Monday, January 30, 2017

A Few Thoughts on Trump's First Week

The Immigration Ban

I'll spare you a diatribe about how awful this is, or an appeal to America's melting pot identity, or a sad description of crying and dying children. All that stuff is true, but you can get it elsewhere.

Instead, let me just say this: Trump and his team are not stupid. They know good and well this ban is unconstitutional and will be struck down faster than you can grab a pussy. They also knew it would create chaos at airports.

The purpose of this little exercise is twofold.

First, it's the fulfillment of a campaign promise. "I said I'd do it, and I did. Who cares if it's illegal."

Second, and far more importantly, it's the Trump administration's way of saying to the Muslim world beyond our borders: "Muslims are no longer welcome here in our Christian country." Of course the ban doesn't apply to all Muslims, but that doesn't matter. The message is loud, clear, and intentional.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Lost to some degree among all the furor of the immigration ban was Trump's official statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Notably, he failed to mention Jews. Now, no official presidential statement would accidentally forget to mention Jewish people on Holocaust Remembrance Day.  No, mention of the Jews was left out on purpose.


Simple.  It's because Trump's chief advisor, Steve Bannon formerly ran a far right news outlet that routinely printed anti-Semitic writings and advertised itself as the news source of the "alt-right," which is a trendy name for good old-fashioned right-wing extremism.

These right wing extremists love Israel, because they believe its existence is necessary for the second coming of Jesus, but they don't like Jews, particularly American Jews. And they don't like American Jews because they have a very well-established collective delusion that liberal Jews run the media and use it to spread liberal Jewish and socialist propaganda. Sound familiar?  That's because it's straight out of 1930s Nazi Germany.  So it should come as no surprise that Trump didn't mention Jews in his Holocaust Remembrance Day statement.

That someone like Steve Bannon has become the White House Chief Strategist and, as of a few days ago, a member of the National Security Council, should literally scare the shit out of you.

Some have reasonably argued that Bannon, himself, is not an anti-Semite, but has simply pandered to such people in order to stir up discontent against the establishment and transform traditional American conservatism into far-right nationalism - something akin to the far right nationalist populism of Europe. Even if that's true, the results are still the same: he is a champion of right-wing extremism and is undoubtedly the most dangerous demagogue in the Trump White House - which is saying something.

The Wall

Many conservatives have reasonably argued that protecting one's borders is a wise and fair thing to do, pointing out that many nations in Europe and elsewhere have physical barriers along their borders, requiring people to pass through checkpoints. Since most agree that illegal immigration is a problem (regardless of their views on how to solve it or how big the problem is), what's so wrong with a wall to stop illegals from coming into the country?

Several things, actually.

First of all, the cost. The Trump administration's estimate of 9 billion dollars is widely considered to be conservative (no pun intended). Of course, when you're talking about that much money, what's a few billion here and there? More than likely it will be twice that much. Either way, for a political persuasion that claims to be interested in cutting spending, throwing 20 billion at a wall in Texas is hard to justify. Sure, sure, Mexico's gonna pay for it. Right. And pigs will fly out of my ass.

Secondly, and far more importantly, is the symbolism of a 20 billion dollar border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. We all know what walls stand for - they stand for oppression and isolation and aggression. They scream a big loud KEEP OUT and they tell people WE DON'T WANT YOUR KIND HERE. Think of a mansion with a gigantic perimeter wall and an armed guard at the only gatehouse. You're poor ass isn't welcome here. That's what Trump is proposing we do to our long-time neighbor and ally, Mexico.

And it's in keeping with his stance on immigration - Muslims and Mexicans aren't welcome here (unless they're going to toe the line of right-wing populism, of course). And it all goes back to the influence of people like Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, the champion of far-right nationalism and politics.

I would much rather see the process for getting visas made quicker and easier, and then hard-working Mexican laborers wouldn't need to come here illegally. They come illegally because it takes too long to get a work visa. They need to eat now, not in six months. If it was quicker and easier to get visas, people wouldn't need to sneak in, and then voila, we wouldn't need a 20 billion dollar wall.

All in all, Trump's first week is pretty much what I expected it to be, and despite all the controversy and protests, I predict his approval rating will go up. People will see him as keeping promises and being decisive, and in many people's eyes, that's far more important than what he's actually doing and what harm it may cause. I hope I'm wrong - I hope his approval rating stays in the gutter, but I've lost all faith in the American people at this point. After all, they elected him in the first place.


Unknown said...

It must hurt you terribly to go to sleep each night in a building with walls, Scott.

Scott said...

Not at all, actually. Then again, I didn't build my house to be a camp ground, but a single-family dwelling.

America is a camp ground that has built its legacy on welcoming strangers from all over the world. We've never had walls and we don't need them now. We need only to ease the burden of getting a work visa, and then continue patrolling the borders for criminals as we always have. Better yet, how about taking the $20 billion for a wall and give it in aid to Mexico to fight poverty, thereby decreasing dramatically the number of Mexicans who feel the need to come to the U.S. to work in the first place?

Ultimately, building a wall does nothing to solve the problem - it's a band-aid and nothing else. And one hell of an expensive band-aid. It doesn't address the core problem of poverty in our next door neighbor. We are a billionaire with a homeless man literally living in a tent next door to our property and our response to that is putting a wall. That's inhumane.

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