Throughout his campaign and time in office, Trump hasn’t been quiet about the fact that he is determined to register Muslim Americans in a database–which is clearly not OK at all and seems eerily similar to what happened during the Holocaust and during World War II, with the Japanese-American Internment Camps. Now that he’s President, that campaign promise has become more than just word service, there may be “teeth” and deliberate intent to revisit the mistakes that we thought were long since gone. But, celebrities are taking a stand and rallying support for the Muslim community.
When Did Trump Propose A Muslim Directory?
In November 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump was asked: “Is there going to be a database that tracks the Muslims here in this country?” And, he responded: “There should be a lot of systems, beyond database, we should have a lot of systems, and today you can do it.”
Since then, there’s been lots of debate about what Trump said (or didn’t say) after his rally that day, and whether or not he fully understood the question being asked by the reporter. He was later asked specifically how he’d get Muslims registered in a database. He replied: “It would be just good management. What you have to do is good management procedures and we can do that.”
Kris Kobach Talks About Registry
Kris Kobach is Kansas Secretary of State. At one point, he was rumored to be in the running to be named Attorney General, but we know now that it didn’t go anywhere. Could being passed over for A.G. have anything to do with comments he famously shared with Reuters about Trump’s Muslim Registry?
Kobach is infamous for the hardline anti-immigration legislation he’s helped draft. In November 2016, he reported that he’d been part of discussions that included what he called “extreme vetting” as part of the immigration enforcement. And, hey, you knew that the registry already existed, right? Kobach actually helped launch the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) under President George W. Bush’s Department of Justice. Not a surprise, right?
What Is NSEERS, REALLY?
Yep, it existed for years, following Sept. 11, 2001. And, it really wasn’t a shock at the time. America had been the target of a catastrophic terrorist plot, so the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) was put into place. On the most basic level, NSEERS officials were responsible for interrogations, fingerprinting, registering non-citizens, and tracking their travel.
While this program was implemented in 2002, it came under regular criticism from immigration rights advocates, who claimed it profiled immigrants based on religion and ethnicity. While the Justice Department claimed the regulatory framework was successful, that claim was hotly debated. The American Civil Liberties Union said it was largely “ineffective.” With some 93,000 cases filed, there were no (zero, zilch) convictions.
President Obama Orders Removal
Portions of NSEERS were suspended in 2011, and President Obama ordered that the entire registry be deleted in December 2016, under pressure from some 200 civil-liberties organizations and with a statement from the Department of Homeland Security that it was “rendered obsolete.” Sounds great, right? Well, don’t celebrate just yet… Just signing the order may not have been enough!
Since Obama signed the regulatory order so close to the end of his term in office, it can be rescinded by an act of Congress. Of course, given the uncertainty and infinite realm of possibilities, there are now rumors that the Trump administration may use the registry for nefarious reasons.
Carl Higbie’s Cringeworthy Statement
Somehow, you might just guess that the Japanese-American internment might be mentioned by more than just naysayers, but you’ve gotta admit that Carl Higbie’s line was a bit over the top. He was on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News show when Higbie said that the registry proposal would be legal and that it would “hold constitutional muster.”
Higbie further stated: “We’ve done it with Iran back awhile ago. We did it during World War II with the Japanese.” He further argued that some Muslims follow “extreme ideology,” and are “doing harm.” Ultimately, he said, “Look, the president needs to protect America first, and if that means having people that are not protected under our Constitution have some sort of registry so we can understand — until we can identify the true threat and where it’s coming from, I support it.”
Trevor North Speaks Against It
Trevor Noah is the host of The Daily Show, and he has been very vocal about his opinions about the Muslim registry, particularly during an episode that aired in November 2016. “We need to stand in solidarity with Muslim people who are being targeted by Donald Trump,” he said. “If they start registering Muslims in America, we all register as Muslims.”
Trevor Noah indicated that if everyone stood up and claimed to be Muslim, it would “take away any power the registry might have.” He also said that giving Trump a Muslim Registry (particularly after everything he’s said over the last two years) seemed like “a dangerous idea.”
