“The opposite of justice is not injustice; it’s silence. We can’t be silent now.”
Thanks to a passionate speech by Cory Booker at Dulles International Airport
during protests to the new President’s travel and immigration ban, I realized that so many of my fellow citizens, like me, don’t quite understand what to do with this avalanche of unrest and engineered confusion that is our current political climate.
And often, I’ll hear the familiar refrain, “it’s too upsetting, so I don’t watch the news/go on Twitter/read Facebook/talk about politics.”
I get that. I really do. But…
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”
– Desmond Tutu
I don’t generally get political, because I support the rights of private individuals to fight for what they believe in. Also, I don’t really understand political theory and practice. I DO understand that politicians in general will be aware of getting re-elected, which I believe gets in the way of their effectiveness at their job. (Personally, I’d like to see term limits. But that’s not going to happen.)
But sometimes, as our passionate Senator Booker from New Jersey so perfectly puts it, the opposite of justice is NOT injustice. It’s silence.
Sunday, 29 January 2017: Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), at Dulles International Airport, speaking to protestors against President Trump’s travel ban.
But the next step after deciding to no longer be silent must be understanding. Because there’s nothing quite as pointless as discourse that devolves into circular reasoning and logical fallacies because we can’t argue sound bites. We have to understand that which we defend. I’m rather annoyed with passionate citizens insulting anyone with opposing views by throwing forth [insert asinine adjectives here] instead of reason. And “do your research; it’s on Google” is the war cry of anyone who doubles-down on repeating a mantra without understanding the meaning.
I don’t trust groupthink in general, and I ESPECIALLY don’t trust political groupthink. This specific version of political groupthink, however, feels more insidious by the day.
“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.
Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented” – Elie Wiesel
Having an Executive Office devoid of protocols set forth to prevent whiplash politicking (because an entire nation can’t turn on a dime), led by someone who doesn’t seem to understand the highly intricate dialogues and strategies inherent in domestic and global relationships, coupled with a party controlling ALL aspects of our government without adequate checks and balances, is beginning to erode our national foundation.
So. We have a flurry of activity from the Oval Office, followed by a LOT of “hey now…” and protests and legal corrections and partisan pandering. We have a nation that has suddenly about-faced on a fundamental aspect of our national identity – namely, the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty, “Mother of Exiles.” We have quiet strains of anti-otherness (pick your oppression; there are many) that are affecting laws that govern our entire citizenry. It’s troubling at best.
…it’s not just about immigration.
While we were busy packing airports, three Executive Orders quietly came through. We need to understand what is happening. Many Executive Orders have come through during these first days of Trump’s Administration. Some have been expected; some have …not.
(read all Executive Orders at Whitehouse.gov, since mine are -sloppily- paraphrased below.)
We all know about this one:
“…The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall immediately conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat…”
But here are more:
Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs:
On the expenditure of funds, from both public, taxpayer, and private sources, this order is intended to reduce costs associated with the compliance with Federal regulations. For every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations must be identified for elimination. The total incremental cost of all new regulations, including repealed regulations, to be finalized for fiscal year 2017, will be $0.
And then there’s the sudden, quiet reorganization of the National Security Council.
Presidential Memorandum: Organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council.
Every President determines how he is briefed on matters of national importance, whether it’s about the economy, military actions, natural resources, governance, and so on. So it’s no surprise that President Trump decided to re-organize the NSC.
What is interesting, however, is the apparent shuffling of official military and intelligence community leaders away from the central roles in the Council, and the appointment of a political leader, Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon, to the council. This reshuffling and role-adjusting on the National Security Council is still vague, but has the troubling aspect of political influence on a military and security-focused council. Politico.com breaks down the roles and the reasoning, and also seems to anticipate a radical departure from protocol.
Steve Bannon is now in the top ranks of the National Security Council. He needs Senate confirmation and approval in order to serve on the Council because he is a private citizen. This law has never been tested until now. MSNBC analyst Jonathan Alter discovered this law last night, 30 January. Trump likely didn’t know that Bannon would require Senate approval.
Pay close attention to (6) below:
(a) Establishment; presiding officer; functions; composition
There is established a council to be known as the National Security Council (hereinafter in this section referred to as the “Council”).
The President of the United States shall preside over meetings of the Council: Provided, That in his absence he may designate a member of the Council to preside in his place.
The function of the Council shall be to advise the President with respect to the integration of domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to the national security so as to enable the military services and the other departments and agencies of the Government to cooperate more effectively in matters involving the national security.
The Council shall be composed of—
(1) the President;
(2) the Vice President;
(3) the Secretary of State;
(4) the Secretary of Defense;
(5) the Secretary of Energy; and
(6) the Secretaries and Under Secretaries of other executive departments and of the military departments, when appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to serve at his pleasure.
We have yet to see how this plays out. Granted, President Trump has proven to be rather impulsive, and forceful with his opinions and his political views. Breaking from established political protocols might be “refreshing” to citizens who have long learned to look at politics, and media, and inclusive/global views with suspicion. But one quiet, rather timely idea looms amid these orders and policies that have been enacted in a little over a week since the new Administration moved in:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
—Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)