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Is one of the most powerful men in the world, also a notorious racist?
On the 27th of January 2017, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, signed the first executive order denying refugees entry into the country and temporarily barring those coming from 7 Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen (by Michael D. Shear and Helene Cooper). It was a 90 day visa suspension, excluding visa categories such as diplomats and the UN. This was a move to protect the United States from “radical Islamic terrorists”, as Trump declared.
This issue is controversial even until now, but why? I will explore Trump’s faith perspectives and influences from his political ideologies: how they have influenced the signing of this executive order, and why 84% of GOP republican respondents back Trump’s move (by Steven Shepard). On a global scale, I will compare the Singaporean PAP values with Trump’s, uncovering how both democratic nations contrast in faith and political ideologies that impacts its governance. In addition, I shall express my perspectives on this controversial event and state how it is influenced by my own faith and political ideologies.
Trump denies that this travel ban is under the influence of discrimination against the religion of Islam, but is a move needed “very badly, for security” (By Steve Almasy and Darran Simon, CNN), as he put it in an announcement responding to the travel ban ruling. Donald Trump is a republican, meaning his political ideologies lay far-right on the spectrum, making him conservative. This travel ban fits in well with republican ideologies, one of the main ideologies affirming that a strong national defense is vital (by RepublicanViews.org). Despite Trump’s rejection of allegations of him basing this executive order on his personal faith views, what is overseen is how these republican ideologies are derived. Most of these ideologies are influenced by Judeo-Christian ethics, suggesting that Trump’s ban is ultimately influenced by morals learnt from the 10. Commandments – which is what republican ideologies are solely based on (by by Vladimir Minkov).
A study conducted by the Pew Research Centre suggests that 70% of Mormons and 56% of Evangelical Christians, both in the religion of Christianity, in North America are republicans (by Benjamin Wormald), therefore a reason for them to the same republic values as Trump. Trump has many more supporters of the travel ban including the 84% of republicans in the GOP (by Shepard, Steven) which is Trump’s political party, who also believe that the executive order “will make the country safer” (By Steve Almasy and Darran Simon). Yet in this controversial situation, one must take into account the 9% of Republicans in the GOP who strongly disapprove of the ban, despite sharing the same political ideologies as Trump and the republicans of America. For example, Senate Major Leader Mitch McConnell illustrates the travel ban as ‘completely inconsistent’ with America’s values and a few other Senators claim that it is necessary to defend religious liberty (by Makarechi, Kia). Senators Marco Rubio and Tim Scott say, “We [GOP party] are equally committed to the defense of religious liberty and our tradition of providing refuge to those fleeing persecution.”
As mentioned earlier, republicans are predominantly conservatives and nationalists, thus they promote traditional ways of governing. These republicans who oppose Trump’s ban are restricted to follow through with their republican political ideologies due to the evolution of the country and society as a whole. A study shows that in the first half of the 20th century, Republican ideologies have altered, responding to the current trend occurring in society (by the Pew Research Centre). In addition to this social influence, Republicans largely have individualistic views, believing in prioritizing an American individual’s needs above all (by RepublicanViews.org). Therefore, stressing the priority of security for Americans, over the security of a large group of Muslim refugees.
A poll conducted in 2016 suggest that 58% of all Americans believe that diversity will essentially make the nation a better place (by Bruce Drake and Jacob Poushter). Nevertheless, Donald Trump barring a whole religion from entering the country has a significant impact, causing a divide within the developing diversity, hence a barrier for America to grow as diverse nation. However, we need to fathom the complexity of the travel ban. Long before the travel ban the US had issued an economic embargo on several countries included in the travel ban such as Iran, Sudan and Syria (by the University of Pittsburgh). Consequently, while it appears to be a faith based ban by many, it also seems to overlap with the economic reality.
Comparatively, we can take a look at a country half-way across the globe- Singapore. Unlike the United States of America, Singapore is a young and diverse nation that has developed overtime embracing, modern western influences as well as nurturing various different cultures. The Singaporean government, the PAP, has been the dominant political party since 1959 (by Jeffrey Hays), and has had a great impact on how harmonious a nation Singapore is. The party stands centre-right on the political spectrum with its main pillars of ideologies including meritocracy, multiculturalism and communitarianism (by the Richmond Singapore’s strong history has an influence on these ideologies because of the ambitions of the first leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew). Singapore had just gained independence from neighborhood country Malaysia, however left divided in race, ethnicity and religion. As a result of the tragic race riots of 1964 (by the PAP), Lee Kuan Yew was determined to create a nation where individuals regardless of race or religious background, can co-exist. “We are going to have a multiracial nation in Singapore.
We will set the example. This is not a Malay nation; this is not a Chinese nation; this is not an Indian nation. Everybody will have his place: equal; language, culture, religion.”(by the PAP) This passionate belief stuck with him throughout his time as a political leader, and has therefore shaped the ideologies that his party, the People’s Action Party, still obtain to this day. The PAP gives strong significance to Singapore acting for the better of the nation as a whole, therefore providing a strong sense of collectivism. This heavily contrast to the more individualistic approach the GOP republican party have when it comes to their aims of making the United States a greater nation (by www.republicanviews.org).
The government’s strong belief in religious harmony is significant because it influences the laws enforced to maintain it. For instance, the ‘Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act’ states that a restraining order will be put in place against those who incite hatred or hostility between different religious groups. Similarly, the ‘Sedition Act’ prohibits seditious acts or expressions through publications, which fits in with a few of governments’ major pillars of ideologies: communitarianism and multiculturalism (Wikipedia.org).
The PAP’s mission statement to build a fair and just society where the benefits of progress are spread widely to all (by the PAP) underlines how their perspective on all faith and religions are to be seen with equality. It is closely associated with their political ideologies. Acknowledging the fact that some laws, such as the Sedition Act, restricts the level of freedom of speech, contradicts to that in the US. Whereas, the faith and political ideologies of the Singaporean government promise a more diverse and amicable environment for Singaporeans to thrive in.
My initial perspective on this controversial event was that the decision was predominantly based on Trump’s faith perspectives, and to ban the entire religion of Islam from 7 countries was unreasonable. However, I was biased against trump due to my prior knowledge of racist claims made against him and in bigotry if he ever claimed to be “the least racist person” (by David Smith and Kevin Rawlinson). What had influenced my initial response was chiefly the political ideologies of my home country, Singapore. Born and brought up here, the political ideologies and the laws enforced, have greatly shaped my own values; from celebrating World Harmony Day as a child, to following the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act, by not promoting my religion as superior in a hostile manner. As a result, I lay centre-left on the political spectrum, which is comparable to centre-right Singapore. The pair stands near to the centre. Although I am Hindu by religion, my faith perspectives have been influenced by my parent’s open-mindedness. I was always taught that all religions lead us to the same destination and it was easy to be open-minded in a faith-based environment similar to Singapore. I have never had to put down or be put down on the basis of religion under any circumstance. This was my initial faith-based reaction to Mr. Trump’s executive order.
Now, conversely, after investigating wider angles on the issue, my perspectives have changed to see a plausible connection between Trump’s political ideologies and his decision. Acknowledging the fact that most republican views trace back to Judeo-Christian ethics (by Vladimir Minkov), an influence for faith, it is possible for Trump to be the perfect storm for an overlap of faith based ideologies and political ideologies.
The implications this have on my perspectives is that I realize that all controversial issues and decisions have various angles that need to be considered thoroughly and explored. Going forward, I should refrain from taking a position on such issues until I have a full understanding on the subject, and the divergent perspectives within it.
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