Sick of a shithole president
The bitter opposition to Trump is growing--but it needs to be organized into action.
DONALD TRUMP'S racist outburst during a White House meeting on immigration policy has further disgusted many millions of people in the U.S. and billions around the world. He has shown once again that he shouldn't be in charge of a Moose lodge, much less president of the United States.
The "leader of the free world" spoke in explicitly white supremacist terms. Not only did Trump demand to know why the U.S. should accept immigrants from "shithole countries" in Africa--and heaped abuse on Haitians who have borne the brunt of U.S. imperialism's political and economic tyranny--but he wondered why the U.S. isn't encouraging immigration from Norway, which is, of course, almost all white.
As Opal Tometi, executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, said in a statement to SocialistWorker.org:
This is racist. I don't want to say much more than that or risk obscuring that basic, vital point. The president's comments are racist. The president is a racist. In the coming days, there will be other controversies that will make many Americans forget what our president said today. But I cannot forget. Black immigrants--and the millions who love them--will not forget. The president is a racist. And anyone who stands with him moving forward must take responsibility for standing alongside a racist.
Trump's words were so vile that even many Republican lawmakers--recently reconciled with Trump after their tax-cut victory for Corporate America--tried to distance themselves again, while paying lip service to "America's diversity" and the "hard work of immigrants."
But for many in the political and media establishment, Trump's real blunder was to use the crude slurs of his supporters on the alt-right, rather than the acceptable, coded language that bipartisan Washington uses to justify the victimization of immigrants, especially if they are people of color.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois publicly confirmed accounts of what Trump said, describing him as "hate-filled, vile and racist." But Durbin then added: "I cannot believe that in the history of the White House and of that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday."
Actually, we know this to be false from Richard Nixon's secret White House tapes that were forced into the open because of the Watergate scandal--and it's not hard to imagine equally foul statements from any number of the slaveholders, robber barons and fanatics who have occupied the Oval Office.
Trump's problem, as Juan Cole wrote for his Informed Comment blog, is that he "just can't help letting the cat out of the bag" when more practiced politicians would keep their big mouths shut.
The political elite who disapproved of Trump's crude words should be equally outraged at their racist substance, which has been common to so many actions of the Trump administration: the Muslim travel ban, Jeff Sessions' green light for police violence and the smearing of anti-racist activists, and Trump's own apologies for alt-right violence, to name a few.
THIS LATEST obscenity will reinforce the urgent desire of many people to get rid of Trump as soon as possible. And rightly so--nothing is more spirit-crushing than waking up each day to his nonstop lies, his bigotry and his self-centered boasting.
But how can the Shithole-in-Chief be brought down? The hard fact is that there is no instant solution.
The collection of toadies and reactionaries in the Trump cabinet aren't even capable of standing up to their boss publicly, much less collectively invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office on the grounds of "fitness."
At this point, impeachment is only a little less far-fetched, not only because Republicans still control both houses of Congress, but because the Democratic Party is so feeble and compromised that its "opposition" is mostly confined to press releases and speeches.
Those prospects could change, but it won't be because the lawmakers of either party suddenly discover courage or a soul. Like when Nixon was forced out of office in 1974, Trump's impeachment or resignation would be the culmination of mass protest and political unrest--mostly not related to impeachment itself, in all probability--which crystalizes and builds outside the Washington political system until it forces change inside it.
This is the alternative to waiting on the institutions that gave us Trump to do something about him: Turn this and every eruption of outrage into protest and political opposition that gives meaning to the principles of democracy that Trump mocks with every day he is president.
Unfortunately, we won't get rid of Trump tomorrow. We can't stop all the harm that he causes each and every day, nor defuse the threat of much worse as a result of his dangerously erratic behavior.
But we aren't powerless either, and Trump hasn't gotten his way on everything during this past year.
The GOP plan for "repeal and replace" legislation to wreck Medicaid and unravel Obamacare collapsed in the face of grassroots mobilization. An upsurge of protest pressured the federal courts to put limits on Trump's Muslim travel ban for most of last year. The far right inspired by Trump's successes has been on the defensive since the summer after being confronted by local protests and mass opposition in public opinion.
Even now, with Trump and the Republicans still celebrating their victory for Corporate America with the tax-cut bill, schemes as varied as the expansion of offshore drilling and a further assault on voting rights are unraveling.
No one should downplay what Trump and the right are getting away with--but neither should we forget the last year's high points of resistance.
The many individual struggles and movements for justice can be collective building blocks for challenging the Trump presidency as a whole--but only if people start with working on each block.
If Donald Trump is going to spew racist hate and victimize immigrants, our side can try to engage the much larger numbers of people who hate Trump's scapegoating--and mobilize them around an alternative based on solidarity and struggle.
TRUMP'S RACIST diatribe would have been at home at a torch-lit, alt-right rally, but it's telling that it came at a White House meeting to discuss a bipartisan "compromise" on various immigration proposals such as preserving protections for undocumented youth under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
As author Roxane Gay pointed out in a New York Times op-ed essay, the meeting didn't end in an outraged walkout. But after hearing such filth, no one should trust Trump's claims that he cares about an agreement that safeguards the futures of DACA recipients.
Nevertheless, immigrants should be suspicious of the other side in these "negotiations"--the Democrats and so-called moderate Republicans who are willing to look for common ground with anti-immigrant zealots.
In the name of extending DACA to protect some immigrants, the compromisers are prepared for other immigrants to pay the price--in the form of more funding for "border security" at a time when ICE is already carrying out a reign of terror.
It wasn't hard to figure out what Donald Trump really thought about immigrants from Latin America and Africa long before he said it too crudely to stay a behind-closed-doors secret. He launched his presidential campaign in 2015 with slanders about Mexican immigrants "bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists."
Trump acts as if immigrants are taking advantage of the system in the U.S.--when, in fact, they are routinely taken advantage of and ruthlessly exploited.
Most Democrats would challenge Trump on this verbally--but the party is committed to a two-faced immigration policy that accepts strict border control and enforcement alongside any protections or a "path to citizenship" that benefits only some.
Thus, Barack Obama issued the executive order establishing the DACA program, under pressure from protests by immigrant youth--while at the same time presiding over a deportation machine that expelled more of the undocumented than any other president before him.
This is why Democratic leaders will denounce Trump's ugly scapegoating, but won't do what could make a real difference: throw every effort into mobilizing immigrants and their supporters for protest and direct action that puts pressure on all the politicians to hold a vote on a bill extending DACA without conditions--while beginning the discussion about measures like amnesty and legal equality.
If Democrats are committed to an immigration system that combines limited and elusive promises with drastic punishment, it doesn't make sense to wait around for them to get elected in 2018, and hope they'll do something that they've already proven they won't. We need action now.
Trump has once again shown the sickening face of anti-immigrant hate. Millions of people despise him for it, but their outrage needs to be organized into action.
The struggle for immigrant justice won't bring millions into the street overnight, but there are new opportunities now to win wider numbers to the urgent need to struggle. We can turn the dozens and hundreds of people who turned out to defend Siham Byah in Boston and Ravi Ragbir in New York City into hundreds and thousands and more.