The evening before I left, bidding farewell to some of my colleagues, many of whom have also since left, I notified Trump’s senior NSC communications adviser, Michael Anton, of my departure, since we shared an office. His initial surprise, asking whether I was leaving government entirely, was followed by silence––almost in caution, not asking why. I told him anyway.I told him I had to leave because it was an insult walking into this country’s most historic building every day under an administration that is working against and vilifying everything I stand for as an American and as a Muslim. I told him that the administration was attacking the basic tenets of democracy. I told him that I hoped that they and those in Congress were prepared to take responsibility for all the consequences that would attend their decisions.He looked at me and said nothing.It was only later that I learned he authored an essay under a pseudonym, extolling the virtues of authoritarianism and attacking diversity as a “weakness,” and Islam as “incompatible with the modern West.”My whole life and everything I have learned proves that facile statement wrong.My parents immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh in 1978 and strove to create opportunities for their children born in the states. My mother worked as a cashier, later starting her own daycare business. My father spent late nights working at Bank of America, and was eventually promoted to assistant vice president at one of its headquarters. Living the American dream, we’d have family barbecues, trips to Disney World, impromptu soccer or football games, and community service projects. My father began pursuing his Ph.D., but in 1995 he was killed in a car accident.I was 12 when I started wearing a hijab. It was encouraged in my family, but it was always my choice. It was a matter of faith, identity, and resilience for me. After 9/11, everything would change. On top of my shock, horror, and heartbreak, I had to deal with the fear some kids suddenly felt towards me. I was glared at, cursed at, and spat at in public and in school. People called me a “terrorist” and told me, “go back to your country.”My father taught me a Bengali proverb inspired by Islamic scripture: “When a man kicks you down, get back up, extend your hand, and call him brother.” Peace, patience, persistence, respect, forgiveness, and dignity. These were the values I’ve carried through my life and my career.I never intended to work in government. I was among those who assumed the government was inherently corrupt and ineffective. Working in the Obama White House proved me wrong. You can’t know or understand what you haven’t been a part of.Still, inspired by President Obama, I joined the White House in 2011, after graduating from the George Washington University. I had interned there during my junior year, reading letters and taking calls from constituents at the Office of Presidential Correspondence. It felt surreal––here I was, a 22-year-old American Muslim woman from Maryland who had been mocked and called names for covering my hair, working for the president of the United States.
I heard two ladies off to my left chanting, not yelling or screaming but chanting, “T-R … U-M-P; that’s how you spell — bigotry!” They repeated the rhyme over and over. Two ladies in front of them began seething and screaming in their face while shaking their Trump signs at them. Another couple standing behind them started screaming at them as well. One of the chanting ladies had her eight-year-old daughter on her back; the other had a severely disabled child in a wheelchair in front of her. As they continued chanting, the people around them became violently enraged. One angry man grabbed the lady’s arm — that’s when I went into action. I barged through the crowd and yelled at them to back off. My heart wasn’t racing; I just instinctively became a protector. I didn’t actually want a Trump sign, but one of the volunteers had shoved it into my hands as I walked through the door earlier; “Make America Great Again!” That sign probably saved someone from getting hurt. I held the sign close to my chest as I positioned myself between the chanting protesters and the angry mob. My 11-year-old daughter was clinging to my arm, sobbing in fear. The two angry, screaming ladies looked at me, both of them raised their middle finger at me in my face and repeatedly yelled, “F*#% YOU!” Repeatedly. I calmly responded, “No thank you, I’m happily married.” Their faces and their voices were filled with demonic anger. I have been in places and experiences before where demonic activity was palpable. The power of the Holy Spirit of God was protecting me in those moments and was once again protecting me and my daughter in this moment. I raised my voice and calmly said, “These ladies have the right to do what they are doing and they are harming no one; this is America and they a right to express themselves in this way. They are harming no one.” A couple of other people around me stepped in and supported me in protecting them as a barrier, as well. My daughter was shaking in fear as she clung to me. The one man behind the protesters shoved himself forward, grabbed the lady by the arm and screamed with multiple expletives, “I’m going to take you out! This is my president and nobody has the right to disrespect him and nobody has the right to keep me from hearing him!”“I’m trying to separate how I actually feel about this man and his campaignisms,” Tooley wrote. “I know why people voted for him; I know why people voted against his opponent. But, at the end of the day, what I felt from his leadership in this experience was actually horrifying. There was palpable fear in the room. There was thick anger and vengeance. He was counting on it. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that it would not have taken very much for him to have called this group of people into some kind of riotous reaction.”
