The Jury Talks Back

7/3/2018

U.S. President Donald Trump: It Is Bad to Have U.S. Citizens from Iran

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:59 am

The President of the United States tweeted this early this morning:

The first thing to realize here is that it’s unclear whether it’s actually true. President Trump has a habit of proclaiming the truth of things he sees on the teevee, even when he has access to actual governmental information that could confirm or deny the teevee allegations. (Remember his false tweets about how Obama wiretapped him, for example.) A Fox News report emerged in the last 24 hours making the accusation about the 2500 Iranian immigrants — and the story seems to be based on the as-yet unsubstantiated allegations of “a senior cleric and member of parliament” in Iran named Hojjat al-Islam Mojtaba Zolnour. I suspect this report ended up on the Fox News network, and our Cable News Watcher in Chief pounced.

Is Zolnour telling the truth? I have no idea. The Washington Times reports:

“This sounds like totally made-up B.S.,” said Marie Harf, a former State Department spokeswoman who now works for Fox News.

The current State Department said in a statement to Fox News: “We’re not going to comment on every statement by an Iranian official.”

Moreover, the numbers don’t appear to reflect any particular bump in either green cards or citizenship for Iranians during this period. According to the Fox News story:

Though Zolnour did not mention anyone by name during the interview, several children of current and former Iranian officials live in the United States, including Ali Fereydoun, whose father Hossein Fereydoun is the brother of and special aide to Rouhani; and Fatemeh Ardeshir Larijani, whose father Ali Larijani is speaker of parliament.

There is no suggestion either of these people received citizenship in the wake of the Iranian nuclear deal. It’s also unclear if Zolnour meant citizenship or a green card.

In 2015, 13,114 people born in Iran were issued green cards, while 13,298 were issued one in 2016, according to figures from the Department for Homeland Security. In 2015, 10,344 Iranians became naturalized, with a further 9,507 in 2016.

But putting aside the question of the tweet’s truth, there seems to be no plausible way to read Trump’s tweet other than as a bigoted rejection of Iranian citizens. When I raised this issue on Twitter, Trump defenders told me that certainly the Iranians admitted would have been the bad ones that the Ayatollah didn’t want. (There is no evidence of that, of course, but a certain species of Trump supporter doesn’t require evidence to defend Trump.) But even if we accepted the notion that the 2500 (if they exist) were chosen for being antithetical to the views of the Ayatollah, that could easily mean that they were among the least fundamentalist and Islamist of possible emigres. And indeed, according to the Fox News report, Zolnour, the cleric making the accusation, said the new immigrants were undermining Iran’s interests:

He estimated that between 30 and 60 were studying in the U.S. while the rest of them were working in the country “against our national interests.”

He’s talking about Iran’s interests, not ours. Wouldn’t those be the most desirable of Iranian immigrants, and not the least?

No, it seems that the real problem here for Trump is that we admitted people from Iran. And apparently Trump thinks that Iran is bad and therefore U.S. citizens who come from Iran are bad.

And this is both ignorant and bigoted. The Iranian immigrants I know are among the most patriotic people I’ve ever met. Keep in mind that after 9/11, the citizens of Tehran supported the United States:

In Iran, vast crowds turned out on the streets and held candlelit vigils for the victims. Sixty-thousand spectators respected a minute’s silence at Tehran’s football stadium.

When the President of the United States puts out a statement that suggests that it’s a bad thing to have U.S. citizens who hail from Iran, he sends a message to U.S. citizens here who come from Iran: you are not welcome. It is a bad thing that you are here.

In short, this tweet makes President Donald J. Trump look like a real asshole.


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