File this one under “even a broken clock is right twice a day.” Many on both ends of the political spectrum have concerns about the legality of President Trump’s executive order suspending immigration from seven countries with mostly Muslim populations. The most serious challenge rests on the fact that he clearly promised to ban “Muslims” from entering the US when he was campaigning for office. Over at Politico, they put it this way:
“I’d argue that even Muslims not on U.S. soil are protected [by the US Constitution]. Recent case law suggests that no act by a government official—no matter to whom it applies—can be based on disapproval of a race, ethnicity or religion. In other words, when it comes to Equal Protection, it’s the motive of the government and its agents that matters.”
Any government action motivated by discrimination against a person’s religious belief is morally wrong, not to mention unconstitutional, and not to mention foolish. After all, if President Trump were to ban Muslims today based on his alleged bigotry against them, what would stop him from banning Baptists tomorrow, based on the actions of those nasty people from the so-called Westboro “Baptist” Church?
But a government employee’s personal motive doesn’t always matter, not even the President’s.
Many people believe FDR was personally prejudiced against Asians because of his WWII decision to imprison all Japanese-Americans while leaving citizens of German or Italian descent at liberty. Even the lefties over at the Huffington Post think FDR was a bigot. If they’re right, and if Politico is also right, wouldn’t that mean FDR’s declaration of war against Japan was discriminatory?
Stuff and nonsense, of course.
Sometimes ugly personal motives and righteous public policy align. And in a situation when we know that 100% of Islamic terrorists are self professed Muslims, it is illogical to assert that a more stringent visa application vetting process for foreign Muslims is discriminatory simply because Trump may be personally bigoted against Muslims. That’s doubly true when his policy is focused on a short list of countries with governments which are barely holding onto their own power, and are much too unstable to participate in a reasonably diligent immigration vetting process on their end. Given those facts, which are not about the practice of religion, Trump’s personal motive has nothing to do with the public purpose of the policy, which is sound and reasonable to anyone with common sense.
Might this explain how Donald Trump, a man so clearly filled with foolishness in so many ways, might nonetheless be getting so much right?
This is as good a place as any to mention that I think Donald Trump is a classic example of a Biblical truth. Sometimes God works through people who neither know Him, nor love Him. God does that many times in the Hebrew scriptures, using pagan countries like Babylon and Assyria to discipline Israel and Judah. For example, in one place he calls the ruthless Assyrians the “rod of my anger,” clearly stating that they are tools for his use, in spite of the fact that they oppose everything He stands for. And God sometimes accomplishes his plans through people who seem foolish by our standards. For example, Paul wrote this in connection with his own mission to tell the world about Jesus Christ:
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Cor. 1:27-29)
Might this explain how Donald Trump, a man so clearly filled with foolishness in so many ways, might nonetheless be getting so much right? Might it explain how anybody gets anything right, since we all make fools of ourselves from time to time?
It’s certainly my theory, and I’m sticking with it.