In these churning days of American politics, under scrutiny is the very essence of our nation’s exceptionalism: freedom to escape inhumane conditions and reinvent oneself on America’s soil. President Trump’s order to ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries undercuts this historical guarantee and by extension U.S. leadership in the world today.
While there are precedents of such drastic actions—Chinese exclusion in the nineteenth century, Japanese American internment in the 1940s—the legacy of these policies have not fared well in history books. Indeed, such exclusionary measures betray America’s promise as a safe haven for the persecuted.
In the current climate, one would do well to dwell on the words and actions of John F.…