As has been the case since January 20th, a lot has happened today, so here is my attempt to take a look, and have a little commentary to go with it.
The Washington Post has reported that President Trump had a confrontational phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a Refugee deal while bragging about his electoral victory.
So, the call was a meant to be a typical call between world leaders. But Trump being Trump, he had to first humiliate his opponent (even if there isn’t one) in order to assert some sort of Alpha-Male pecking order. Now Australia is one of the US’s closest and staunchest allies, and it located in a critical part of the world (the Pacific). Denigrating the leader of the country, and worse, treat it like an abused dog is going to turn public sentiment even further again Mr. Trump and his supporters. Further, it exacerbates the already tense situation with the Refugee deal Australia and the US has already made.
This adds to another report coming from the Associated Press claiming that Trump has threatened to send in US troops into Mexico in order to stop “the Bad Hombres” in the country.
This also compares with Mr. Trump threatening to send in federal troops into Chicago to get a handle on the violence in the city. The New York Post further adds today that Gang leaders do want to bring down crime in the city, but also want Trump to work with them, something the Obama Administration did not do.
The prevailing issue we seeing here is Mr. Trump’s inability to differentiate between his allies and his opponents. From Australia, whose immigration and refugee policy are pretty aligned to him, to Mexico, one of the US’ largest trade partners, he is bound and determined to stake his claim as the President and he does not care who he offends in the process. It will be interesting how these countries warm (or cool) to the Administration as it settles in, as well as fallout within regarding their response. Early impressions are usually lasting ones, and if this is how Mr. Trump treats his allies, then it is a question whether they want to be allies with him when he needs them.
With the issue of Chicago, one could argue that he is bluffing, but given his actions since becoming president, he full intends to federalise Chicago… and if that happens. I suspect a lot of negative reaction across the country.
Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) has announced they will not be voting to confirm the Department of Education Nominee Betsy DeVos. This means that only one more vote will defeat her nomination. Eyes are on the White House to see Mr. Trump reaction to being told “No” on something he wants. DeVos has been criticized since being nominated as being not qualified for the job. The elevation of DeVos to Education Secretary would be in line with Conservative attempts to de-legitimizese the department and make it easier to dismantle. Democratic opposition is total on this, but enough questions remain for the two Senators to withhold their votes.
The Nation has leaked a rough draft copy of a Religious Freedom Executive Order, granting organisations and individuals the right to withhold services that goes against their religious beliefs.
Persons and organizations do not forfeit their religious freedom when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts: or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments.”
– Leaked Executive Order Text
This is a Pandora’s Box that the Trump Administration is willing, and wanting to open. While the ability for the Executive Order to make this enforceable is questionable, it breaks down the fundamental wall of separation of Church and State, to the point that people can be refused healthcare if they find the person they are services to be against their religious beliefs.
As I said to my doubting co-worker today. This means that if you are a young Gay child in Rural Kansas, it means that you could be denied life saving treatment after being bashed for being gay because the doctor doesn’t approve of Homosexuals. It means that a store can say “I will not serve you” if you are an Atheist, or not the same religion as they are. It means that people could be completely run out of town for their orientation, or the religious beliefs, or for their gender because someone’s religion deems it so. While the Trump Administration says it will still honor the 2014 Executive Order preventing the discrimination of LGBT people in working Federal Government (and those organisations that use Federal Government money), they can still be discriminated against when using its (or private company’s) services, and gives not protection in the private sector.
This also tramples on State’s Rights ability top set its own laws on discrimination, something that the GOP has long championed… until now.
And of course that is forgetting other religions. Will a Muslim owned store not serve women for not wearing the proper attire? Can a Muslim person deny a woman the right to drive at the DMV if their religion forbids it? And further, they are protected from being fired or consequence? What about radical religions all across the country, or anyone using the Bible to justify *any* discrimination. We have seen it through History, religion is often used to justify abhorrent behavior, and allowing people to use Religion as a shield to discriminate and oppress goes against the basic values of the nation. The KKK considers itself a Christian group. They use the Christian Bible to push forward a White Supremacist ideology. What stops them from claiming “Religious Freedom” to attack immigrants, minorities, LGBT people and others who disagree with them? This will allow hate groups to shroud themselves in “Religious Freedom” and use that to pursue greater numbers and greater influence.
For these reasons alone, this Executive Order should not be signed. Further, the legality of it would be thrown into question. Sadly, the GOP are trying to pass a law to make it legal. Under the name “First Amendment Defense Act,” the GOP is hoping to enshrine the ability to discriminate.
And this was only today. As news of the EO continues to spread, it remains to be seen what the White House will eventually do. From my perspective, this will only alienate the American people from the rest of the world, as well as increase the likelihood of Americans turning against each other. We have far more in common that not, and it is frustrating to see the attempt to enshrine discrimination, homophobia, bigotry and racism under the guise of religious freedom. Freedom of Religion doesn’t mean your religious beliefs supercede another person’s right to equal treatment or ability to live.
There is no right to oppression, no matter what religion you profess to have.