A non-hysterical response to the Trump refugee ban

(Warning: this post will present many different viewpoints on a complex issue.)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints clearly wants its members to have charity for refugees.

Go to lds.org.  Put in the word “refugees” in a search.  87 stories came up emphasizing the importance of Christ-like love and support for refugees.

Take a look here.

In my stake in Colorado, the stake presidency has emphasized creating welcome baskets for any refugees in our area.  The Church has put out two statements in the last 13 months asking members to have charity for refugees.

And then there is this video from Elder Uchtdorf:

I think it is impossible to watch this video and not feel heartbreak for refugees.

Now having said all this, I have seen a very large number of normally reasonable people go   over the edge on Trump’s refugee ban.   Way too many people are reacting with hysteria, scorn and hatred.   Don’t get me wrong: you can oppose the steps taken by Trump.  You can march and hold peaceful protests.  But it is a sure sign you are being motivated by the wrong forces if you respond with outrage and anger.

Meanwhile, there are some things to consider.

First, read these posts.  This one.  And this one.

Let me summarize a few important points.

1)This is NOT a Muslim ban.  The largest Muslim countries (Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Nigeria) are untouched by the Trump executive order.

2)Trump is still allowing 50,000 refugees in per year, which is about the average amount admitted in the last 16 years.   Is 50,000 the right number?  I have no idea.  But how many refugees *should* be admitted?  There are literally millions of refugees who would want to come.  Do you know the exact number that should be admitted?

3)Did you know that the seven countries affected by the ban — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — were actually selected by the Obama administration in 2015 for visa waivers because the countries were of special concern because of terrorism.  Were you outraged in 2015 when the Obama administration did this, or is your outrage only selectively and hypocritically aimed at Trump?

4)Even with the seven countries involved, there are exception to the ban and exceptions for special cases.

5)Is it possible to treat refugees with charity while still encouraging them to stay near their homelands?  Should we support refugee camps in Turkey or Lebanon or Jordan or Saudi Arabia where the culture shock for refugees is not as extreme?

One last point.   If you study the history of the Church, one thing that becomes clear is that the Gospel often spreads through immigrants and refugees.  Elder Uchtdorf was a refugee.  The person who started the Church in South Korea was converted while visiting the United States.  Many of the people in China who hear about the Church do so while visiting the United States or Hong Kong or Europe.  They are quietly bringing Books of Mormon back to China.  Nobody knows how many people in China have been converted.

Is it possible that the Gospel may come to Syria because a Syrian refugee traveled to Europe or the U.S. and was converted?  I think it is very possible.

So, as I say, the Church wants us to have charity and to treat refugees with kindness and Christ-like love.  But I also think the Savior would ask us to respond to U.S. politics without outrage.  Outrage brings contention, and contention is of the devil.


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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

22 thoughts on “A non-hysterical response to the Trump refugee ban

  1. The *real* controversy in this post, of course, is the (mis?)use of the plural “Books of Mormon”.

  2. To answer Jim’s question, “Books of Mormon” is correct here.

    To my point … I think it would be a good idea for everyone to read articles before they share them too. I’ve seen a lot of inflammatory headlines being shared on social media. I’m pretty sure those articles are not being read. We live in the world where headlines and a quick glance drive the news cycle, and I’m sure the hysteria.

    The other thing is this, if people are really outraged, contact Congress. Congress has the power to check the President.

  3. If you discover you are going in the wrong direction, whether on foot or in a vehicle, the first thing you do is stop and consider a change of course. Before the election there were many who expressed concern about how to manage the refugee problem. I could tell stories about unwise compassion, but it really can be unwise and create problems. My heart goes out to those who were caught in the sudden application of the action, but I pray that the new direction will be beneficial.

  4. Thanks, Geoff, for this post. Even though I didn’t vote for him, I am wearied by the incessant screeching of Trump haters.

