Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Concern Trolls and Refugees

Well the media old and new has been dominated by the news of Donald Trumps `Muslim Ban` executive order. In addition to the gross bigotry and toxic nature of the order, the resistance its provoked has ensured back to back coverage.

I think its worth reading the full text of the Executive Order(EO), the order is pretty divisive so its good to keep the source in mind when being barraged with claims and counterclaims. As far as bureaucratic decrees go this one is actually fairly easy to grasp and is pretty short. So far the ban applies (well it did before the courts challenged it) to Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Iran, unique and diverse nations whose only common thread is that Islam in one sect or another is the majority religion*. Hence the dubbing of the order "The Muslim Ban". Interestingly many supporters of the EO are also referring to it as a ban on Muslims, which hasn't really helped the new administration get this accepted

“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting.” 
But hey everybody has a hard time making sure everyone on the team stays on message.

One thing that's stood out to me is that the large number of supporters trying to justify the EO by resorting to what's now known as concern trolling. In the old days we just called it lying. Concern trolling is feigning concern for someone or something in order to advance an argument. Its pretending you care purely for self gain. Its one of the scummiest rhetorical tricks someone can do, because there's no actual attempt to help  or support the vulnerable, and their existence and issues is being exploited to make whoever the other side is look bad.

In this particular case, the group being used to troll the opposition is the LGBT folks. A lot of comments on the social media sites and youtube videos (yes even videos which have nothing to do with the subject)

For example this tweet about Iranian persecution of homosexuals,
Prompted responses like these

A couple more for completeness sake:

Omar Mateen the Pulse shooter was born in the USA to Afghan parents, if the United States had already used Trump's Executive Order policy nothing would of changed.

I could keep going but I think I'll stop there. I've called most of these people concern trolls, to be completely I believe at least a few people are being genuine to some extent, its up to you where you draw the line. As someone who frequents Gay and Bi etc news sites and boards there's no shortage of xenophobia amongst a vocal group of users and commenters. But for me the main reason for concern trolling relies on two things, the shear number of these types of protest is suspect, at best domestically this support for Gay rights and the wellbeing of Queer individuals was a fringe sentiment amongst the western right.

More tellingly though is that this groundswell of support is in defence of a project that won't actually help any homosexual or queer person, on the contrary this travel ban actively leaves many at risk of persecution and death.

Their correct in that the Iranian government executes people for homosexuality, indeed it has a way of treating many of its citizens in a brutal and miserable fashion. For example in 2014 Iran executed at least 81 people, two of which Abdullah Ghavami Chahzanjiru and Salman Ghanbari Chahzanjiri seem to have been executed for the crime of consensual sodomy. Its hard to tell because the Iranian government is rather sensitive on both subjects, so isn't very transparent.

And ISIS is well known for the practice of throwing men accused of sodomy off of the roofs of buildings and then ensuring the victim is dead either by beatings or stoning.

These two examples are pretty vile and I wouldn't feel comfortable rubbing shoulders with these people. The problem? There's a difference between a regime and a quasi state and the people who suffer under them. As I've said I have read the Executive Order in its entirety and say with confidence that it will do far more harm than good. See, gays, or indeed anyone under threat from these two and others is also banned from seeking sanctuary in the United States. All refugee applications are to be halted for at least 120 days.

Sec. 5. Realignment of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for Fiscal Year 2017. (a) The Secretary of State shall suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days.
There isn't a sexual orientation persecution exception. The only exception is for religious minority persecution. A gay person fleeing persecution by the Iranian government is considered an Iranian national, so not only will refugee status be denied to them but even if can scarp together the money for another type of visa they will also be denied entry to the United States.

Someone trying to escape ISIS would be a Syrian or Iraqi national (yes even the Kurds) so unless they would be subject to the same restrictions. This is not a helpful policy for LGBTQ people from these seven nations. The fates of people who attempt to seek asylum and refuge in another country can be very bleak, at best they'll wind up in a makeshift camp like the one in Calais, legally unclear and potentially vulnerable to punitive action. If your unlucky you can be returned to your nation, the one you tried to escape from after you gave incriminating information about yourself in order to have a chance at proving your persecution. 

The thing about refugees is that they're avenues for escape are extremely limited by their means (usually a lack of) and circumstance. Its not like a travel agency, where you can flick through brochures and then send of an application. Their choice, if they even have one is dictated by outside factors. Meaning since the USA is now definitely off the table as an option many will be completely out of luck, or have to try with another nation where their chances of acceptance are worse. Thousands attempt to seek asylum in Australia despite the standard practice being kept in a prison camp on Nauru or another pacific island for several years before being deported. Why do people keep trying? No other alternative, its take a gamble on Australia or nothing.

A similar situation occurred in the 1980's when the Regan administration attempted to stop migration from Guatemala and El Salvador. Thousands who were fleeing the death squads were sent back into the hands of the military junta's.
Characterizing the Salvadorans and Guatemalans as "economic migrants," the Reagan administration denied that the Salvadoran and Guatemalan governments had violated human rights. As a result, approval rates for Salvadoran and Guatemalan asylum cases were under three percent in 1984. In the same year, the approval rate for Iranians was 60 percent, 40 percent for Afghans fleeing the Soviet invasion, and 32 percent for Poles.
The Justice Department and INS actively discouraged Salvadorans and Guatemalans from applying for political asylum. Salvadorans and Guatemalans arrested near the Mexico-U.S. border were herded into crowded detention centers and pressured to agree to "voluntarily return" to their countries of origin. Thousands were deported without ever having the opportunity to receive legal advice or be informed of the possibility of applying for refugee status. Considering the widely reported human rights violations in El Salvador and Guatemala, the treatment of these migrants constituted a violation of U.S. obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention
The actions of the Reagan administration are also worth noting as the opposition to Reagans policy led to the birth of the sanctuary movement, something that's become more well known than in recent years since Trump's election.

 Sometimes deportation or refusal of entry can mean death

Escaping an assassination attempt, he fled again into a neighbouring
country where he lives in hiding, still not safe:
Australia, another nation with a really strict immigration/refugee/asylum procedure has provided plenty of evidence of the dangers of being deported when authorities deny your application. The above quote is from Deported to Danger a case study of 40 deported asylum seekers. The report was drafted by the Edward Rice Centre and is one of several reports on this subject .

You might think I'm belabouring the point, but I've been surprised many times how rare it is for people to grasp this simple fact. People who are desperate to leave often have a very bad end when prevented from doing so. It isn't helpful, its not designed to be helpful. If the Trump administration really cared about the persecution of homosexuals by the Islamic extremists, they could easily have written an exemption or moved to make it easier for Queer Muslims (yes they exist) or just any LGBTQ type person from those seven nations to get asylum in the United States.

They didn't have a problem doing for the religious

(b) Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality. Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.
Note that religious based persecution here doesn't mean the religion of the persecutor was the basis of the persecution, its about the religion of the alleged persecuted being the motivating factor for the persecution.

But instead we have nothing.

*They also have Islamist movements but that's also true of Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia etc. but their not on the list. Also all seven nations have no business links with Donald Trump and no political capital in the United States. But I'm sure those last two points are just coincidental.

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