President Donald Trump's now-infamous executive order on immigration, which has banned travel into the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries, has pretty much divided our nation since it was signed into action on Friday, Jan. 27. Yet somehow, in the midst of uncertainty and fear, a single Disney meme has managed to sum up the state of our country. It's not uncommon for people, especially people on the internet, to use pop culture as a way to understand and deal with the real-life horrors of the world. But I have to say that this meme is perfectly on point.
In the animated fairytale, Aladdin, it's clear that both Aladdin and Princess Jasmine are of Arab descent. The love story takes place in the fictional city of Agrabah — a city which is based on Baghdad, Iraq, one of the main countries targeted in Trump's ban. In the wildly popular film, Aladdin takes the princess on a magic carpet ride around the world in an effort to court her and show her how much he has to offer her if she would only return his feelings for her.
The tragedy of this image — and the point of the meme — is that such a trip in the real-world is, sadly, no longer as possible in light of the new regulations imposed on the mostly-Muslim countries.
As I've watched in confusion, sad photos of countless families being held up in airports have made their way onto the internet and onto our televisions. The Aladdin meme sends a clear message that both children and adults alike can understand. It lends an uncomplicated prospective to the disturbing images of people — including children — being excluded and deported for where they come from and what they believe. And to use a beloved Disney image and reference an iconic moment to do it serves another purpose, to show how even pop culture and the innocence of our childhood memories can't, and shouldn't, remain untouched or unexamined in this new reality.
The pure insanity of the immigrant order and the enforcement of it has taken me far over the brink of my emotional threshold, at this point. I've literally teetered back and forth between anger and sorrow on a daily basis, as I can't do anything but feel helpless and fearful for the fate of our country. As we all continue to attempt to understand the impact of this ban that has affected more than an estimated 90,000 people traveling from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia, a small childhood memory of Aladdin and Princess Jasmine seeking a "whole new world" may, perhaps, help keep things into perspective.
If nothing else, it reminds us of the awful struggle that so many are currently facing while allowing us to hold out hope for a "happily ever after."