3 Questions to Stop You From Losing Your Mind Over Trump’s New Immigration Ban
A New Ban Is Here
As previously announced by White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, President Trump issued a new travel ban today.
The new executive order, which keeps many provisions of the original ban, will again restrict travelers from specific Muslim-majority nations. But there are some changes.
What Is Different About This Travel Ban?
- The new executive order, signed today, lists only 6 Muslim-Majority countries, not 7. Travelers from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen are affected. Notably, citizens from Iraq are no longer included.
- The ban no longer applies to permanent residents, dual nationals, or people who hold current visas.
- The order now bans Syrian refugees for a temporary period–120 days–rather than an indefinite length of time.
- The new executive order does not consider religious preference when assessing potential refugee admissions.
- Unlike the first executive order which was implemented immediately, with no warning, the new ban will phase in after 10 days.
(For a very detailed look at the revisions made to the original ban, go here.)
So It’s About to Get Hot in Here
Despite the Trump administration’s insistence that this is a “better” ban, it will no doubt reignite debates.
And, as follows, many who grow tired of the ugliness will seek the nearest adorable cat and/or baby photo to hide behind during the social media bloodbath.
(Read my invitation to learn about refugees in a safe context here.)
Whatever articles and news coverage you watch in the coming days, here are 3 important questions to help promote a balanced, informed point of view.
1. Are the choices being publicized our only choices?
One reason these travel bans are so polarizing is they seem to put two of our country’s long held values–safety and compassion–in conflict. As we sort through partisan stories, it can seem like we have to choose between the two.
It’s safety or compassion.
Security vs. kindness.
Safeguard your own family OR be a refuge for the poor, the weary, the huddled masses.
The inference behind many stories, on both sides, is we can’t do both.
The question, I humbly submit, that we should all be asking is: Or can we?
Is it really true that there’s no way to reasonably protect ourselves and still shelter suffering people groups? Or are we being pushed to unnecessarily extremist positions out of fear of losing ground to people we view as our political opponents?
2. Is My Information Biased or Incomplete?
In this day and age, where information is just a click away, it might seem like we all have access to the same information.
But this isn’t necessarily the case.
Many social media platforms collect data about the kinds of posts we like and then use that information to feed us posts we are likely to enjoy.
For many other topics–say sports or travel, for instance–these social media algorithms are a good thing. They keep the stories in your news feed interesting to you and weed out reports on things you wouldn’t want to read anyways.
When this same algorithm directs news stories about political events, however, it can mislead readers.
A person may see their Facebook feed flood with one-sided stories that make the immigration ban seem very cut and dry.
How This Works
If someone has liked a lot of Republican content, then, Facebook may be more likely to feed them stories aligned with the Republican President. They will then see article after article from right-leaning outlets who make it seem like the immigration or refugee issues are cut and dry. They’ll be presented with partial or biased data that suggests the “right position” is so obvious, how can the rest of the world be missing such a no brainer?!
But before you wag your finger, my Democrat friends, know that bias works both ways. If you’ve been liking and commenting and following left-leaning public figures or outlets, you too are getting biased, curated data that is designed to steer you away from supporting any travel restrictions…or anything that comes out of the Trump administration or Republican offices, for that matter.
So what’s a reasonable person to do in this sensational, click bait news era?
In addition to looking for solutions that both welcome refugees and protect our country from militant extremists, we have to resolve to be aware of biased news flows. That means acknowledging we may be absorbing a lot of incomplete information from social media and news agencies (many of which are owned by right or left-leaning entities).
- We have to break away from our conditioning, in some cases, which may suggest to us that one party–Democrats or Republicans–always offer superior solutions while all of the other party’s ideas are always without merit. (We have plenty of historical evidence that both parties get it wrong sometimes.)
- Humility demands we acknowledge there *may* be information that we don’t have. It’s *possible*, for instance, that public officials in D.C. may have access to emerging data, that I–as I clean up my toddler’s apple juice spills here in Michigan–don’t yet have. With this respect for what we don’t know, we can then purposefully search out complete information and then (and only then) apply our values and beliefs to the issue.
- To round out our ideas, we may want to start a new habit of reading about important news stories on several different, contrasting media outlets. We may choose to stretch our comfort zones by talking with a smart, sane, polite friend who votes differently than we do. We may pledge to fact-check social media memes that go viral because they over-simplify the problems and solutions.
**cough, cough** We may bother noticing if the publisher of a story is even a legitimate *news* agency at all.
3. Are We Projecting Pre-Conceived Ideas on to What We Hear?
A couple weeks ago, I wrote what I thought was a very simple, heartfelt Facebook post. It encouraged people to pause in the middle of all the fear mongering to remember how immigrants have enriched our communities in the past.
However non-inflammatory the statements seemed in my mind, they of course immediately triggered plenty of debate.
While the comments on my posts stayed *mostly* respectful, I noticed right away that many of the people began arguing against specific positions that I had never voiced…and, in some cases, don’t even hold.
I am a political moderate, for example. I have voted for both Democratic and Republican candidates. But because my post asked people to think critically about a ban that came out of the Republican administration, some instantly assumed I must be a tried and true progressive. They began trying to convince me of conservative values, which ironically, in a few cases, I already believed.
Noticing this phenomena made me wonder to myself if I possibly did the same thing when reading posts supporting the travel ban. Did I tend to lump each person into one category, ignoring any nuance to what they were saying? Were there valid points and sub-points I was dismissing because I assumed they were too hard-core Republican or too hard-code Democrat for me to agree with their positions?
Was I perhaps even overlooking some potential solutions because of where those ideas came from?
Oh yes. I was ABSOLUTELY doing the same thing. I was projecting attitudes and ideas on to people without listening to hear how they, as individuals, sorted out some of the complex topics at stake.
As a result, my own desire to be heard and understood made me resolve to listen better. Not just in listening to my friends and acquaintances, but also in listening to public figures and media members.
Because here’s the thing.
People on the right? They want to protect their families and communities.
And if you push away all the fears and political positioning, this is probably something a lot of those on the left want too.
None of us want to paint targets on our loved ones, right?
And the people on the left? They want to be compassionate to strangers in need.
And, again, if you push away all the fear and political jockeying, this is probably something a lot of the right would want too…if they thought it was possible without undermining our communities’ safety.
A Balanced Search for Solutions
When we become aware of our biases and try to search out more complete information; when we stop projecting pre-conceived ideas on speakers and try to listen more closely for nuance, we are more likely to discover solutions that grow out of the common ground between us. And even if we don’t find that magic compromise that both sides can live with, maybe we can at least become kinder, saner people who are more tolerable to live alongside.
(To aid in this process in the days to come, I’ll be sharing some other guiding questions that might be helpful for sorting through such a complex issue. Please come back, share your comments below, and learn and search for sanity and wisdom with me.)