  5. At least in my circles, the outrage is over the betrayal to those who had already met the requirements, were en route in the air and have been detained, or were about to board planes. Not to mention the many people who have lived in America but are not citizens and find themselves caught in this mess. Frankly, that’s what leaves me furious too. I might be able to entertain the concern about incoming refugees, but not the rest of this.

  6. Jack of Hearts, I have seen that outrage also. I am skeptical that if Trump had taken just those measures the outrage meter would be set to 10 as it is today. I have literally dozens of friends on Facebook who think Trump has instituted a “Muslim ban” and are even using that as a hashtag.

  7. You have to read “Art of the Deal” to understand what Trump is doing here.

    His whole modus opeandi is explained there. Scot Adams also does a good job of explaining Trump at blog.dilbert.com

    – be outrageous to gain attention, and generate “outrage dillution” and “outrage fatigue”.

    – ask for more than what you want, so you can back off/”compromise” and “settle” for what you really wanted.

    – play on emotions more than facts. Facts don’t really matter. There are super smart people on every side of every issue, so even “smart” people operate off of emotions anyway. But most people are not smart and don’t analyze facts anyway.

    – it’s a 3d playing field, and most people operate on 2d. Those players who can operate in the 3rd dimension of persuasion are going to win. That’s how Trump creamed everyone in the primary. They were playing 2d, while he was playing in the 3d realm of emotional persuasion.

    – the die-hards are not going to change their “in group”/side anyway. You only have to move the “undecideds” to win.

    So read “Art of the Deal”. And then read Adams’s recommended “persuasion reading list.” Eye opening.

    Adam’s predicted Trump’s win back in 2015 based on Trump’s persuasion skills.

  8. My facebook has reached a new high for virtue signalling from left-leaning Mormons on this issue. I don’t know where we go from here. These are the same Mormons who had no issue trashing the church leadership after the statement on children of homosexual couples. When your political view allows you to refer to God’s prophets as “out of touch old white men,” then you might need to change your politics. That being said, if the church wants to issue a specific statement about immigration like they did with marijuana legalization and physician-assisted suicide, then I’ll follow their counsel.

  9. Book, yes, you cannot understand what Trump is doing if you assume he is an idiot. There is an extremely persuasive argument that he is playing 3D chess while the press and the left is playing checkers.

    Joey, yes, the virtue signaling is truly nauseating. It is getting more and more difficult to take people seriously when they are losing their ability to express themselves with anything approaching rationality. I would also add that the left is losing any credibility with moderates because everything for them is an emergency demanding protests and hair-on-fire hyperbole. My response is a consisent: “cry wolf much?” The left appears intent on assuring Trump’s reelection in 2020.

  10. Joey, I don’t think I know you, but I gotta admire someone who uses Chesty Puller as his avatar. I’m not a Marine, but I’ll give ya a HOO-RAH!

    Geoff: “… the left is losing any credibility with moderates because everything for them is an emergency demanding protests and hair-on-fire hyperbole.”

    Outrage fatigue. Trump is intentionally goading them into it.

  11. That’s a great point, Geoff. How long can the hair-on-fire mindset be sustainable?

    I didn’t have a candidate in this race, so it was fascinating to sit back and observe the emotion-based behavior on both sides. I think this current phenomenon of reactionary protest accentuated by social media filter bubbles is analogous to a certain type of cyber attack called denial of service (DOS).

    A DOS attack bombards a web server with fake, repeated requests for service, eventually overwhelming it and taking it down. The key to the DOS attack’s success lies in a natural vulnerability in the way computers communicate: a server *must* treat each request as authentic – it cannot tell the difference between a genuine human user request and a bot. The machine simply cannot handle the constant stream of requests and is essentially neutralized.

    I don’t think Trump is quite as brilliant as his supporters claim he is, but it may not matter. The result of his constant left-trolling may be the same. If the perpetually outraged protest class has to treat his every move like a genuine crisis, it may be eventually overwhelmed and neutralized.

    An interesting way of combating the Social Justice Horde, but I won’t complain if it succeeds.

