Doors slamming shut in the US
Trump’s war on free everything is raging right along over here. (I apologize for his manners toward Theresa May. He just doesn’t know how to act. That hand-holding thing was gruesome, and we’re all embarrassed about it.)
He attacks the free press nearly every day; he attacks freedom to protest, freedom from forced pregnancy, freedom of movement and travel, freedom of thought and opinion, freedom of dissent, freedom of information, freedom from being told a pack of lies by people in power.
Last week Trump spoke to the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference and devoted much of his talk to what he likes to call “the fake news” – by which he means The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the BBC among others.
President Trump intensified his slashing attack on the news media during an appearance before the Political Action Committee Conference on Friday, reiterating his charge that “fake news” outlets are “the enemy of the people.”
The opening portion of the president’s free-range, campaign-style speech centered on a declaration of war on the news media — a new foil to replace vanquished political opponents like Hillary Clinton.
“They are very smart, they are very cunning, they are very dishonest,” Mr. Trump said to the delight of the crowd packed into the main ballroom at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center just south of Washington. “It doesn’t represent the people; it never will represent the people.”
Of course, representing the people is not their job; their job is to report the news. The same day, reporters from “enemy” news organizations were denied entry to an informal press briefing at the White House. The New York Times reported:
Journalists from The New York Times and several other news organizations were prohibited from attending a briefing by President Trump’s press secretary on Friday, a highly unusual breach of relations between the White House and its press corps.
Reporters from The Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for the scheduled briefing. Aides to Mr. Spicer only allowed in reporters from a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed.
Those organizations included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended.
Trump’s non-stop verbal attacks and the “highly unusual” lockout of major media organizations look to me and to many others like the first steps toward a full-on attempt to control the press. It’s clear that that’s what he and his gang want to do, and it’s not as clear as I would like that they won’t be able to.
The night before Trump’s remarks to CPAC, there were shootings in a bar in Olathe, Kansas. Three men were shot, and one of them was killed.
According to witness accounts, the gunman reportedly told two of the people who were shot – both Indian men who work for Garmin, the technology firm – to “get out of my country” before opening fire and had also used racial slurs during the Wednesday evening shooting.
Maybe the witness accounts were wrong. Maybe the accounts are accurate but the shooter has always been an angry racist and would have murdered Srinivas Kuchibhotla even if Donald Trump had never run for president. Maybe.
But do I think Trump’s noisy unabashed racism and xenophobia are just inert? Do I think no one is worked up by them, no one feels liberated to be more publicly and aggressively racist because of them? Do I think Trump has failed to encourage a climate of open racism? No, I do not. I think he has made hatred of foreigners and Other races more popular, and I think he’s made many people feel empowered to express the hatred in word and sometimes deed.
They are a minority, but there are moves to make it harder for the majority to resist.
Since the election of President Trump, Republican lawmakers in at least 18 states have introduced or voted on legislation to curb mass protests in what civil liberties experts are calling “an attack on protest rights throughout the states.”
From Virginia to Washington state, legislators have introduced bills that would increase punishments for blocking highways, ban the use of masks during protests, indemnify drivers who strike protesters with their cars and, in at least once case, seize the assets of people involved in protests that later turn violent.
At the same time we read story after story of people stopped at airports for no apparent reason. The one making headlines today is a French historian of Vichy France and its role in the Holocaust who was on his way to give a talk at a Texas university. He was detained for ten hours over a visa misunderstanding, and about to be sent back to Paris when the university intervened. The Washington Post points out:
Egypt – from which Rousso and his family, as Jews, were exiled in 1956, after a slew of anti-Semitic measures imposed by the administration of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz – was not among the seven nations in the travel ban, which had been suspended by the time he arrived in the United States.
Furthermore, France is a beneficiary of the US visa waiver program, which permits French citizens to enter the United States without a visa. All that is required is an online ESTA application before departure.
Not really someone who should have been bundled onto the next plane back, then, and yet they nearly did.
I dread to think how bad it will be by the end of next month.