January 31, 2017
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the pace of Donald Trump’s dismantling of American democracy? That’s on purpose. He wants to keep you off balance and exhausted.
Thousands of people stormed the nation’s airports over the weekend, demanding the release of Muslim travelers caught up in Trump’s unconstitutional ban on visitors from certain Middle Eastern countries (except the ones where Trump has business interests).
The airport protesters and the dozens of lawyers who fought to free the detained Muslims are to be applauded for their quick organizing work and their solidarity with the oppressed. But if you think this is unprecedented, you should keep in mind that the U.S. has been bombing innocent Muslims for decades now.
Yet, even as protesters chanted, the newly installed regime was working on multiple fronts to undermine the normal operation of the U.S. government. Unless you’re plugged into Twitter 24/7, it’s impossible to stay up to date, much less effectively fight back.
Last week, when the senior leadership at the State Department resigned en masse, foreign policy experts reacted with shock at the sudden power vacuum created in the country’s diplomatic leadership.
“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” David Wade, former State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State John Kerry, told The Washington Post‘s Josh Rogin on January 25.
Except these experienced diplomats didn’t resign, as the press initially reported, but were instead forced out by the POTUS.
“The Trump White House carried out an abrupt purge of the state department’s senior leadership last week, removing key officials from posts that are essential to the day-to-day running of the department and US missions abroad,” reported The Guardian’s world affairs editor, Julian Borger, on Sunday.
“The purge has left a gaping hole at the heart of US diplomacy,” Borger added. The use of purges against government officials should feel familiar to any student of history or even current events in the Middle East — it’s a classic tactic of dictatorial leaders seeking to cement their unstable hold on power.
At almost the same time, the newly installed administration rearranged the leadership of the U.S. military to put one of Trump’s closest confidantes in a dangerously powerful position. Steve Bannon, Trump’s national security advisor and former publisher of Breitbart News, a notorious online hotbed of white supremacy, was appointed to the principals committee for the National Security Council, the most important interagency group responsible for setting national security policy. Simultaneously. Trump removed the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a key group of military advisors that traditionally advise the president, from most principals committee meetings.
George W. Bush actually banned his closest advisor, the notorious war criminal Karl Rove, from attending National Security Council meetings, which puts me in the awkward position of writing that the Bush administration looks less corrupt than the Trump White House, just 11 days after inauguration.
— Dan Froomkin/PressWatchers.org (@froomkin) January 30, 2017
Bannon’s appointment, along with several other disturbing recent moves by Trump to consolidate power, have led some to suggest Trump wants to end the rule of democracy. Political analyst Yonatan Zunger suggested Trump had sent up a “trial balloon for a coup” in a post published Sunday on Medium. And while you might be tired of hearing comparisons between Orange Hitler and the original Adolf, the early days of the Third Reich saw rapid and bewildering changes too.
This is day 8. This is normal speed, despite how fast it seems to be going. Germans in 1933 went through exactly such fast-paced collapse
— Anosognosiogenesis (@pookleblinky) January 29, 2017
With rumors swirling of an impending executive order attacking LGBTQ rights, and mosques under attack and burning across the continent, not to mention Pence’s promise to appoint a Supreme Court justice that would roll back abortion rights, we have our work cut out for us.
The one saving grace is that Trump’s diverse attacks on human rights present new opportunities for unity across issues, from pro-choice activists to queer people to Muslims. That is, if we can keep from being overwhelmed by the pace of it all.
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