make the U.S. what it is today.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#QuitTheCommission. Tomorrow, Trump’s Voter Integrity Commission in meeting in New Hampshire. This commission’s entire premise is based on a myth perpetuated by Trump himself — voter fraud—and it is likely that voter suppression techniques will be recommended by this group. John Lott, one of the presenters at the meeting tomorrow, is even suggesting background checks for voting.
Let’s make it clear to the commission’s members: Remaining on the commission is an endorsement of Trump’s lies about voter fraud and his campaign to suppress votes, especially from people of color. Contact the members of the commission TODAY by using our handy toolkit.
Monuments. Today, Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade compared the 9/11 memorial in New York City to confederate statues around the country. He asked Interior Secretary Zinke, “Do you worry 100 years from now someone’s gonna try to take that memorial down like they’re trying to remake our memorials today?” This comparison ignores who the memorials honor and what they stand for. While the 9/11 memorial remembers those individuals and first responders that lost their lives in the horrific attacks, confederate statues pay homage to traitors who fought for slavery to remain the law of the land. Also, ironically, Zinke’s apparent love of monuments clearly doesn’t extend to national monuments, such as Bears Ears, which he recommended shrinking after conducting a sham review.
Hurricanes Spur Climate Change Talk. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted last week to fund the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, thanks to an amendment by Senator Merkley. Funding for climate change initiatives are more important than ever, as we witness the devastating impacts of climate change occurring all around the world and in our own country, in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico. These funding levels are not matched by the House’s version of the bill, so the final outcome has yet to be decided. While this is a step in the right direction, it will not make up for the administration’s damaging decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement and its continued refusal to take climate change seriously.
Another Attack on ACA. The latest attack on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may not be referred to as Trumpcare, but don’t overlook it. The Graham-Cassidy bill is just another attempt to “repeal and replace” the ACA with bad policy. The bill would cut the amount of money from the federal government to the states, forcing Medicaid into block grants. More strikingly, it would punish states that expanded access under the ACA, “literally tak[ing] money from states that expanded Medicaid and giv[ing] it to states that did not.” For more information, check out the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ explainer here.
UNDER THE RADAR
In the Courts. One of the most overlooked places where Trump holds an immense amount of power is in the courts. With over 100 judicial vacancies to fill, Trump has the power to “fill up federal courts with lifetime judges.” Last week, he announced the latest wave of U.S. attorney nominations. Of the 42 he’s nominated thus far, 41 of them are men. With the majority of his appointments recommended by the right-wing Federalist Society, it’s clear that much is at stake in court rooms across the country.