I commented to a friend yesterday:
“I was so ashamed for us earlier today, ashamed of us… such a cruel, arbitrary, cowardly move — appalling how casually he blows off the values America was built on… But then tonight, with the protests in the airports, I am SO proud. There are a lot of good people who won’t stand for it. We’re the majority. We have to start acting like it.”
Something turned a corner for me Friday night, when I read this:
This in particular struck me:
“If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair — everybody was persecuted, in all fairness — but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.”
The more I looked at that article, the more it sunk in:
Week One of our new presidency. Here is our new president, who has displayed open contempt for all forms of news media, giving one of his first face-to-face interviews as president. With whom? The Christian Broadcasting Network.
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK
This is not a news network. This is a religious network. If Trump wants to go talk to church people, fine, I guess, but why are you talking to church people about politics?
This is such a vivid illustration of the blurring of the line between church and state that we’re all so worried about. No — not blurring. Trump is erasing the line.
And this sudden reverence for the church, donning the cloak of godliness now as it suits his needs. He has the GALL to do this, but even worse: some poor schmucks somewhere actually BELIEVE it. It’s all a big act! It’s part of the whole schtick of his, this obscene soft-shoe, this ham-fisted sleight of hand. He is a mediocre vaudevillian, but if you suck up to the TV Christians, it’s all good.
And there he is blathering nonsense about how the US deliberately excludes Christians seeking asylum here. I don’t even know what he’s talking about. It’s some fairy tale world. No, Virginia: the US does not require a Muslim secret handshake to get into the country.
And then there’s the random chopping off of heads comment. Who is chopping off Christians’ heads? Has someone’s head been chopped off recently, for which this action is retaliation? Or was this just a general head-chopping observation? He just threw that in for dramatic effect, I guess.
So here we are, one week into the new term, and it’s one fiasco after another, as we witness the unfurling madness of Trump’s reign of terror. In one fell stroke of his Sharpie, he throws the lives of countless people into turmoil, for no reason other than his ego. Or idle curiosity, to see what people will do.
When someone pushes back the next day, he relents, or equivocates, or dithers. Someone says we misunderstood. It was meant to be more a general statement of policy or some such bullshit. We are being emotionally manipulated every day, as he tugs us around like fucking puppets. Trump is the maniacal madman behind the curtain, snickering like an evil supervillian.
And so, he announces, we will be giving preference to Christians seeking asylum in America.
He can say this and keep a straight face because he’s too stupid to know what he’s saying. The man listening to him is struck dumb with shock. Or maybe his brain lights up like a 100-watt light bulb, imagining what kind of money they could make with breaking news like that, important policy statements from the new president. Or maybe he’s thinking about that Twilight Zone episode where young Will Robinson mercilessly bullied his family after acquiring the power to make things happen. “You’re a VERY bad man!”
Peeling back the layers of wrongness here, at its core, fascism defined. All of us American, we all abide by laws, we observe conventions, we follow the rules. We all live by these rules.
So when someone travels abroad, we have rules and laws about it. Every single one of the people they detained or turned back had followed all the rules and the laws. They were entering the country lawfully. They have legal green cards, many of them. They have the required visas. They met all the conditions.
Trump’s action leapfrogs over the laws and rights that uphold all our transactions, not just in international travel but in so many other terms as well. For example, there is the money involved. These people had paid good money for their tickets. Do they get refunds on their flights? Who’s paying for them to be flown back to the country they came from? Who’s paying for their hotel bills? Who’s feeding them while they’re in detention? Who’s paying the guards who are handcuffing innocent people for no reason?
What about the reasons? There literally is no danger to American citizens from these people. None. Trump exploits the groundless fears of the people brainwashed by Fox News and the Insane Clown Posse known as the Tea Party with imaginary terrorists. In actual reality, the terrorists in America are white Christians.
I feel very strongly about this for a reason. I’ve traveled internationally a lot. I’ve crossed borders, utterly comfortable that I had my ducks in a row, confident that my status as an American would protect my rights. I’ve worked all my life with people from other countries. They enrich our country enormously.
On the genocide ladder, the first step is lists. When your official papers force you to state a religion, then somebody can keep a list of names. Everything comes after that: questioning, surveillance, detaining, deporting, relocating, and possibly worse.
I’ve read quite a lot about Rwanda. One of the things that made the genocide so easy was the fact that everybody had to state their tribe on their identity papers. So when the killing started, they didn’t have to wonder who to target. They had lists.
In America, we don’t have to state our religion, ever, to anybody. Until now. According to Trump.