Our government has a responsibility to defend our borders, but we must do so in a way that makes us safer and upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation. It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump’s executive order was not properly vetted. I am particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security. Such a hasty process risks harmful results. * We should not stop green-card holders from returning to the country they call home. * We should not stop those who have served as interpreters for our military and diplomats from seeking refuge in the country they risked their lives to help. * And we should not turn our backs on those refugees who have been shown through extensive vetting to pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children. Ultimately, I fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism. At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. 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 I fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.
My flight last night coming home from Washington to Greenville was cancelled. I was tired, frustrated and like every other passenger, just ready to get home. So this morning I returned to the airport, boarded the plane and sat by an Army Captain from South Carolina, D.J. Fredericks, who is doing his residency at Walter Reed Hospital. He told me when he was 7 years old he had been seriously injured in a car accident. He decided he wanted to be a doctor to help people. He also wanted to serve his country. By random chance it turns out his mother is Denise Fredericks, Principal of Townville Elementary School. D.J. was returning home to be with his mom during these difficult times. Before taking off, I had the opportunity to speak with Denise. She was full of praise for her teachers, the school nurse who acted heroically in helping those who were shot, and how awesome volunteer firefighter Jamie Brock was. She constantly stressed how proud she was of her teachers, students, and how much she was praying for their recovery. She had visited Jacob Hall, the most seriously wounded of the three victims, and asked that I and others pray for him as well. I told her that I would definitely pray for his recovery and I’m sure that every person of faith in South Carolina was doing likewise. She told me they had just practiced – last Friday – a drill involving a shooter. I could tell from her voice she was shaken and heart-broken, but also grateful and proud. All she wanted to talk about was the heroic actions of others. I wanted her to know that her leadership and compassion made her every bit a Hero in our eyes as well. There is a lot of tragedy in the world but also a lot of good. All the teachers, school nurses, firefighters, and others who responded to yesterday’s events – as well as people like D.J. serving our nation in uniform -- represent the good in our world. We should all be very thankful for them. And for one of the few times in my life, I can say I’m glad my flight was cancelled.
Really enjoyed a round of golf with President Donald J. Trump today. President Trump shot a 73 in windy and wet conditions! How bad did he beat me? I did better in the presidential race than today on the golf course! Great fun. Great host.