Since Obama took office in 2008, this unholy trinity has worked overtime to undermine liberal democracy and shift the Republican Party further rightward. Wealthy oligarchs such as the Kochs and Mercers funded training and campaigns for hand-selected far right candidates, and utilized fake grassroots movements to unseat less extreme GOP candidates. They orchestrated the Citizens United case to eliminate soft money restrictions so they could further expand their influence. Far right GOP operatives undertook a coordinated effort to suppress Democratic votes through gerrymandering and aggressive voter ID laws, and gutted the Voting Rights Act by bringing carefully planned challenges to a sympathetic Supreme Court. At the same time, corporate and religious right wing media stoked a non-stop propaganda machine to gain support of the white working and middle class by appealing to racism and economic insecurity.Which brings us back to 2016. Putin saw in Trump’s candidacy a perfect opportunity to sow discord and doubt in America’s electorate and weaken the U.S. whether or not he won the election. When he defied expectations and started winning primaries, some on the far right realized that he had enough charisma and name recognition to carry the GOP nomination, and that with no clear ideology of his own (other than “what’s in it for me”) he could serve as an ideal Trojan Horse for their extremist agenda. The fact that many on the right already had a strange admiration for Putin, and that both white supremacist and fundamentalist Christian supporters had close ties to Russia probably served to lessen concern among GOP electeds that their candidate might be compromised by a foreign nation.So the next time Congress declines to investigate Russian influence or ethics breaches by the Trump administration, just remember: they’re getting exactly what they want out of this arrangement, and will continue to enact their far-right agenda as long as they have the votes. Congress, Trump, and Putin all back the same vision of a Christian, white nationalist, authoritarian world order that will protect the wealth of oligarchs while suppressing women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and anyone else they perceive as a threat to their control.
Minutes after Donald Trump insisted he was “the least racist person” at a press conference on Thursday, the president asked a black reporter to arrange a meeting for him with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).The American Urban Radio Networks reporter April Ryan asked the president if he was going to include the CBC in conversations he will have about his “inner city” policies.Trump responded by repeatedly asking Ryan if she could set up a meeting with the caucus, members of which the president suggested could be “friends” of hers.Trump uses press conference to declare administration ‘fine-tuned machine’ Read more“Are they friends of yours? No, go ahead,” Trump said. “Set up the meeting.”
In a historical coincidence, like Adams, Ms. Warren represents the state of Massachusetts. She occupies the same seat as Charles Sumner, who was nearly clubbed to death on the Senate floor in 1856 by Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina, who was offended to the point of murderous violence by one of Sumner’s antislavery speeches. And Rule XIX itself was created in its current form in 1902 after the virulently racist Senator Benjamin Tillman assaulted his fellow South Carolinian Senator John McLaurin for saying that Tillman had uttered “a willful, malicious and deliberate lie.”This is the legacy that the 49 Republicans who voted to silence Senator Warren embraced. It is a legacy that regarded the sensitive feelings of thin-skinned congressmen as more important than good government or the voices of the people — especially the voices of women and minorities. Adams was gagged for presenting antislavery petitions from women and blacks, Senator Warren for reading the words of a female civil rights icon. This is a legacy no one should want to preserve.
The most important clue to solve this puzzle is Trump and Netanyahu’s obsession with attacking, controlling and manipulating the news media (indeed, this is one of the major sources of Netanyahu’s recent legal troubles). Admittedly, even within their own camps, they are extreme outliers in terms of crudity and relentlessness on this issue — something that surely has to do with their individual psychological makeup. But they are also emblematic of a broader approach on the right, which has fueled the rise of rigorously partisan and uncurious media organs such as Israel Hayom in Israel and Fox News in the U.S.Journalists are a major problem for the Israeli and American extreme right because, despite all their flaws, they occasionally do provide information and cover actual events. In other words, they reflect reality — however partially and inadequately.Reality is the greatest foe of the extreme right wingers currently in power. In the real world, Palestinians, Mexicans, Muslims, and many other groups that they do not like continue to exist, despite travel bans and land grabs. In the real world, international relations are crucial for the prosperity of both countries and cannot be flippantly dismissed. “Alternative facts” are easily malleable. Actual facts cannot be so flexibly managed. The extreme right is not creating “facts on the ground,” it is being undone by them, bit by bit.Netanyahu, Trump, and their allies are fighting a losing battle. Deep inside, they know this. If they truly believed otherwise, their disposition would be sunny and confident, not dark and fretful.This is not cause for complacency. Part of the reason these agendas will be defeated is precisely because people are not complacent — they are mobilized and agitated (at least in the U.S.; this kind of mass opposition seems to be further down the road in Israel and Palestine). Until they are stopped, Trump and Netanyahu can do great harm, some of which will be irreparable. Nonetheless, the struggle against them must begin with the insight that we are not fighting an ascendant and secure power, we are opposing a desperate and fearful faction.
