Tag Archives: politics

Banning Immigration to Fight Terrorism?

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump sparked controversy this week when he argued that the United States should ban immigration by Muslims, calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Many key officials in the Republican Party—and in particular from most of Trump’s rivals for the Republican presidential nomination—were quick to jump on his comments. But Trump’s supporters widely supported his position.

While Trump asserts that the ban is necessary to protect the United States from further terrorist attacks, many security officials warned that such a ban could play in to recruiting messages by the Islamic State and others, thus undermining US national security. A statement by the Pentagon Press Secretary, Peter Cook, observed that,

There are, as I said before, there are Muslims serving patriotically in the U.S. military today, as there are people of many faiths. I’m not aware of any particular new training as a result of this. We’ll check and see if there are Muslims specifically serving in those particular areas that you mentioned. But I would just make the larger point that — that we don’t have — the United States doesn’t have any issue, and certainly the Department of Defense, anything that creates tensions and creates the notion that the United States is at odds with the Muslim faith and Islam would be counterproductive to our efforts right now, and totally contrary to our values….We have troops serving that follow the Muslim faith. And, again, without wading into politics, anything that tries to bolster, if you will, the ISIL narrative that the United States is somehow at war with Islam is contrary to our values and contrary to our national security.

What do you think? Should the United States take steps to prevent Muslims from entering the United States, as Trump suggests? Or might such moves undermine US national security, as Cook argues?

Secular Politics in Bangladesh

Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-American blogger, was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants in Dhakar yesterday. Roy was a prominent critic of the Bangladeshi government and the growing role of Islam in Bangladeshi politics. His blog, Mukto-Mona, provided a community for atheists, skeptics and humanists of Bengali and South Asian descent.

In 2013, another atheist blogger in Bangladesh, Ahmed Rajib Haider, was hacked to death in a similar attack. That attack, perpetrated by an Islamic militant group, sparked widespread protests, with thousands of Haider supporters taking to the streets to demand justice while thousands of counter protesters called for strengthening anti-blasphemy laws.

Is Netanyahu’s Visit “Destructive”?

US National Security Advisor Susan Rice yesterday described an upcoming visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “destructive.” Rice asserted that both the decision by Speaker of the House John Boehner to extend an invitation to Netanyahu, and Netanyahu’s decision to visit the United States less than two weeks ahead of his own reelection, as injected a degree of partisanship into the question that complicates ongoing negotiations between the United States and Iran and is “destructive of the fabric of the relationship” between the United States and Israel.

What do you think? Will Netanyahu’s visit undermine US-Israeli relations? Will it affect ongoing negotiations between Iran and the United States? Why?

The Politics of the Olympics

While the International Olympic Committee has long promoted its vision of the Olympic Games as an apolitical celebration of international peace and sporting competition, the games have regularly been the focal point of considerable political attention (and often tension). In the 1936 Games in Berlin, Hitler’s hope to use the games as a showcase of German racial superiority were dashed by African American Jesse Owen’s record-breaking performance. And in 1968, Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ use of the Black Power salute on the medal podium drew attention to the struggle for racial equality in the United States. In 1972, the terrorist organization Black September killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team before they themselves were killed in a standoff with German police. In 1980, the United States and its allies boycotted the Olympic Games in Moscow, only to have the Soviet Union and its allies return the favor four years later.

This year, the Olympic politics have centered on Russia’s repression of gay rights, a point highlighted by Greece’s rainbow-fingered gloves,  Canada’s Olympic commercial,  and the composition of the US Olympic Delegation. In this short video, the New York Times highlights the historical connection between the Olympics and politics.

(This article was previously published by the Politics Matters blog and is reprinted here with permission).