  12. This is the closest thing I’ve seen to a balanced assessment in print.


    I, too, wished a pox on both Trump’s and Clinton’s houses. I think Trump was a terrible candidate for president, except perhaps compared with Hillary. I expect disasters to follow from Trump’s election. But this is not really in the categor of “disaster.” Frankly, I’m more concerned that Trump has apparently acted to reduce the participation of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence on the National Security Council. Which is nukkin’ futs.

    But I’ll hand Trump this much: He seems to make all the right heads explode.

  13. Steven Crowder enacted a hilarious parody of the ‘so-called women’s’ march by dressing up in pink sweater, long black wig and yoga pants and mingling with the crowd. The saddest/funniest part is when he interviewed Wendy Davis. The media fawned on this oddly misogynistic gathering, including cringe worthy quotes from Ashley Judd and Madonna. A week later they gave scant notice to the March for Life, which may have gathered nearly as many people. What little publicity the March for Life gained came from Trump’s challenge to the media that they should cover it for once. As for the furor over the immigration ban, it has produced some video that is either shocking (ban supporter knocked unconscious by ravers in Portland) or amusing ( Schumer in tears and Senator Liz Warren interacting with a group of young folks repeating her every phrase much to her annoyance). So far in spite of all the sound and fury, Trump’s approval rating with the people who voted for him seems to increase. I fear for anyone who can gather so much power but so far the farcical game is entertaining. One of the most important moves he will make at the beginning of his presidency comes tomorrow when he nominates a justice to replace Scalia. Doubtless his opponents will try to summon at least equivalent outrage to their performance this past weekend when they find he has chosen a constitutional originalist.

  14. I’m curious about the Sen. Warren video. I find her to be an utterly fraudulent empty pantsuit.

  15. Let’s review some of the (non-alternative) facts:
    a. Trump stated during his campaign that he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the US.
    b. Rudy Giuliani revealed that Trump asked him to “show the right way to do it [the Muslim ban] legally. What resulted was the ban on travel from seven select Muslim countries.
    c. No one has died from a terrorist attack committed by someone from one of those seven countries in the last two decades.
    d. In 2016 the US welcomed 38.9k Muslim refugees. At least 30k came from the seven countries included in Trump’s ban.
    e. Trumps ban makes specific exceptions for religious minorities in those seven countries (e.g. Christians).

    What we have is a law that originated out of a desire to ban Muslims refugees, will largely achieve that objective while providing political cover, doesn’t keep us safer, and could contribute to radicalizing Muslims already here.

    You are correct that it technically isn’t a Muslim ban but this may only be due to people from both parties “reacting with hysteria, scorn and hatred” after he first floated the idea. I suppose you’re left-leaning Facebook friends could accurately describe it as Trump’s quasi Muslim ban or aspiring Muslim ban or “doesn’t make us safer but reduces the number of Muslim refugees entering the country” ban but I doubt that would make you happy.

  16. Trump is doing what all politicians do: playing the left and right off each other to ignore the fact that he hasn’t cut taxes, built a wall with Mexico’s money, or repealed Obamacare, etc.

    This is a distraction issue that infuriated his opponents. An infuriated progressive invites a reasoned response from conservatives, which means Trump’s supporters aren’t questioning why he didn’t repeal Obamacare like he promised.

    It might be 3d chess, but the first two dimensions is to get the left and right fighting so Trump can win.

    The other set of facts:
    We, including all the moderate Muslims, have a serious radicalization problem from Muslims who buy into the jihad against the West philosophy. It’s bad enough that it doesn’t seem to matter where that person comes from. Even the children of immigrants are susceptible to becoming “converted”.

    It’s clear the next terrorist attack will blame Trump. Rather than be united against an enemy with a plan to defeat them wherever they are we will fight on Facebook and go back to our fast food living out the decline of the West in shabby state funded decadence.

    Rather than take the generational long effort to defeat jihadism, or whatever you want to call it, our society lost its nerve because we’d rather fight on Facebook than against rapists and murderers. That is also a fact.

