What is the social justice topic of greatest import in the age of Trump? I’m at my computer, researching and reading, before starting to write:
“When Donald J. Trump posted a meme of himself hitting a golf ball into Hillary Clinton, he thought it amusing to provoke violence against his former political opponent, a woman, a former First Lady of the United States, a New York State Senator, and a United States Secretary of State. When Martin Shkreli, the jailed pharmaceutical executive and criminal, posted on Facebook, ‘On H.R.C.’s book tour, try to grab a hair from her. Will pay $5,000 per hair obtained from Hillary Clinton,’ he incited assault.”
One paragraph into a social justice essay on dangerous sexism and misogyny in our culture, I realized that both instances of the provocation to assault a woman involve politics of hate and unfair economics, as well as attempts to hide corrupt, even criminal, dealings through attacks as diversion. Everything seems interwoven in the age of Trump. One clear line of argument appears tremendously difficult to maintain. Trump has become so ubiquitous, I keep hearing his voice, his actual crazy words, in asides. Yes, those are really his words in quotations that following the listing of legitimate grievances. I’m drawn to other headlines in the news involving:
Attacks on black Americans and their basic rights, including the right to vote: During a campaign rally, Trump turned and pointed before saying, “Look at my African American.” He also said in confusing reference to African Americans: “Crime all of the problems to the African Americans who I employ so many of.” He has the whitest administration since Ronald Reagan. Trump has gone after African Americans throughout his campaign and subsequent presidency, trying to get an ESPN black commentator fired, trying to get black NFL players fired, demeaning black Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, accusing her of lying and calling her “wacky,” among others, etc.
Attacks on LGBT rights and liberties through his AG Jeff Sessions, except far-right mouthpiece Milo Yiannopoulos, who has publicly defended adult men having sex with little boys: Trump’s surrogate Michael Flynn said of Yiannopoulos, “He is a phenomenal individual.” When UC Berkley threatened to block Milo’s event on campus, Trump threatened to withhold Federal funding for the university.
Attacks on Muslim Americans: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” “They’re trying to take over our children.”
Attacks on Mexican Americans: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” “They burned the American flag and laughed at police.”
More subtle and careful attacks on Jewish Americans while Trump supported white supremacists who have carried Nazi flags. “Very fine people on both sides,” Trump said, referring to the neo-Nazis carrying swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans after a young woman was killed by a white supremacist in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Attacks on clean air and water protections: “Pollution is actually much better now,” he said as he signed Executive Orders destroying clean air and water protections.
Dismantling public education: With campaign contributor Betsy DeVos, Trump and his Secretary of Education have rolled back Obama-era Title IX rules, put new hurdles into investigations of campus sexual assault, loosened rules related to students’ civil rights violations; revoked protections for transgender and special needs students, in addition to the march to defund public schools in their push for for-profit education.
Sabotaging climate science on global warming: “A lot of it’s a hoax, and I want to use hair spray. It’s a hoax invented by the Chinese.”
Sabotaging peace negotiations around the world.
Sabotaging our democratic election process: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily” “The election is going to be rigged.” [Well, that one was true but not in the way he presented.]
Advocating for the madness of increasing our nuclear arsenal: “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability”
Economic attacks on the middle class and those living in abject poverty
Economic attacks on our Federal Budget through gross expenditures by the Trump
administration, including former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s
$500,000 military jet scandal: “I feel very badly; Secretary Price is a good man.”
Failure to adequately assist natural disaster victims without food, water, or electricity in Puerto Rico: “They had these beautiful, soft towels. Very good towels. And they were screaming and they were loving everything. And I was having fun, they were having fun. They said, ‘Throw ’em to me! Throw ’em to me.’”
Unequal justice based on color of skin and economics
Verbal assaults on the American citizens who are victims of Hurricane Maria and the Mayor of San Juan: “nasty. They want everything done for them.”
Verbal assaults on War Widow Myeshia Johnson (who happens to be a black American): “your guy,” “knew what he signed up for.”
Assault on our Civil Liberties
Assault on our Civility and Rational Discourse: “She got scholonged.” “You’re a sleaze.” “She’s the devil.” “Pocahontas,” referring to Senator Warren. “Little Marco.”
Assaults on honesty and facts: “I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.”
Assaults on our Courts and Justices, including Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, first calling him “Spanish” then “Hispanic,” recommending he be removed from hearing the Trump University fraud case.
Assaults on intelligence: “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.”
Assault on our mainstream media and democratic cornerstone in freedom of the press: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @CNN, @NBCNews and many more) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people. SICK!”
Assault on our First Amendment rights: “If you see somebody saying something, knock the crap out of ’em, would you? Seriously. OK? Just knock the hell—I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”
Assaults on the Arts and Humanities
Assault on humanity: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.
“Don’t tell me it doesn’t work—torture works.”
Packing the Courts with Political Ideologues
Attempts to dismantle Health Care law and Medicare/Medicaid
Dismantling our stabilizing institutions in government
Fiscal Irresponsibility of the GOP-controlled Congress, trying to please Trump: “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.” We now know who is paying for that horrendous wall—the American people.
Hypocrisy and lies on top of hypocrisy and lies: “The doctor said, ‘Man you have the blood pressure of a great, great, athlete who is 20 years old.’ 110, I like that, because I like being a great athlete.”
“I will give you everything…I’m the only one.”
“I was the one that really broke the glass ceiling on behalf of women.”
“Hillary wants to abolish the Second Amendment.”
“He is the founder of ISIS,” [speaking of President Obama]
Sabotaging all that was right and good in the country before Trump took office,
or rather, stole the office.
Raping of America, her values, her democracy, her standing in the world, her hope and
prosperity, by Trump Administration and Putin/Bannon puppet masters
Those last two in the list are particularly important and apt topics because they address all of topics that came before them. However, writing about such wide-ranging assaults on everything decent and of value in America is highly problematic, simply in terms of staying on focus in order to be effective in response.
That is, of course, the Trump/Bannon/Putin goal. If everything is under attack, the responses to these assaults tend to be disorganized, slow, and highly ineffective. Whether this is Vladimir Putin’s strategy or Steve Bannon’s is almost irrelevant because both are master propagandists working to disrupt and destroy democracies and institutions of peace. While Trump is their very useful tool of choice, he has been a particularly charismatic one, without any moral or ethical compass, a man who was able to rally Americans to scream, “lock her up” about his political opponent, the way they do in collapsing countries, both before and AFTER his “election” to our highest office.
Did Trump really say all of those things? Yes, he did, and so many more heinous statements and acts that it would take book to elaborate on them all. While any one of them would likely have ended another presidential campaign or presidency, Trump has proven he can get away with anything.
Overwhelmed? Don’t be. We have a choice, however. All is not yet lost. Maybe it comes down to one statement: do not give up.
We’ll follow that statement with, RESIST. WRITE. PROTEST. MARCH. READ. BE INFORMED. CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES. INFORM OTHERS. MEET WITH OTHERS TO COORDINATE EFFORTS. JOIN the DEMOCRATIC PARTY or JOIN INDIVISIBLE. WORK TOGETHER FOR THE COMMON GOOD. SET ASIDE YOUR PERSONAL PREFERENCES FOR THE COMMON GOOD. CONTRIBUTE TO DOWNBALLOT CAMPAIGNS. CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES. DO NOT GIVE UP or GIVE IN. REPEAT. RESIST. COMMUNICATE. SHOUT. TAKE ACTION. MARCH. CALL ATTENTION TO. RESIST. RESIST. RESIST.
Nancy Avery Dafoe, continuing to resist