A Marine Corps veteran and contractor told Fox News on Friday he couldn't believe that his video from Iraq supporting President Trump's travel restrictions went viral -- more than 44 million views and counting.
Lance Corporal Steven Gern, 42, who worked as a contractor in Iraq starting in 2005, posted his video on February 1, and told Fox News he was evacuated from Iraq the next day because of it.
In the video, Gern said he had spoken to a group of Iraqi men about the travel ban, without getting into specifics. "My simple question was, 'As an American, if I went out in town right now, would I be welcome?' And they instantly said, 'Absolutely not, you would not be welcome.' And I said, 'OK, so what would happen if I went out of town?' And they said the locals would snatch me up and kill me within an hour."
Gern said his company's security director pulled him from the country due to the CEO’s concern for Gern’s safety. He did not disclose the name of the company in an effort to keep co-contractors currently in Iraq out of danger.
“I never thought in a million years that this would go viral, and happen over a simple conversation with my team members,” Gern told Fox News. “There are a lot of unknowns right now and what we don’t need is to continue to flood the United States with people from countries that are in such bad states when it comes to terrorism—we can’t have them come in until they are properly vetted.”
Gern said the tension and danger for Americans abroad has ramped up since the travel ban started in President Trump’s second week in office. It restricts travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq.
“The Iraqis, in general, have very little respect for any America –regardless of whether you’re a Marine, a contractor, or a civilian—they have very little respect for you,” Gern told Fox News. “The United States pumps more and more money and it’s not appreciated –why don’t we just take care of our own?”
Gern told Fox News he has not had contact with his company, and is concerned about losing his job after posting the video, but felt it was necessary.
“This is boots on the ground—this is what’s actually happening—I know firsthand,” Gern told Fox News. “People are being naive—they need to understand there is a reason we have processes and policies in place to protect Americans.”