So there we have it: Donald Trump, a misogynist and a racist businessman who verifiably made 87 false statements in the course of only five days of the election campaign, is no longer a candidate. He’s sitting in the White House. Here are three insights about this American president who has been in office since Jan. 20.First, in the two-and-a-half weeks since his awful inauguration speech, he has demonstrated that he will do what he said he would: He is ordering the construction of a wall on the border to Mexico, he is issuing xenophobic decrees and he is rattling America’s allies and international institutions and, by doing so, every aspect of global politics. He has already threatened Iran and North Korea. None of this comes as a surprise either, because even Trump’s voters knew that adviser Stephen Bannon is a man who considers wars to be useful.Second, Trump is also showing that he will do much that he did not announce in the campaign. He has ordered scientists not to conduct or publish research on topics of which he does not approve. He says climate change doesn’t exist and means it seriously. He stood by as one of his closest confidants invented the term “alternative facts” to create a parallel reality. Trump brings his children with him to high-level meetings, he hired his son-in-law as a White House adviser, he has spared countries in which he does business from his travel ban on citizens of predominately Muslim states, he has not divested himself of his company holdings, he has not released his tax filings (despite pledging to do so) and even had his adviser Kellyanne Conway claim that voters didn’t care. He now wants to undo banking regulations so that “friends of mine” can get easier access to money. Is he paving the way to cash in and further enrich himself while in office?Third, Trump has already proven some of the things we already knew about him. The perception people have of him is more important to Trump than anything else. Nothing was more important to him in his first two and a half weeks in office than the size of the crowd at his inauguration. Trump is a chronic liar and he proves this in one tweet after the other. Trump despises the media (he calls it the “opposition party” and says “As you know, I have a running war with the media”) as well as the judicial branch in the form of “this so-called judge” who didn’t rule the way that his ruler desired. Meanwhile, Trump claims the people protesting against him are “paid.”
Align with Time-Tested Organizations
Alongside protest, however, Hunt says folks should align with existing groups rather than trying to recreate the wheel on your own. “It’s really important to work underneath people who have been doing the work, and that you can learn from,” she says. For most folks it makes the most sense to start locally within your own community, where most great acts of resistance begin. In doing this you can build what Hunt calls “alternative political apparatuses” which can empower people even when the government imposes oppressive laws. Connecting with existing organizations links small groups to more powerful activist engines, increasing the power to make change.Action: Find one to three organizations in your community, or online, that works around your three target issues and sign up to volunteer with or learn more about them. Check out The Resistance Manual and these politically-minded apps.Focus, but Keep Intersectionality in MindUndoubtedly you feel strongly about multiple issues, from women’s rights to civil rights, to the right for all to have affordable healthcare. In practical terms, you may only be able to focus on strategies to deal with one or two at a time. “The more that you can narrow down and be clear about what you can and cannot do, and are willing to do and are interested and curious about, that can help you identify where you want to connect,” Luz Guerra, a long time feminist and activist who has trained hundreds of organizers around the country and internationally, tells Dame.However, Davis points out that in her own realm of environmental work, “Long before white environmentalists began to focus on sustainability, environmental justice activists understand that…it is all connected.” So while you may focus your own activist lens in one direction, be open to “the broader realization of intersectionality,” she says. All of our rights are connected and we can effect more change when no one is excluded from the fight.
It’s important that we all never forget who and what Bannon is.He is the media executive who, in his own words, turned the Breitbart News website into “the platform for the alt-right.” The alt-right is simply a rebranding of white nationalism for the digital age. At an alt-right gathering held shortly after the election just a few blocks from the White House, Richard Spencer – a man who has been lauded by Breitbart as one of the movement’s leading intellectuals – quoted Nazi propaganda and prompted sieg heils from the audience.During his campaign, Trump shared links to Breitbart’s racially charged content with his Twitter followers more often than he linked to any other media outlet. Another outlet that linked to Breitbart more than any other: the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, whose proprietor on election night exulted that “[o]ur Glorious Leader has ascended to God Emperor.”Now, Bannon sits at the right hand of the president and wants to silence the legitimate news media. He wants Americans to get their “news” from the website favored by neo-Nazis.We should all be very alarmed.
For all of the furor and bullshit though, the important thing to remember is that allegations of voter fraud always tie back to making it more difficult to register to vote and instituting strict laws requiring voter ID. As the NAACP laid out in a recent press release decrying Trump’s repeated lies that voter fraud is what cost him the popular vote, a Washington Post study showed only “31 alleged cases of in-person voter fraud among the over 1 billion votes cast in the United States.” On the other hand, a federal court found that North Carolina’s laws restricting early balloting specifically targeted black districts in the state. And on the third weird mutant hand, the only people caught committing voter fraud in the 2016 election were…Trump voters.