I didn’t mean to cry while writing this, but I just got back from traveling to Istanbul, and as soon as I caught a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty (from a far distance in my fifth floor walk up apartment in Brooklyn), I burst into tears because I missed my new friends from Iran and around the world. And a lot of them can’t come visit me. So I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Trump’s repressive, un-American Travel Ban during this aspirationally Putin-esque Presidency.
This man who claims to represent America signed an executive order on January 27th, 2017 titled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States." Basically, this order bans both travelers and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries (while trying to give preference to Christians, which many find unconstitutional) for at least three months. He has claimed that this will keep America safe — but I submit that this will keep the humans of this world isolated and continue to keep the world’s most powerful 1% (both in finance and in terror) in power.
1. THE TRAVEL BAN LABELS ALL HUMANS WITHIN MUSLIM COUNTRIES AS TERRORISTS
This American travel ban focuses on seven Muslim countries, and the title of the executive order implies that entire populations of people are “Foreign Terrorists.” Telling the American people this about Muslims as a whole is prejudiced, ridiculous, and factually impossible. Trump’s act is delighting the terrorists from whom he claims to be protecting us. We must resist religious segregation and continue to challenge the perception of Muslims in America.
The fact of the matter is that there are loving people and there are hateful people in every country across the world, regardless of race, religion, abilities, or sexuality. Omar Alnatour explains, in his factual look at terrorism and Islam, that statistically:
“If all Muslims are terrorists, then all Muslims are peacemakers: The same statistical assumptions being used to falsely portray Muslims as violent people can be used more accurately to portray Muslims as peaceful people. If all Muslims are terrorists because a single digit percentage of terrorists happen to be Muslim, then all Muslims are peacemakers because 5 out of the past 12 Nobel Peace Prize winners (42 percent) have been Muslims.”
2. THE TRAVEL BAN ALLOWS TERRORISTS TO CONTROL GLOBAL TRAVEL
Very small groups of terrorists are controlling the world with fear — because THEY are afraid of the power they KNOW humans have when we meet and band together, no matter how diverse we are on the outside. So are you telling me that we’re going to tell the whole world to stop traveling due to a tiny group of terrorists being persistent with threats? This current American President is supporting terrorists by allowing them to control global travel and keep human beings away from each other.
This year when I was invited to attend the World Tourism Forum 2017 Global Meeting, hosted in Istanbul, Turkey, I didn’t let any fear mongering deter me from exploring this majestic, history-rich city. I was rewarded by experiencing one of the kindest cultures that I’ve come across during my travels across seven continents, and had the privilege of meeting people from all walks of life in all humanity’s beautiful variance and uniqueness. Many world travelers won't be able to explore (or spend their money in) the United States of America and meet our citizens due to the travel ban (because they were either from or had traveled to one of those seven Muslim-majority countries; or otherwise are just chilled at the idea of traveling to a place marked by such bigoted exclusion), and we shouldn’t stand for that as U.S. citizens. People’s willingness to travel to the United States and experience our life and culture is a gift to the traveler and to the American; a world without this sharing and interaction is culturally impoverished.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1. DO NOT ISOLATE YOURSELF FROM WHAT IS DIFFERENT JUST BECAUSE IT SEEMS SCARY
Take charge of your own life and challenge your world perspective. When we meet each other, we quickly realize that country of origin, religion, skin color, sexuality, language, etc, is only the first layer to a human, and that we are all alike. Get a passport, experience the world for yourself, and meet all of the incredible human beings born on this planet; it will not only change your life, but it will change the world. (For example, when you think of Muslim females living in Iran, is this who you think of?)
Joining the World Tourism Forum to focus on long-term global tourism solutions exposed me to hundreds of brilliant, gracious, funny, helpful, and talented global citizens and adventurers. During a tour of Istanbul, I had the opportunity to speak with Kaya Demirer, who is one of the leaders of the civil society movement of the “Take Charge of Your Life” campaign in Turkey. I was moved by his passion to fight terrorism with traveling, as he reminded us that: “The alarm bells should start to ring when we are afraid to go out... We say ‘do not bow down’ to the ones trying to prevent us maintaining our daily life.”
Global travel is critical for all countries; the people you meet on every trip will open up your eyes and forever change your life. They are just as an important part to the journey as the majestic gothic skylines, breathtaking river views, and picturesque sunsets that you will encounter. Everyone’s journey will be unique — I encourage you to never give up and challenge yourself to seek out diverse, ambitious adventures that will push your life (and our world) to limits you’ve never imagined.
Writer’s Note: I would like to acknowledge that I am a grateful and lucky human being to have been born in The United States of America and that I can write about the country’s President and freely state my opinion (with the only consequence being a Trump Twitter Lashing of course). @DJT while you’re up late at night consuming media about yourself instead of trying to be an empathetic world leader, you can reach me @StrategicSteph, and meet some global citizens @StrategicStephTravels.