Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s recent call to ban all Muslims from entry into the United States has shocked not only Americans, but all reasonable, fair-minded people around the world. The full repercussions of Trump’s exclusionary, prejudicial comments are still coming into focus, but the world should take note of America’s polls showing support for comments unbecoming the leader of any country, much less such a powerful one.
Because Trump’s comment to block all entry for Muslims is so blatantly, unapologetically discriminatory, it marks a new low in the worsening political atmosphere in the U.S. Because blocking entry to all Muslims, or any religious, cultural or ethnic group would be impossible, it also marks a frightening shift toward unreality. That poor grasp of the actual situation of most Muslims, not to mention his contempt for the traditions of American openness and acceptance of immigrants, needs to be refuted.
The backlash against Trump’s vast empire of developments, name-brand products and other enterprises may serve him right, but that is little consolation to the millions of U.S. Muslims who will suffer an increase in discrimination in their own country and to the millions of refugees from Muslim countries who need a safe haven. Sweeping generalizations are no way to run a country. Responsible, fair-minded and effective actions are.
Newspaper and other media outlets need to restate clearly and directly the best refutation of Trump’s discriminatory and dangerous comments: Muslims deserve respect and fair treatment, just as all other people do. Muslims have a long and varied history, a multifaceted culture, profound traditions and a religion that is thriving across large sections of the globe. It is surely the media’s responsibility to correct any unfair and untrue picture of millions of people around the world spouted by any public figure.
Due to the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, many of the world’s refugees are Muslim. Japan is the second largest donor to the U.N. Refugee Agency, behind the U.S., yet in 2014 Japan accepted only 11 asylum seekers out of roughly 5,000 candidates. This 0.2 percent acceptance rate placed it in a distant last place among the OECD members. Since 2011, Japan has only accepted three out of the roughly 60 Syrians who have applied for asylum since 2011. And while many Western nations are stepping up and providing shelter to refugees, Japan is showing no signs of willingness to open the gates of asylum any wider.
Trump may be a demagogue whose outlandish comments promote his troubling candidacy in the short run. But in the long run, his bluster and vitriol will vanish from front pages. What will not disappear is the need to promote fair treatment for the world’s millions of refugees. Japan should be willing to do more to help them than make large donations.
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