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home : opinions : opinions August 20, 2017

The Publisher's Pen
Jason Sturek

Travel ban is policy, and policy is people

Policy is people.

In the newspaper business, we have to implement policies that aren’t too different from beauracratic measures. An example might be how we handle whether or not an event deserves a story or an ad is required to publicize it. Some guidelines for staff to apply is very necessary.

The policies are there to help us make consistently fair decisions about how to handle the many gray area things that real life throws at us. At times, explaining a policy to someone that doesn’t quite go their direction can be a combination of stressful and apologetic. We don’t like to disappoint people.

I’m always reminded when a newspaper policy is applied that it affects people in the real world. What begins as a practice in logic at some point involves a face or a voice in opposition.

Which brings me to the real topic of this column — the travel ban recently imposed by the Trump White House that impacts people from seven predominantly Muslim countries. We can debate its logic and its value from a “big picture” perspective as all policy is derived, but no matter how you look at it, never forget that good people are adversely affected. Policy, as I wrote, really is people.

People from countries who have immigrated to this area are impacted, so this national story is also very much a local one. Someone here in northeast Nebraska will eventually be dealt a blow by this executive order, if they haven’t already been.

The very first thing about judging the merits of any policy is to determine what it says, then what it actually means. The balance of national security and human relationships can’t always be satisfied in a way that pleases everyone.

But it’s important that something of this magnitude is debated for a number of reasons. A policy like this one is a reflection of what our nation stands for. Security may ultimately win out, but without some deep reflection on the parts of our citizens and leadership, we could find that this is just the first step on a slippery slope.

In other words, if the nation can find that it tolerates this particular executive order, will it accept further steps or an expanded ban?

I imagine we could find people here in our area with wildly divergent views on this particular issue. I’m reminded, as I always am when I have to tell a customer “no,” that there is always a human being whose personal story stands to be affected by rules that were put in place with little flexibility.

What happens next with regard to this travel ban I think we all ought to keep our eyes on. Some may say a line was already crossed with respect to how this move early on by President Trump reflects what the nation stands for. Regardless of where you stand on that, I happen to believe that there’s a line somewhere that most of us will recognize should not be breached. Being an attentive citizen to that will wipe some of the grease from that potential slope.

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