Georgetown University student Larry Huang attended one of the Muslim ban protests, marching from the White House to the Supreme Court on January 29th. “I’ve always found it so important to stand in solidarity with everybody, especially people who can’t protest and advocate for themselves,” said Huang. “A peaceful protest is a show of force. It shows that we care and that we’ll keep fighting for these causes.”
Like Huang, Georgetown student Brendan Rooney, who took part in a protest the following weekend at the White House, spoke to the importance of showing solidarity with those affected by the ban. “I attended this protest to contribute to the united front of activists dedicated to demanding that our government do its job and to spreading the word to all those persecuted by Trump’s travel ban that we stand with them,” he said. Rooney felt the protests were essential not only to push for political action, but also because of their message. “It is my belief that by marching together,” Rooney said, “we made a statement to our country and our world that American values of freedom and equality still reign.”
The protests undoubtedly sent a message of support to targets of the Muslim ban, counteracting the exclusionary actions and statements of the Trump administration. But did the protests sway political leaders in any way?
During a conversation hosted by Georgetown University College Democrats on January 31st, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) argued that they did. While discussing the importance of taking political action against the Trump administration, Murphy stated, “Maybe Donald Trump isn’t listening to these protests, but my colleagues are. It’s not coincidental that on Friday, when the Executive Order came out, there were largely crickets from Republicans. Even on Saturday, you didn’t hear much from Republicans. But as the protests over the weekend at the airports, at the White House, began to grow, you started to see more Republicans coming out and either directly or obliquely opposing the Executive Order.”
Trump has generally refrained from publicly acknowledging the Muslim ban protests, but a recent article by Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush of The New York Times suggests that even the president is not immune to the massive crowds who have taken a stand against what they see as an unjust and unconstitutional action. Haberman and Thrush revealed that Trump has indeed been impacted by the protests, saying, “cloistered in the White House, [Trump] now has little access to his fans and supporters — an important source of feedback and validation — and feels increasingly pinched by the pressures of the job and the constant presence of protests.”
Public outrage over the Muslim ban appears to have influenced both Congress and the presidency, and the judiciary soon responded in full force. After courts in multiple states suspended the ban, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court rulings, blocking President Trump from reinstating the ban in its current form. Initially, an all-caps tweet from Trump seemed to suggest that the president and his administration would seek to appeal the ruling; however, in a press conference on February 16th, Trump announced that he would instead “put in a new executive order next week sometime.”
The powerful response from the American people to the Muslim ban reminds us that the government works for all of us. We must continue to speak out against injustice. It is essential for our democracy that dissenting voices are heard by those who are in power.
There is still work to be done. Another ban likely looms on the horizon, as do other actions detrimental to social and economic progress. It may be quite some time before progressive Hoyas can trade back mornings marching on Pennsylvania Avenue for mornings at First Bake, but until that day arrives, we will hold our heads (and our signs) high, proudly fighting for the ideals of tolerance and inclusivity that make our country great.