No one who was paying any attention to the presidential campaign can say that they are surprised now that Trump is following through on his boasts and threats about what he would do when he became president. The border wall, the Muslim ban, the reinstatement of the Keystone XL and DAPL pipelines, the backing out of TPP, the actions against Obamacare; it was all shouted from the rostrums across the country, and anyone who thought he would change his way of doing things — fast and without thinking about the consequences — just wasn’t paying attention.
He bragged that things would be different now, that he would shake things up so that even the rituals that every president goes through that require little thought, such as signing a proclamation for Holocaust Remembrance Day, were going to be done his way, not the old way. So there was no mention of Jews dying in the camps because, as the White House noted, “everybody suffered.”
So it’s also no surprise that there has been a backlash to each of these actions and to the Trump regime in general. We knew that it would spark dissent. What we didn’t know and what seems to have caught the Trump minions by surprise is the volume, the mass, and the intensity of the rebellion and resistance. The marches in the cities on the day after the inauguration were off the charts, and the immediate reaction by protestors at the airports when the ban on travelers from Muslim countries was announced was breathtaking in both scale and intensity.
One other thing that is not a surprise is the craven complicity of the Republican leadership.
Facing intense criticism and dramatic news coverage of chaos and protests at airports worldwide, several congressional Republicans on Saturday questioned President Trump’s order to halt admission to the United States by refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were not among them.
Ryan was among the first lawmakers on Friday to back Trump’s order, and his office reiterated his support on Saturday.
“This is not a religious test and it is not a ban on people of any religion,” said spokeswoman AshLee Strong.
No, it’s just a ban on people from countries with a lot of Muslims, which as everyone knows, isn’t really a religion like, say, Christianity, right? (By the way, someone prominent in the Christian faith once said something about welcoming the stranger, but hey, that was a long time ago.)
It’s also no surprise that the Republicans would demonstrate such complicity towards these actions against immigrants; it’s not like they haven’t shown that hand at every opportunity, along with the rank hypocrisy of complaining about President Obama’s use of executive orders to save some wilderness acreage as “unconstitutional overreach” and stand by in silence as Trump basically stomps his way through the Bill of Rights. But as long as they get their tax cuts and free rein on regulation reform, who cares about a bunch of brown non-Christians stuck at an airport in Europe. It’s not like they matter, right?
It’s within living memory that the United States took such an attitude about refugees and immigrants from a continent where war was brewing and people were fleeing, trying to get to our shores and safety. We shut them out then, sending many of them back to where they came from, their fates sealed. Eighty years later we remember — at least some of us remember — what happened to them. But today we have a White House that won’t even mention them by name.
Those who remained silent then were just as complicit in the destruction that followed, and those who remain silent today are no different.