I Am Ashamed!

As a longtime reporter and journalism educator, I am ashamed of my profession as a result of the bias of the media toward the new immigration policies.

From the coverage, you couldn’t believe that 57 percent of those polled agree with the temporary ban on immigrants from seven countries, according to Rasmussen Reports. Only 33 percent oppose Trump’s executive order, while 10 percent are undecided.

The news media are in a full-tilt smackdown of Trump’s policies, underlining the administration’s notion that journalists are indeed the opposition.

For example, a CNN “news” report compares the executive order to the Alien and Seditions Acts, the Japanese internment camps and McCarthyism.

I address the following to the senior correspondent, Stephen Collinson, who apparently knows little about history, and others who have picked up the meme:

–Only a handful of people were not allowed into the United States.
–Green card holders are not affected.
–The ban is temporary for between 90 and 120 days.

The Alien and Sedition Acts existed during the presidency of John Adams. They allowed the government to toss people out of the country. More important, the main complaint about the acts was the ability to close down newspapers run by Adams’ opponents.

More than 100,000 Japanese and other aliens were interned during World War II by that champion of the Democrats: FDR.

While I do not condone Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s tactics, Soviet records confirmed that massive incidents of espionage occurred in the United States, including the placement of Russian spies into U.S. government positions.

An ABC journalist posted his personal views on Facebook about the terrible stuff that was happening while he was covering the immigration story at JFK. He did not respond to my question about whether he was a reporter or an advocate.

But there’s more. Philly.com, the host for the newspapers in Philadelphia, described the protestors at the local airport as a huge crowd. There were 200 people!

CNN’s sob stories start with a woman whose friend can’t make it to a wedding and goes downhill from there.

The Huffington Post had a column calling for the president’s impeachment. Seriously?

Hundreds of lawyers reportedly descended on airports to “help” people who were stuck in immigration, according to The Washington Post. The number of lawyers would greatly outnumber those who had temporary problems. As of this writing, no one was being held in immigration in the United States.

And, if you missed it, people were protesting against Uber for taking advantage of the immigration changes. That’s right, boys and girls, all of those immigrants who drive for Uber were not properly showing their solidarity with their comrades. That one is really hard to get my head around.

Having had the opportunity to travel to more than 60 countries during my lifetime, I have experienced the trials and tribulations of immigration laws throughout the world.

Egypt and Iraq expelled me for my reporting in those countries. Iran officials detained me during the hostage crisis because I was an American. My team faced expulsion in Ethiopia for leaving our hotel without a government guide. I was interrogated in France because immigration officials thought I was carrying explosive material in my luggage.

When I taught in Russia and Poland, I had to go through an elaborate visa process. I violated the immigration policies of Italy and the United Kingdom when I taught there because I stayed on a tourist visa.

For the past three years, I have taught in China. I needed to have an official letter from the university in order to obtain a visa.

I don’t begrudge any of these countries for the actions they took, although the Egyptians and Iraqis may have been a bit extreme. A nation has an obligation to protect its citizens from economic and political threats.

Having worked in the Arab world for nearly a decade, I think it would be difficult for anyone to call me an Islamophobe. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that nowhere in the U.S. Constitution is there a right for foreigners to come to the United States as anything other than guests.

Despite the kerfuffle by hand-wringing demonstrators, few people were actually affected by the temporary–yes, that’s temporary–immigration policies. Homeland Security officials said that about 100 people who were already in transit to the United States when the order was signed were denied access; less than 200 were stopped before boarding planes heading to America.

If I heard a country had changed its policies, I don’t think I would get on a plane until I consulted with the embassy. Moreover, I probably would have used my visa on or about Jan. 19.

Finally, I recall when Jimmy Carter banned Iranians from traveling to the United States in 1979. Few people demonstrated against him or called him a racist. But he was a Democrat. That apparently makes all the difference.

The hysteria and the hyperbole really have to stop. But that’s probably not going to happen in a media world run amok.


Christopher Harper worked for The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times. He teaches journalism.