Madeleine Albright Stands In Solidarity
Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has been very vocal against registering Muslims but also Trump’s executive order, which has been called the “Muslim Ban.”
“I was raised Catholic, became Episcopalian & found out later my family was Jewish,” Albright tweeted. “I stand ready to register as Muslim in #solidarity.” But, the debate about the registry debate really goes hand-and-hand with the Muslim ban, since it’s all part of the reported effort to either refuse entry of Muslims into the US, while simultaneously monitoring any Muslims who do arrive.
No Fine Print On The Statue Of Liberty
It’s a double-edged sword for human rights and immigration activists. And, Albright has gone further to say: “There is no fine print on the Statue of Liberty. America must remain open to people of all faiths & backgrounds.
There have been many references to the Statue of Liberty and also that famous poem by Emma Lazarus thatso famously begins: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” In more recent days the images of desperate Syrian refugees have also continued to tug at your heartstrings and leave us all with the intense desire to do more to help.
Gloria Steinem Speaks Out At Women’s March
The Women’s March was already a powerful statement in protest against President Trump, his administration, and his policies, but along with the upsurge of passionate intensity from the crowds, you also heard inspiring speeches, like the one from Gloria Steinem, a famed feminist author, journalist, and activist, who said: “If you force Muslims to register, we will all register as Muslims.”
“So don’t try to divide us. Do not try to divide us,” said Steinem. She’s no stranger to political and social controversy. In 2015, she also became an honorary co-chairwoman of 2015 Women’s Walk For Peace In Korea. She was also an honorary co-chairwoman for the Women’s March, in Washington DC, in January 2017.
Mayim Bialik Says She’ll Register
Mayim Bialik is an actress and neuroscientist, who’s known for her role on Blossom and The Big Bang Theory, for which she won the Critic’s Choice Television Award for “Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.” Beyond the long list of roles on television and movies, she’s also a vocal activist for the causes that are most important to her. About the Muslim Registry, she said: “I’m Jewish. I stand ready to register as a Muslim in #solidarity if it comes to that.”
She has called herself a staunch Zionist, and she’s also been a celebrity spokesperson for the Holistic Mom’s Network. She also wrote a book, Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way.
Jennifer Lawrence’s Broken Heart
Jennifer Lawrence is an American actress who’s famous as one of the highest-paid actresses in the world, with fame from her roles in Garden Party (2008), Winter’s Bone (2010), X-Men: First Class (2011), and of course Hunger Games (2012-2015). She’s not been silent, and she also supported the Women’s March last month. “Do not give this administration a ‘chance’ to do the terrible things it wants to do,” her statement read. “Fight for equality, fight for women to have control over their bodies. Thank you to all of those who are taking action!”
With her infamous background playing Katniss Everdeen and Mystique, she’s in the perfect position to really lay it all out. As she most recently posted to Facebook: “My broken heart goes out to the innocent lives of Muslim refugees that are trying to escape terror and find safety for their families. I and millions of Americans understand that someone’s race or religion should never keep them in harm’s way. It should be every person’s duty to help and protect anyone no matter their nationality. I pray for sanity and compassion to return to the White House.”
What About Katy Perry’s PSA?
While some celebrities are saying they’ll sign up for the Muslim registry and others are speaking out against it, Katy Perry is taking it a giant leap further. She produced a Public Service Announcement (PSA), directed by Aya Tanimura. As a way of shedding light on the realities of what the Muslim registry could really mean, they told the story of Haru Kuromiya, one of the survivors from the Japanese-American internment camps.
In dramatic fashion, the video draws parallels between the Japanese internment and Trump’s Muslim registry. She also blitzed her PSA out via Twitter, asking, “Is history repeating itself?” She also used the hashtag for “Don’t normalize hate.”
George Takei Speaks Out
After Carl Higbie’s comments about the Muslim registry, George Takei (famous for his role on Star Trek) took up his pen in an essay, published by The Washington Post. Yes, Higbie cited the Japanese American internment camps as a “precedent” for the Muslim registry, but Takei was actually there.
