The First Amendment of the US Constitution is something you’d think every American could get behind. I think one of the best parts of the US is how vastly different our citizens are. We come from all walks of life, from a plethora of cultures – and have differing ideas. Sounds like a dream, but this obviously causes some complications.
According to Cornell University’s Law School, the First Amendment “guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices.”
Nothing too complicated. Everyone has freedom to practice their religion, no one religion is favored over another, and so on and so forth. However, you don’t need to have a PhD in political science to realize that the US has a history of favoring Christianity. After all, whether to teach evolution or creationism is a debate that plagues public schools to this day. Gay marriage, abortion and alcohol have also been illegal in US history, Christian values all having a hand in the matter.
I’m the first to admit that you can’t blame all of these biased laws solely on favoring Christianity, but it’s clear that US laws have been biased nonetheless. When our founding fathers established the country, freedom of religion was a top priority. I have to imagine they’d be disappointed to see our track record.
All the more so considering that president-elect Donald Trump is trying to blatantly discriminate against the nation’s third most practiced religion: Islam. Here’s a tip, Donny: you’re only making matters worse. Trump has some plans that practice a horrific amount of xenophobia, but this is nothing new. In fact, our 43rd president, George W. Bush, did exactly the same thing and no one seemed to know.
Head over to the next page to see how similar the two Republican presidents’ plans are. Donald Trump’s proposed Muslim registry is eerily similar to something George W. Bush did during his administration. Bush established the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERS, in 2002. Here’s how it worked: non-citizens had to register when they entered the US, including fingerprinting, photo taking and interrogation. Then the program mandated that these people, as well as others already in the US, register and regularly check in with immigration officials. Last but not least, it kept track of those leaving the country to make sure that temporary guests did not remain illegally. If you violated this protocol, you were arrested.
But here’s where it get’s xenophobic, sexist, and all around discriminatory. NSEERS affected males 16-25 from 25 countries that were marked as a threat. Though this system said nothing about religion, all but one of the countries had a heavy Muslim majority. Since this followed the 9/11 attacks, this system was met with a lot of support. However, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said this process needlessly punished immigrants: “Families were torn apart, small businesses in immigrant neighborhoods closed their doors, and students discarded their educational aspirations.”
Instead of supporting the American Islam community, the government only played into scare tactics, turning citizens against Muslims. CNN reported: “By 2011, nearly a decade after the program was enacted, NSEERS had not resulted in a single terrorism conviction.” Clearly serving no good purpose, Obama stripped the 25 countries of their torment, but left some of the precautionary measures intact.
In the typical teeter totter of Democratic and Republican politics, Trump’s plans are going to mirror Bush’s plans quite significantly. Scare tactics against Muslims were a driving force in his campaign, including enlisting a “temporary ban” and a process of “extreme vetting” of Muslims. He also wanted to make all Muslims living in the US register with a national database. This is a clear violation of the First Amendment, so how does he get around it? He rips a page right out of Bush’s playbook.