Trump’s equal opportunity discrimination
By Dorothy Inman-Johnson
Special to the Outlook
It is a wonder to me that a man who bullied the disabled, women, every ethnic group that didn’t lick his boots, paid no taxes for 10 years even while bragging about his $10 billion income, and left regular folks like us to pay all the taxes to support the country, could have convinced so many Americans to elect him to the highest office in the land. His appeal had to be a combination of people who were either terribly uninformed, racists, or willing to put identity politics ahead of the interests and welfare of Americans and our country.
We now have a President who does not have the respect of a majority of Americans, based on every poll, because he shows no respect for our right to equal protection under the law. Just look at Trump’s actions since his inauguration. He has appointed a cabinet of former or current Klan members who have vowed to turn back the clock on civil rights, and Wall Street billionaires who almost destroyed the U.S. economy before President Obama saved the country from bankruptcy. Evidence is Trump, Bannon, and Session’s declared intent to give up enforcement of civil rights, voting rights, and discrimination at the federal level, and move us backwards by leaving enforcement to states. This is out of the pages of the Jim Crow play book that would leave vulnerable populations with no options for protection if states choose to pass restrictive voter ID laws, and we are denied redress through the U.S. Justice Department. And what happens when the next rogue law enforcement officer shoots an innocent, unarmed Black person and the state refuses to prosecute?
With anti-discrimination laws being rolled back under President Trump, can we expect an increase in housing and employment discrimination? What about this administration’s plans to eliminate environmental laws that protect our drinking water and the air we breathe in order to appease rich businesses that pollute and endanger our health? The EPA that Republicans want to eliminate is the federal agency that enforces environmental laws and hold states accountable for preventing another Flint Michigan fiasco. Businesses want no regulations because it allows them to get wealthy at the expense of the rest of us. Some of these regulations they want to eliminate include workplace safety regulations, fair wage and hour laws, including those governing overtime pay, increase in the minimum wage, and family medical leave.
Rounding up and deporting every Mexican immigrant brought to America as children, who have been following ICE rules under the Obama administration, is a violation that Americans of conscience should not allow. Trump claims they are being deported because they are dangerous criminals. Not true. The President has refused to release the list of those being deported as well as information on the crimes they supposedly committed. Of those identified through news agencies, their crimes amount to traffic tickets or working under a false ID. Those can hardly be considered dangerous crimes. Many were deported leaving children who were born here. It is ironic that Cubans have always been allowed to enter the country with few restrictions, but Mexicans and Haitians have been turned away even when they were fleeing their countries for the same reasons the Cubans were given a safe and welcoming entry. Could it be that a higher percentage of Cubans vote Republican?
Discrimination in public K-12 and post secondary education could leave us with separate, but unequal state education systems and no place to turn at the federal level for protection if the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice abdicate their responsibilities. President Obama was able to save and pump $67 billion more into Pell Grants and loans by eliminating banks from the process, and handling these programs directly. Trump’s pro-business at-any-cost administration is prepared to put these dollars back in the hands of the banks and deny the opportunity for college to many low and moderate income students. Trump’s decision to override President Obama’s Executive Order allowing transgender children and adults to use whatever restrooms that match their gender identity, even though there was no evidence of a problem, is simply another form of discrimination. I acknowledge that many religious groups have problems with the LGBT community. However, Black people in particular cannot forget that before the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, we were considered property and had no rights a White man needed to respect based on the 1857 Dred Scott Supreme Court decision. Even the Native-Americans, the only none immigrants in this country, are being robbed of their land, environmental health and safety for the enrichment of the oil industry. In 2017 in this country, everyone deserves equal protection against discrimination.
A wise man, Thomas Jefferson, said “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” This is not the time to stand silently by as Trump erases every gain we have made in the last five decades. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best_ “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people_ but for the appalling silence of the good people”_ if we are content to do nothing.
Dorothy Inman-Johnson is host of Just the Facts_ a weekly, progressive radio talk show on WTAL 1450 AM Radio, newspaper columnist, author of Poverty, Politics, and Race in America and Lessons from America’s Best and Worst Cities, former Tallahassee Mayor and City Commissioner, and former long- time educator.