Sorry, Borg (Bannon.org), but resistance isn’t futile. You may have taken over the ship of state, but we will fight your hostile takeover of our democratic ideals to the end.
When President Trump’s
Muslim ban immigration and travel ban sowed chaos at airports across the country and worldwide, protesters began assembling by the hundreds, following social media calls to arms. They weren’t just fighting for the rights of refugees and legal visa and green card owners, but the truths they hold self-evident as Americans.
Courts swiftly stepped in to halt parts of the travel ban, as dozens of legal visa holders were detained at airports as if they were fugitives from justice. One refugee had risked his life to aid American troops in Iraq.
Sending him home could’ve been a death sentence.
Our closest allies condemned the measures. Hell, even the Koch brothers came out against this hastily drawn executive action.
But the airport protests–coming on the heels of the Women’s Marches following Trump’s inauguration–show the clearest path forward. Ordinary American who have never protested anything before pick up their handmade signs and headed toward their local airports.
A New Resistance
It feels like a new protest movement is taking shape. This time, it’s not people protesting for the civil rights of their own group, but those of others. Now, it’s not freedom from being sent to fight a politically motivated foreign war but resistance to the violation of the American values and freedoms those soldiers were supposedly fighting for.
The highest profile act of protest, however, came when acting Attorney General Sally Yates–a temporary holdover from the Obama administration–announced that the immigration ban was illegal and ordered the Justice Department not to defend it.
We do not have religious tests in this country. What part of freedom of religion don’t they understand?
Yates was summarily fired, evoking President Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which the embattled president fired his attorney general and assistant AG for refusing to dismiss the Watergate special prosecutor.
It seems that Donald Trump isn’t limiting his Tricky Dick impersonation to a Law and Order platform and aping Nixon’s demagogic panderings to the “silent majority.”
The next thing you know, Trump will be flashing a peace sign and saying, “I am not a crook.” Hell, he’s already said if the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.
In a remarkable coincidence, none other than Jeff Sessions–the future nominee for attorney general–grilled Yates on her ability to stand up to the president regarding President Obama’s immigration orders.
Two years later, as acting attorney general, Yates concluded from statements by Trump and his closest advisers that the travel ban was solely intended to target Muslims.
Gee, I wonder how she got that impression?
Yet, it’s not just liberals entering the fight. In a remarkable show of defiance, more than 100 State Department officials signed onto a “dissent memo” draft expressing opposition to the president’s executive action, which was written without the customary interdepartmental consultations.
In fact, Trump was signing the order as the director of homeland security (DHS), the Secretary of Defense, and other important stakeholders were in the process of discussing the pending order. None of the department heads who would be tasked with enforcing the order were consulted about its drafting or even briefed in advance before the ink was dry.
In fact, the DHS ruled after the fact that valid green card holders were exempt from the travel ban, only to be overruled by special advisor for white nationalism, Steve Bannon. The administration was eventually forced to partially walk back this draconian stance, which violates international norms and those of common decency, which have not yet been banned by presidential decree.
Meanwhile, and I’m sure totally by coincidence, Bannon has been given a permanent seat on the National Security Council “principals committee,” while the director of national security and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff were limited to meetings directly related their departmental concerns.
Basically, they’ve been told to take a seat at the back of the bus, while Bannon has been elevated to a position usually reserved for generals.
Will the NSC soon stand for the Nationalist Security Council?
Furthermore, showing the administration’s continuing disdain for democratic discourse, press secretary Sean Spicer pointed the way to the exit to any State Department official who signed the dissent memo. Such memos have been a way to express honest disagreement among seasoned State Department hands since the Vietnam War. Said Spicer,
These career bureaucrats have a problem with it? They should either get with the program or they can go.
Yet it’s not just internationalist bureaucrats voicing objections to these policies. You know you’re in trouble when even Dick Cheney thinks your actions are beyond the pale.
Don’t expect Dick Cheney to join the resistance movement anytime soon. But hundreds of thousands have already put their convictions to the test by manning and womanning the protest lines.
And we’re only in the second week of the Trump administration.
Our country is up drek creek, but those picket signs may be our only paddle.
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