    Obama rose to the top exacerbating the situation with convoluted, misguided rhetoric; but the responsibility is not entirely his. The people who voted for him and the people who were cowered into assuming a military solution to a military problem is not the answer. Syria needs a military solution.

    Obama left Iraq leaving thousands to die, as many predicted. Leaving a that country to let so many die is excatly inline with restricting immigration from there.

    If we are not willing to protect the people where they they need help, I’m not at all bothered by banning people from traveling here unless they are highly vetted.

    We didn’t allow just anyone easy access to the USA from cold war countries, and there had to be a clear reason. If we’re unwilling as a people to help clean up the mess over there (which we share a small part in), we should restrict trade and travel except for very limited purposes. This should include far more than the seven countries. As soon as those countries show they are liberalizing, classically speaking, we have an obligation to reciprocate any allow travel and trade here.

    If we don’t want to fight them, we must isolate them. I feel that’s an inhuman solution and would rather we work together here to fight with people who want change over there.

    It’s seen as neoconservative or warlike, but we’re looking at ww2 level problems and admitting refugees while hoping the fire snuffs itself out isn’t a strategy.

  17. Miles, I won’t argue your points a or b, and I’m not sure I understand the relevance of d or e. I will take issue with your point c, however, because I’m not a fan of red herrings.

    I don’t recall Trump or anybody in his camp ever claiming that the EO was a reaction to terrorist attacks committed by refugees from the affected countries. I don’t recall Trump ever claiming that refugees have committed terrorist attacks on our soil. There was obviously concern about potential dangers from these countries, or the Obama Admin wouldn’t have listed them for waivers. The US specifically may not have seen terrorist attacks or violent crimes from refugees, but Europe definitely has.

    This is unpopular to say (especially in an America where virtue signaling is king), but I don’t think it’s racist, bigoted or even unsympathetic to be concerned about importing a population who at the very least has been immersed in toxic stress in a land fertile for radicalization. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take them in, but it does warrant concern.

    I know, I know- refugee screening is the most thorough vetting process in the world! Never mind that 6 of these 7 countries have no functional central governments. Never mind that these people won’t show up in a database, or that there’s no real way to verify their claims. In the end, it’s a matter of taking them at their word. Not good enough for me. I detest the way Trump went about this EO, but a relatively brief pause in intake isn’t unwarranted.

  18. I see a lot of virtue signaling out there but very little critical thought. Trump’s EO still allows in 50,000 refugees per year, which is about average for the last 16 years. Millions want to come. Should they all be allowed in immediately without controls? I don’t think anybody sane wants that. It is basic common sense that if you are going to take somebody from a Muslim world with a very different culture and then fly them to someplace in the U.S. there should be a reasonable integration process. It helps nobody to send tens of thousands of people in and then set them up in Arabic-speaking ghettoes where their only interaction is with other refugees. Don’t we want them to have jobs, learn English and learn about the U.S. Constitution? I think the answer is yes, and if that is the case we need to have some controls over the numbers and where they go and how they are integrated. Some features of Trump’s EO actual show that this is his intent. And I will point this out again: it is not necessarily humane to separate families and send refugees to Europe and the U.S. when they could remain in the Arab world and then return home more quickly once the conflict is over. Aleppo is much more peaceful today than it was a year ago. Wouldn’t it be nice for people in Aleppo to be able to return to their homes and businesses as quickly as possible?

  19. A voice of reason, and common sense. Thank you.

    It is disturbing to see so many in the LDS church embrace Communism. And even more disturbing that the LDS church leadership supports Globalist Communism and becoming more and more secular, and ignoring common sense.

  20. Trump is not intentionally goading the Left into violent protests. The rioters / anarchists are a well oiled machine funded and organized by Communist / Fascist factions and organizations , whose intent is to take over the American government by starting a civil war.

    This is not a conspiracy theory and has been proven to be a reality. And the treason and sedition by too many politicians is sickening.

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