President Trump’s ban on various people entering the US doesn’t affect me. I have been banned from entering the country since 2006, just after my first-hand account of the Iraq invasion, A War Against Truth, was published. I had been invited to a peace conference at the University of Colorado, Boulder, campus, and was told at US Customs in Toronto that I was inadmissible. No reason given by the Homeland Security official who went off with my passport until the flight I was due to catch had left. Since 1969, I had freely entered the USA, often spending months there. My literary agent was in New York, as was my publisher at that time. These arguments had no effect, although the official refused to state why I was inadmissible, saying he was not obliged to do so. Subsequently, I deduced that there was something in my book that severely aggravated the Pentagon, for neo-conservative cabals in Canada and the US waged a concerted war on my war against truth, eventually coming up with a flimsy argument accusing me of plagiarism. It was just a few sentences that I confessed were merely the result of shoddy note-taking in a war-zone, but it was enough for my gutless – or perhaps complicit – publisher to pulp the book, destroying over two years’ work and much of my career. It is still available on Amazon, however, but the loss of my eyesight prevented me from fighting the issue for many years. It did teach me, though, that there are powers with which one cannot easily contend. What was it that so offended elements of the US Government? I think it was documented evidence given in the book proving that the US Military in Iraq were using cluster-bombs in which the bomblets scattered were disguised as childrens’ toys. It’s not difficult to see that this would be hard to explain to the American public. I am still banned from entering the country, and will probably always be banned – these orders are nearly impossible to get rescinded.
America has a long history of banning undesirables, however. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act kept out Chinese nationals for petty reasons. Long considered the harshest act of its kind, it still permitted the admission of students, academics and persons with business commitments. But, as with later bans – the Phillipinos, the east European Jews, the Japanese – there was blowback. In 1905, the Chinese government issued a boycott of all US goods in the country. Similar reactions were caused by other bans, but the real effect was on US global prestige. The nation claiming exceptionalism does not enhance its claim by exclusionalism – not to mention the oxymoronic nature of exceptionalism, which states that we are exceptional and you should be like us.
I promised to avoid commenting on the kakristocracy forming down in Washington, so I will restrain myself to one thought. As amusing as Trump and his cohorts’ “alternative facts” may be to the media, we ought not to forget that his base takes them seriously. Such people hear a few times that the media are covering up terrorist attacks, and they believe it. Why they believe the lyging media that tell them this is another question. America has the least-well-educated population in the western world – and herein lies the problem. Propganda only works on those who do not perceive it as propaganda, where a lie repeated becomes the truth. If I were an editor or an executive producer of news programming, I would be very careful about printing or broadcasting any statement issued by the White House before it was thoroughly fact-checked and vetted. To not do so is pouring gasoline on this already-raging fire.
Paul William Roberts