George Takei was five years old when he was taken from his home, and eventually sent “1,000 miles to the east by rail car” until they reached the “fetid swamps of Arkansas at the Rohwer Relocation Center.” He says, “Really, it was a prison: Armed guards looked down upon us from sentry towers; their guns pointed inward at us; searchlights lit pathways at night. We understood. We were not to leave.”
Alicia Keys Speaks Against the Muslim Registry
During the Women’s March last month, Alicia Keys took to the stage with a powerful and memorable speech about women’s rights, racism, and discrimination. Part of her speech included: “No hate, no bigotry, no Muslim registry.”
She also said, “We will not allow our compassionate souls to get stepped on. We want the best for all Americans.” As an award-winning singer-songwriter and actress, with 35 million albums and 30 million singles worldwide, she also sang a version of “Girl on Fire,” making the critical tweak to say: “These girls are on fire.”
Howard Gordon Speaks Out
Howard Gordon is the creator of Homeland, for which he won the Primetime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.” He also co-developed Tyrant with Craig Wright. He also produced Awake, and did work on Country Estates, The X-Files, one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and The Inside.
With his work on Homeland and Tyrant, he included Muslims and Arab-Americans in the Creative process — with input from an on-staff writer, as well as Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). He told TheWrap, “There’s a difference between recognizing and discussing the danger of terrorism and exploiting the climate of fear in this country. We have a responsibility to remember what we all have in common.”
Support From Entertainment Industry
The Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Hollywood Bureau bridges between the Muslim community and the entertainment industry. According to reports, they’ve received “dozens” of phone calls from Muslim, Jewish and Christian members of the entertainment world offering words of support.
“In one way, the human community is coming together in Hollywood,” Suhad Obeidi, director of the MPAC Hollywood Bureau, told TheWrap. As more support continues to arise from celebrities in Hollywood about President Trump’s Muslim Registry, Obeidi says, “I’m very hopeful.” She’s concerned about young Muslims, though she doesn’t believe that Trump’s agenda will be rounding up Muslims and throwing them into internment camps.
National Registry of White Males
As a response to all the campaign promises to establish the Muslim Registry, Candace Thompson started what she called “a little art project.” It’s the National Registry of White Males. “Forget the nation of Islam, our most immediate threat to domestic security is and always has been white, straight men,” she wrote in a Facebook post in November.
“That is why I have decided to do my part as a Red Blooded Patriot by creating The White Male Registry. It is a simple google form complete with questions that will help identify just how much of a threat to American security any individual white male may pose to the general public.”
No Muslim Registry in Spokane
The Spokane City Council voted to support an ordinance that would prevent any city employee from participating in the development of “a program that requires, or has the effect of requiring, persons to register on the basis of religious affiliation, belief, or conduct.”
While some called the ordinance an example of misunderstanding, key members of the Council said it was essential to ensure public safety. “You can’t hide your head in the sand, and prevent – I just want to start crying,” City Council Ben Stuckart said, before calling for the vote. “It’s really happening, these things are really happening.” Other communities are following suit.
Michael Fertik Speaks Out
Michael Fertik is an Internet entrepreneur and privacy advocate, as well as CEO of Reputation.com. In 2010, Fertik has been called “Entrepreneur of the Year” by TechAmerica. Forbes also said that he’d “more or less invented the sector of online reputation management.”
He has spoken out against the Muslim registry, as well as said that he would sign up as a Muslim in the registry. This month, he reiterated in his post on Twitter: “I hereby renew my pledge to join a Muslim registry if any such ugliness appear in the US.” He doesn’t seem to mind what the statement will do to his celebrity status.
Tech Workers Say ‘No’ to Muslim Registry
As President Trump goes ahead with the Muslim Registry promise, it just makes sense that tech workers will be involved in programming, data gathering, and analysis. That’s why some tech workers are now standing up and saying that they want no part in the support of a Muslim Registry.
They’ve all signed a pledge on NeverAgain.tech. “We refuse to build a database of people based on their constitutionally-protected religious beliefs. We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable,” the group wrote. The tech workers also promise to speak out if data is misused at their companies, and also quit their jobs instead of supporting controversial (even possibly illegal) data-collection practices by the government. As all the voices coalesce in protest against the Muslim Registry, the hope is that it will all make a difference.