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Trump's Troubling First Days

By       Message Bill Moyers       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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Donald Trump speaking with the media at a hangar at Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona. Dec. 16, 2015.
Donald Trump speaking with the media at a hangar at Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona. Dec. 16, 2015.
(Image by (Flickr Gage Skidmore))
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The smell of a coup hung over the White House this past weekend, like the odor of gunpowder after fireworks on the Fourth of July.

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In these first few days of the Trump administration we have witnessed a series of executive orders and other pronouncements that fly in the face of the Republic's most fundamental values. But Friday's misbegotten announcement of a ban on refugees from Syria and a 120-day ban on refugees from seven Muslim nations defies reason, pandering to a segment of the population festering with paranoia and rage.

Let's just look at some of the misrepresentations that litter Trump's declaration like garbage strewn across a sidewalk. Despite claims that the order is not about religion (!), it gives Christian refugees priority because, Trump wrongly said, "If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian it was almost impossible." The New York Times reports that, "In fact, the United States accepts tens of thousands of Christian refugees. According to the Pew Research Center, almost as many Christian refugees (37,521) were admitted as Muslim refugees (38,901) in the 2016 fiscal year."

Trump went on to say that in Mideast war zones, "Everybody was persecuted, in all fairness -- but they were chopping off the heads of everybody, but more so the Christians." Again the facts: The Washington Post notes that "Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war and the rise of the Islamic State, many more Muslims than Christians have been killed or displaced because of the violence."

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What's more, The New York Times editorial board observed, "The order lacks any logic. It invokes the attacks of Sept. 11 as a rationale, while exempting the countries of origin of all the hijackers who carried out that plot and also, perhaps not coincidentally, several countries where the Trump family does business."

Add to all this the haste and hurry, the sloppiness of preparation and apparent lack of prior review by qualified attorneys and affected government agencies, the chaos and pain created by its sudden, thoughtless implementation and the fuel this will doubtless add to the propaganda of the very same radical Islamic terrorists the executive order is supposed to keep out of the country. What Trump did makes little or no sense, and the way he did it was an insult to due process.

Immigration Decree

The President's decree on immigration is the act of a self-assumed Caesar -- a Peronista strongman, wielding power like a blunt instrument with no regard for the short- or long-term consequences on fellow human beings or other nations. The courts have countered him for the moment on some provisions, but the stay is temporary. And Trump will soon be replacing more than 100 federal judges, all in his image, no doubt, like mannequins in a store window.

Syrian women and children refugees at Budapest railway station.
Syrian women and children refugees at Budapest railway station.
(Image by (Photo from Wikipedia))
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Oddly enough, while it seems clearer than ever that Donald Trump has never really read the U.S. Constitution, he may have inadvertently picked up a wrong idea or two from the Declaration of Independence. Among the Founders' grievances against King George III was that the monarch was "obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners" and "refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither."

Does it come as any surprise that with his refugee ban Trump favors a ban that sounds more like it came from tyrannical old King George than leaders of the American Revolution? No wonder he leaped at the invitation extended by the U.K.'s Prime Minister Theresa May last week to dine with Queen Elizabeth. Next thing you know the gilded letters T-R-U-M-P will grace Downton Abbey. You can imagine dreams of reviving old royal traditions like primogeniture jitterbugging in his head -- otherwise, what's the use of having three sons if not so at least one of them can inherit the gilded throne? (Sorry, Ivanka and Tiffany.)

But we digress. Let's also not forget Trump's ludicrous feud with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Trump's childish obsessions with voter fraud and crowd size at his inauguration, his failure to mention 6 million Jews when saluting International Holocaust Remembrance Day and still, the never-ending tweets.

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus got it right: "You don't have to disagree with Trump's policies to be rattled to the core by his unhinged behavior. Many congressional Republicans privately express concerns that range from apprehension to outright dread." Which raises another question: Why do GOP lawmakers remain so publicly cowed? Is it because they cherish their party's power more than they do America's principles?

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Bill Moyers is President of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy.

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