By Monty Herron
After just one week in office, the nation’s new president arguably set progress in this country back by thirty years, while simultaneously setting the record for fastest majority disapproval rating in this country’s history (8 days). Additionally, with his recent executive order regarding refugees and other immigrants, he has committed two impeachable offenses in breach of his oath to defend this country’s constitution—the Establishment Clause prevents discrimination based on religion or country of origin, and the Separation of Church and State is violated by his indication that he would ‘help’ Christians while barring Muslims.
Here’s a short laundry list of the things he did just within his first ten days:
Greenlit the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines — pretty much committing an act of war, and in violation of numerous treaties signed with the United States. Not hyperbole.
Reinstated the anti-abortion global “gag rule,” which means no more U.S. financial support to any foreign organization that offers abortion or family-planning services. This will increase the number of unsafe abortions around the world.
Scrapped a money-saving fee cut for new homeowners. This was a .25% interest rate cut for low income and first time home buyers that would have saved them $500 a year.
Federal hiring freeze. No new hires (except for 5,000 new border guards). Meanwhile, State Dept. employees are resigning at the senior levels like rats leaving a sinking ship — these people possess unique knowledge and tradecraft that can only be gained through experience.
Alienated the country of Mexico and her residents with his plans for “the wall” and more taxpayer funded nationalism. The President of Mexico cancelled current and future meetings with Trump.
Taken aim at Sanctuary Cities, using the language “crackdown,” while right here in Portland, I.C.E. agents have started slumming around the Multnomah county courthouse and jail, checking people’s immigration status. (Yes, straight out of a WWII or Cold War movie. “Papers Please!” Did I fall asleep and somehow wake up in 1940s Berlin?)
Started dismantling the Affordable Care Act. Millions of Americans will no longer have health care, the same health care we all help subsidize with our Medicare tax from our paychecks.
Dismantled protections for clean air and water by demanding via executive order that the EPA fast track approvals on assessments for infrastructure like roads, highways, bridges and pipelines. (All things that really are a moot point if we’ve all been poisoned and are too dead to use them.)
Instructed government agencies to stay off social media, gagging them, and removed pages of internet content from the White House and other agencies’ websites if they pertained to things he doesn’t agree with (e.g. disabled persons, LGBT community, climate science, etc.).
To my fellow Native Americans/Indigenous Americans: You know he WILL be coming for us at some point, right? He blames our Native casinos for his own business failures and failed casinos, despite a casino being a pretty much “auto-pilot enterprise” that will always make money. He thinks we should be taxed, that we should let the government do whatever they want to us and our lands. That we are the “losers” of the land, so he can build pipelines to make private oil companies he’s invested his money in. Who cares if the country becomes a hellscape of oil spills and poisoned waters?
The parallels to another time in history are disturbing to say the least.
Step One: Hitler discredited the media (and eventually took control with his own propaganda machines).
Step Two: Hitler silenced scientists and government employees, unless they were unconscionable psychopaths who wanted to experiment on humans, or could innovate for his war machine.
Step Three: Hate crimes against minorities grew to the highest in their country’s history. People were literally fighting in the streets. Clashes between parties became so extensive that Hitler ended all civil liberties, claiming “law and order” as the reason. (How many times have you heard Trump say he’ll restore law and order?) Those who opposed Hitler were ridiculed, threatened, and beaten within an inch of their lives, right out in the open. (States are working to pass laws that allow people to hit protesters with cars if they are blocking traffic, and that’s just the beginning.)
Step Four: Wealthy supporters purchased media outlets, employing only those faithful to the ruling party.
Step Five: Hitler declared that the only way the country could be unified was to restore traditional values. Minorities including gays, the disabled, Jews, Roma, and people of color were considered “inferior” and sent to death camps for slaughter.
We are in the third step right now. If you are confused by how so many people could go along with Hitler’s Final Solution, this is exactly how it happens. It’s real, it’s happening around you right now.
When we reach that final step, I won’t be here to say, “I told you so.” As an educator and member of the academic community, as well as a person of color, I’ll be one of the first people they murder, silence or get rid of. Because I won’t shut my mouth. I won’t let them quietly do their work. I will speak.
Monty Herron is a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, an author, activist, and adjunct instructor of Indigenous Nations Studies at Portland State University.