Trump’s Muslim Ban & the Oscars

This past weekend, Donald Trump signed a deliberately hateful and ignorant document into law, making racism and Islamophobia national policy. Critics derided it as giphy (1).gifUnAmerican, and yet it was America who voted this buffoon into presidency just a few short months ago. In the face of one man’s cowardly discrimination, however, were many more acts of love and fraternity. American citizens stormed airports with signs of welcome and solidarity. Lawyers littered the floors working pro-bono around the clock. And a group of actors at the SAG-ACTRA awards used their acceptance speeches to give voice to millions of people who say: Not my America.

Over the next 90 days, visas will not be issued to nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Existing visas will not be honoured. People who boarded planes intending to legally enter the country, even those with green cards, were detained for hours, questioned, and deported.

In the face of this injustice, it seems almost petty to talk about the Oscars, but since this is a movie review site, this is what we will do.

Asghar Farhadi is the Oscar-winning director of A Separation; it made awards history in giphy (3).gif2012 when it was the first Iranian film to win an Oscar. This year he has toured the festivals with The Salesman, and won Best Screenplay at Cannes. Iran submitted it to be considered in the foreign film category at the Academy Awards and it won a nomination. Asghar Farhadi will not be allowed to attend the ceremony because of Trump’s “Muslim ban.” This is who his ban keeps out – not terrorists, but people who come here to work, to study, to visit friends and family.

The star of The Salesman, Taraneh Alidoosti, one of the most acclaimed actresses in her country, will boycott the Oscars in order to protest Trump’s racist ban. “I decided not to go even if I could, because it hurts me deeply to see ordinary people of my country being rejected for what might be their legal right to have access to their children abroad or to their school classes as students,” Ms. Alidoosti told The New York Times in an interview.

In a statement, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said it was “extremely troubling” that Mr. Farhadi and the cast and crew of “The Salesman,” could be “barred from entering the country because of their religion or country of origin.” I’d say that’s a bit of an understatement.

Meanwhile, Asghar Farhadi had this to say on the subject: “I hereby express my condemnation of the unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the giphy (5).gifcitizens of the other six countries trying to legally enter the United States of America and hope that the current situation will not give rise to further divide between nations,” Farhadi said. He’s not the only one with this fear on his mind: “Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security” [italics are mine]. It wasn’t Bernie Sanders or Obama who said that, it was a joint statement from two Republican senators, John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

It isn’t just Farhadi who will be affected by this ban come February 26th  (Oscar broadcast).

The filmmakers behind The White Helmets, a film about Syrian volunteer first responders in that country’s bloody civil war, had planned on bringing two representatives of that group to the ceremony, but Trump’s travel ban – which impacts Syria – will prevent that from happening. The White Helmets, mind you, have been nominated for a goddamned Nobel Peace Prize, and yet Trump sees fit to keep these heroes out. Producer Johanna Natasegara said in a statement “These people are the bravest humanitarians on the planet, and the idea that they could not be able to come with us and enjoy that success is just abhorrent.”

giphy-4The Syrian family at the heart of Watani: My Homeland, another short documentary up for an Academy Award, is also unable to attend the Oscars due to the travel ban, even though they are now German citizens. But movies and stories like this, and Fire At Sea, which tell the human story of refugees are even more vital at a time like this. Watani director Marcel Mettelsiefen said “We must reconnect with the common humanity of the refugee experience and we must all remember that the founding story of America is dependent upon people who have fled war, hunger and poverty in search of a better life.”

I think this whole notion that somehow we can just say no more Muslims, just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in. I mean, religious freedom has been a very important part of our history and where we came from.” These words were not spoken by “overrated” actress Meryl Streep but by Dick Cheney, who was vice president at the time of the 9-11 attacks.

Muslims are our friends, neighbours, and colleagues. They may serve you street food from a food truck or treat you in your local emergency room. They’re also in movies, sometimesgiphy (2).gif entertaining us, sometimes helping to tell urgently important stories. Oscar-nominated (and best supporting actor heir presumptive) Mahershala Ali is Muslim (Moonlight, Hidden Figures). Rogue One’s Riz Ahmed is Muslim. So are Dave Chapelle, Ice Cube,  Mos Def, Amal Clooney, Omar Epps, Janet Jackson, Aziz Ansari, Ellen Burstyn, Muhammad Ali, Shaq, Kareem, and some of my favourite members of the Wu-Tang Clan. Muslims are not terrorists. Muslims are terrorized by terrorists, who use any reason, including religion (including Christianity) to do evil.

giphyTaraneh Alidoosti, an actress known to very few over here in the west, is boycotting the Oscars. Wouldn’t it really mean something if others did as well? If the Oscars had to broadcast hundreds of empty seats, each tagged with the name of a celebrity who didn’t come because the thought of Trump’s America was so unpalatable that it’s better to stay home than to schmooze and be lauded by one’s colleagues? If they stood in solidarity with fellow film makers who are just as deserving but are prohibited from celebrating just because of their religion? Now that’s a story worth telling; let’s continue to take part in it.





42 thoughts on “Trump’s Muslim Ban & the Oscars

      1. kmSalvatore

        there would never b a revote..
        . hopefully hell just drop dead form one more fastfood cheseburger..but im sure He’ll be impreached at some point..well im praying for one of these things to happen any way


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  2. Jay Post author

    Actor Kal Penn (Kumar, of Harold & Kumar has raised over $600,000 for Syrian refugees in the name of an Internet commenter who said Penn didn’t “belong in the country.”

    Penn hit pause on his Hollywood career to serve as the White House associate director of public engagement for Barack Obama.

    “To the dude who said I don’t belong in America, I started a fundraising page for Syrian Refugees in your name,” he tweeted, along with a screenshot of an Instagram comment that read, “because you don’t belong in this country you f—ing joke.”

