The following statement comes from a group of people from Islamic Alliance for Justice, Native American Students at Cornell (NASAC), Cornell DREAM Team, MEChA de Cornell and Asian Pacific Americans for Action (APAA) who were affected directly or indirectly by the events of this past week and decided to come together to organize. We’re a collective group of students, and this is our collective statement:
Over the past week, President Donald Trump issued a series of executive actions, some of which explicitly target marginalized communities including Muslims, refugees, undocumented peoples, Indigenous folx, Latinx folx, people who cannot access healthcare and working class people. One of these executive orders prohibits entry to the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations which include Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Since Trump has claimed that America’s shores are still open to Christian refugees from these countries, the ban rests on the presupposition that Muslims from these countries are terrorists and that Islam is an inherently violent religion. It is worth noting that each of these seven countries has either been directly bombed by the United States or hit with debilitating economic sanctions, and that their residents are being prevented from escaping the conditions created in these countries by US imperialism. The economic and social pressure exerted on these countries is a legacy of the destabilizing policies America has pursued in the Middle East and the world over, which has forced millions to brave deadly odds in order to escape the horrors wrought by US imperialism.
Our current grim reality is not merely a creation of Trump. This has been the trajectory of American power since its inception, and therefore his actions simply continue America’s legacy as a racist, imperialist, patriarchal, white supremacist, capitalist, settler-colonialist project. There is no mythologized past of American greatness because America was never great; we resist Trump as fervently as we resist what the American state has inflicted on its oppressed peoples since it established itself as a power. When we protest Trump and his executive actions to ban Muslims and refugees, to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, to ramp up deportations and to continue the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and Keystone XL Pipeline on un-ceded Indigenous lands, we need to question the American narrative itself. The United States is a nation-state founded on the genocide of Indigenous peoples and the slave labor of Black and Brown bodies. The U.S. is an imperialist nation-state that commits horrific acts of violence through bombings and drone strikes on countries that are now targeted by the Muslim travel ban. The U.S. is a nation-state that has and continues to exist only on the backs of exploited workers, both domestic and worldwide.
American injustices – slavery, Indigenous genocide, colonialist projects abroad – are not stains of the past but objective features of the present. Today, Black bodies are disproportionately targeted by police, the clearest weapon of the State, and are incarcerated at a rate 6 times higher than that of whites. Indigenous women experience the highest rate of sexual assault and rape out of all racial groups in this country. In Obama’s America, undocumented immigrants faced more ICE raids and deportations than ever before. Brown bodies abroad continue to suffer from an unprecedented expansion of the drone program under Obama. It is clear that Muslims have been targets of structural and individual violence even before the Muslim travel ban. Violence against marginalized and poor communities is not new. Xenophobia is not new. Trump, his policies, and the oppression he perpetuates are not new; he is simply a clearer face of an America that continues to feed off of violence and subjugation.
It is up to all of us today to rise and fight. We fight Trump’s Muslim travel ban that has left thousands of people stranded in places bombed, droned and sanctioned by the US. We do not accept ICE raids and deportations that harass and separate thousands of families. We actively resist not just DAPL and the Keystone XL Pipeline but also the state-supported capitalist fossil fuel projects that continue illegally on sovereign Indigenous lands designated through nation-to-nation treaties, perpetuate environmental destruction and put communities of color and communities that cannot afford cleanup costs or adequate health care at risk of toxic waste and pollution – as we have seen in Flint, Michigan. We ask that immigrants be seen as humans, not labor. We stand in solidarity with movements like Black Lives Matter and #NoDAPL. We recognize that we are on the homelands of the Cayuga Nation in Ithaca and on the lands of other Indigenous nations no matter where we are on this continent.
Dissent is a political responsibility. The personal is political. This is not a time for insisting on responding to hate “with love.” We cannot be complacent anymore. Now is the time to dissent and resist.