The internet, in all its magnitude and glory, has largely become a machine for calling out people anytime they screw up. But sometimes, putting someone on the spot requires something a little less virtual.
Writer Winona Dimeo-Ediger has created postcard-size templates of a pair of tweets sent out by Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), who appear to have flip-flopped on President Donald Trump‘s executive order banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
“The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive,” Dimeo-Ediger told the Daily Dot in an email. “I liked the postcard format because it was simple and put Pence and Ryan’s own words front and center. I wanted to confront them with their own hypocrisy, and a postcard seemed like an easy, visually striking way to do that. It felt good to do something tactile after days of calling senators’ offices and signing online petitions.”
Note: It’s not clear which tweets Dimeo-Ediger says Pence and Ryan deleted, as the ones she made available as templates are still online.
A religious test for entering our country is not reflective of America's fundamental values. I reject it. pic.twitter.com/DdsYj2XoLS
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) July 31, 2016
Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.
— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) December 8, 2015
To be fair, there are a few necessary caveats to this situation. First, Ryan has occasionally been an outspoken critic of Trump even though he’s since turned a corner in his relationship with the president. The same goes for Pence, who endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary. In other words, they are politicians, and you could find plenty of examples of this kind of hypocrisy in Washington, D.C., no matter which side of the aisle you look at.
Second, Trump’s executive order may or may not pose an unconstitutional “religious test,” legally speaking. That’s an issue the courts will have to decide. Ryan’s office has argued that it doesn’t. “This is not a religious test and it is not a ban on people of any religion,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong told the Washington Post.
The order puts a halt to the U.S. refugee program for 120 days and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely. It also forbids anyone from seven countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—from entering the U.S. for 90 days.
The populations of all these countries are majority Muslim. However, Trump’s executive order also affects people from these countries who practice other religions, and Muslims from countries not listed in the executive order are not barred entry to the U.S.
That said, Trump fired Sally Yates, an Obama administration appointee who served as acting attorney general until Monday evening because she ordered the Justice Department to not enforce the president’s executive order on the grounds that it may violate the Constitution. And four federal courts have put stays on portions of the executive order, which will now be challenged on its constitutionality.
So, legally, the matter of whether this executive order constitutes a “religious test” is still up in the air. But many will say that’s splitting hairs.
For unnumbered Americans who’ve taken to the streets to protest Trump’s order, Ryan and Pence’s tweets reveal a hypocrisy toward the spirit of the immigration ban—often called a “Muslim ban”—which primarily affects Muslims and aligns with Trump’s campaign proposal for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
And besides, there’s nothing to stop supporters of Trump’s immigration ban from mailing Pence and Ryan their tweets with the words “Good job!” instead.
Dimeo-Ediger says she’s sent out some 50 cards so far and plans to send out more each day.
“I’m not expecting any response from Pence and Ryan, but hopefully they take note of the large-scale protests happening all over the country and realize it’s not too late to do the right thing,” she says. “It’s been heartening to see this huge wave of people fighting back against injustice in so many creative ways.”
Update 12:30pm CT, Jan. 31: Added comment from Dimeo-Ediger.