    The campaign, entitled “Donating to Syrian Refugees in the name of the dude who said I don’t belong in America,” has seen an influx of cash, with donations made under names like “Chief Strategist Steve Bannon,” “#Saynotobigotry,” “Tiny Trump Hands,” “Paul Ryan’s Lost Testicles,” “Mike Pence,” and “Donald ClownfaceVonfuckstick Trump”.

    With a modest goal of $2500, the campaign has earned three quarters of a million dollars as of the time of this comment.

    If you are so inclined:

    Liked by 8 people

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  4. Christopher

    I’ve heard it suggested that when Trump visits Britain people lining up along the streets and simply turning their backs on him would speak more loudly than any protest. He thrives on noise regardless of whether it’s anger or adulation but can’t handle silence.
    Empty seats at the Oscars would be a fantastic way to send a message.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kmSalvatore

      oh Jay..Please be careful when you say America voted that bafoon into office . thats like saying all of Canada voted that other Bafoon into office in Toronto as the Mayor.
      i could go on and on, all we as Americans can do is stand up and be counted,and get Him the hell out of office. and im sure the people who actually did vote Him in will soon realize..they made the biggest mistake of their rotten lives.
      my Grandfather was an immigrant… America was built on Immigants. im afraid to tun on the news but i know i must, Trump and Bannon need to go!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. J.

    Dark times. I said elsewhere that it’s encouraging to see there are some leaders willing to stand up and criticise Trump. Sadly the UK’s Government isn’t among them.

    I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but the unrest the guy’s creating (and will no doubt continue to create) can’t be ignored.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. J.

        Completely agree. By not doing so, I guess they’re kinda saying it’s okay. You can’t build a relationship with a Government that has these ideals. Its ludicrous and, worse, dangerous.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Liz A.

    It wasn’t a law. It was an executive order. That’s blatantly unconstitutional on its face.

    Hillary won the popular vote. By a lot. The Electoral College, which was created to keep this from happening, failed. We need to work on repealing that puppy.

    Boycotting the Oscars plays into the predator-in-chief’s hands. Hollywood has been very vocal in its opposition to him. He’s been shooting back. Punishing Hollywood for his actions will only embolden him.

    Isn’t it amazing what fear in the hands of the willfully ignorant can do?


  7. ruth

    As an immigrant myself, this is definitely a dark, scary times in America. But yeah, I’m comforted by the acts of love and kindness that I am seeing from people who sees this as a blatant injustice against humanity.


    1. Jay Post author

      Our countries are both founded on immigrants. In Canada we rely on immigration for our country’s growth, but lots of Muslim Canadians have been here for generations. It’s crazy to even consider the impact of barring an entire religion, and thinking how much poorer we’d be for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Jay Post author

    Hala is the subject of the Oscar-nominated short do Watani: My Homeland. A Syrian refugee now living in Germany, she and her children were celebrated at World Humanitarian Day at the UN in NYC but now she is banned from entering the US to attend the Oscars ceremony.
    The film’s director, Mettelsiefen, has condemned the ban, saying in a statement: “This travel ban from President Trump is another devastating blow to refugees who have already suffered so much. As Trump seeks to demonize refugees and Muslim people in general, films such as Watani: My Homeland, which tell the human story of refugees, become ever more important. We must reconnect with the common humanity of the refugee experience and we must all remember that the founding story of America is dependent upon people who have fled war, hunger and poverty in search of a better life.”


  9. Jay Post author

    Director Asghar Farhadi has issued a statement saying he would not accept exceptions if they were made for him in order to attend the ceremony, and will opt to stay in his home country instead.

    “I regret to announce via this statement that I have decided to not attend the Academy Awards ceremony alongside my fellow members of the cinematic community,” he said. “It now seems that the possibility of this presence is being accompanied by ifs and buts which are in no way acceptable to me even if exceptions were to be made for my trip.”


  10. Jay Post author

    The American Film Institute’s statement:

    “Asghar Farhadi has served as Artist-in-Residence for the past two years at the AFI Conservatory, and his classes had a profound impact upon the 250 young men and women who attend AFI from around the world,” the organization said in a statement. “The AFI Conservatory stands with artists and filmmakers who find the power of creation through freedom of expression and freedom of movement. We believe any form of censorship — including the restriction of travel — to be against all values we cherish as a community of storytellers. We look forward to welcoming Mr. Farhadi back to AFI in the fall.”


  11. In My Cluttered Attic

    What America has stood for is being eroded by this commanding buffoon in office, but the real courage of America is being shown by the people who are out there voicing there displeasure with this idiots tyranny. Republicans are going to pay a huge price for this stand by and let it happen grab for power stance. The Oscars will be quite a night for the voices of most Americans (the popular vote still sticks in this guys craw) and those who’s wish to be Americans, but who’s rights are being denied by a shallow and small minded minority led by Trumpty Dumpty—wait and see. ‘O)


  12. laura kilty

    Empty seats at the Oscars would be an amazing way to protest! I am so heartened to see people like yourself speaking out and to see and be part of all the coming together in protest by so many here. Gives me hope! I demand a re-vote dammit- and for the UK for their Brexit vote, poor buggers. When we know fraud has taken place, re-votes need to be in the democratic process… Anyways, great post Jay, thank you for it!


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  14. Chandler Baker

    Great article, Jay! I think the biggest takeaway of the Oscars and the people who chose to speak on behalf of Trump’s Immigration Ban is solidarity within many people in this country and that is what the Oscars are about. Celebrities have gathered like this each year to celebrate each other and come together in unity. The most important thing I took out of this article was not only how many people are willing to share their voice on the issue, but also how calm, cool and collected many of them were while they spoke of the safety and happiness of this nation.



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