If you thought the January 21st global march was just a flash in the pan, frustrated liberals having trouble accepting the fact they lost, think again. As the first week of the Trump Presidency unfolded people previously apathetic to politics started to notice – and act.
The latest episode involves a bizarre decision to indefinitely suspend accepting Syrian refugees, to suspend accepting other refugees for 120 days, and to bar any immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen entrance for 90 days. Steve Bannon, recently named to the National Security Council (NSC) by President Trump, personally intervened to assure that even green card holders from those countries could not enter.
The claim is that the US needs to protect itself from terrorism. Yet the ban did not include Saudi Arabia or Egypt. Most of the 9-11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. The ban on green card holders from entering the countries created turmoil in airports across America as residents from the affected countries were held up. Only an injunction by a federal judge overruled that part of the Trump order.
It’s clear this order was drafted without thinking through all the consequences. No guidance was given to states or airport security. US military in Iraq were furious; not only does this affect interpreters and Iraqis that have been working with the US, but it increases anger at America and risks their safety. There are only 5000 soldiers there in advisory roles, but the military was not consulted about the impact of this move.
This points back to Steve Bannon. The man who pushed Trump to a bombastic, radical campaign style was the head of sensationalist (and not always trustworthy) Breitbart news, a right wing internet source. He was known for wild claims and headlines, and people were shocked last year when Trump gave him a major role in his campaign.
Now, though, he’s in the White House alongside Trump. His elevation to the NSC came alongside a move to make the role of the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff optional rather than required. Senator John McCain harshly criticized both moves as putting a political operative ahead of the top military man in the White House. He is a PR man, not an expert on foreign policy. He has no business on the NSC, especially a larger role than the Chair of the Joint Chiefs!
It’s clear that Trump has put himself in Bannon’s hands. It was Bannon, not Trump, behind the new executive order. I suspect Bannon’s been the force advocating the silencing of government workers and agencies, and some of the questionable cabinet picks. In fact, I think Bannon is the one calling the shots. He knows how to play on Trump’s insecurities, and Trump likely credits him with his November victory.
This should worry everyone. Trump isn’t a Hitler, he’s an insecure con man in way over his head. Bannon, on the other hand, looks to start a global alt right movement, potentially connecting with far right parties in Europe in an effort to undermine the traditional conservatism of past decades.
The Republican party must not let Bannon and Trump hijack their party – he’s rejecting the core beliefs that have guided the GOP for decades. But more important the protests must continue and turn into on going action. The people can make sure Bannon/Trump don’t succeed. This administration is not normal. It is not conservative. It does not reflect the values that made America great.