It’s been fascinating to see how the sports world’s sharpest political discourse has come from NBA coaches. Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, even Stan Van Gundy have provided passionate criticisms of President Trump and America’s power structures, and well-articulated summaries of Americans’ grievances, and this isn’t even their day job. (People have called, increasingly less jokingly, for Pop and Kerr to run for office someday.)
Kerr has a special mindset on matters concerning security, like this weekend’s chaotic, sweeping travel ban affecting arrivals from seven Muslim-majority countries in the name of fighting terrorism. In 1984 Kerr’s father, Malcolm Kerr, then the president of the American University of Beirut, was murdered steps from his office. A Jihadist group later claimed responsibility.
(It’s not something Kerr, who was 18 at the time, hides from discussing, but he rarely opens up about it. He did for an absorbing, illuminating New York Times story published last month that I can’t recommend enough.)
Sunday night, after the Warriors’ 113-111 win in Portland, Kerr brought his perspective to the Trump’s hastily conceived and enacted executive order. He is decidedly not in favor.
“I would just say that as someone whose family member was a victim of terrorism, having lost my father, if we’re trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, by really going against the principles of what our country is about and creating fear, it’s the wrong way of going about it. If anything, we could be breeding anger and terror. So I’m completely against what’s happening.
“I think it’s shocking and a horrible idea, and I really feel for all the people who are affected and the families that are being torn apart. I worry in the big picture what this means to the security of the world. He’s going about it completely the opposite; you want to solve terror? You want to solve crime? This is not the way to do it.”
This all seems right to me. We are trapped in an endless war, but the waypoints are fairly clear. Al-Qaeda only became the threat that it did, and only turned its sights on the U.S., after the first Iraq War and the permanent stationing of American troops in the Gulf. Our subsequent military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan directly led to the rise of ISIS. These are obvious causes-and-effects in hindsight, but it feels like we ought to grasp the pattern by now: There’s every reason to believe our ongoing bombing campaigns, and a ban that not only discriminates against specific unsettled regions but denies refuge to people fleeing war zones that we helped create, is only going to fuel the next generation of terrorism, whatever it looks like. Even from a strictly American perspective, this Muslim ban is going to cost more lives than it saves.
But no need to pay attention to me, I’m just a sports blogger. Keep listening to our basketball coaches.