(Fred Korematsu was the subject of yesterday’s Google Doodle)
All Americans should be scared about what’s going on right now, for non-partisan reasons:
1. The unprecedented concentration of power in Trump’s inner circle:
They’ve been creating a “shadow cabinet” since day one, inserting senior staff members into federal agencies who report to and are accountable to the Trump team. I’m not thrilled about his cabinet choices, but I’m not sure how much autonomy or power they’re giving them. Take the immigration ban: the DHS secretary learned about its timing of the immigration ban his employees were to enforce when he saw the President signing the executive order on TV.
This weekend’s promotion of Bannon to the NSC’s Principals Committee and the corresponding demotion of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence (“they’ll still get CC’d on invites, trust us!”) is another scary example of this bypassing traditional administrative structures. Even George W. Bush saw the value reducing the politicization of security decisions by prohibiting his senior political operative, Karl Rove, from sitting on NSC meetings.
2. The attack on Constitutional checks on Executive authority:
The Customs and Border Protection agency’s refused to abide by a federal court order, even when challenged by three (three!) Congressional representatives. I realize that Trump’s inner circle has the power to short-circuit auditing and other reality-checks within the Executive branch, but this defiance of a well-established Judicial check (and the symbolic gesture by the Legislative branch members) is just the first strike on the separation of powers. What’s next?
3. Singling out groups for discriminatory behavior in the name of national security:
In 1924, Congress passed the “Immigration Act of 1924”, which history knows better as the Asian Exclusion Act, which basically shut down immigration by Asians (and Jews from Southern and Eastern Europe). It was fueled by racism and antisemitism and fed another generation of harsh discrimination against the Japanese, culminating in Executive Order 9066 by Roosevelt in 1942, which forced anyone of Japanese descent (including American citizens) residing on the West Coast into desert concentration camps.
Today’s Google Doodle honors Fred Korematsu, who challenged the constitutionality of the Japanese-American Internment. The interment was a racist act ordered for reasons of national security. Even though many Americans saw the Japanese nationals and US citizens living among them as a threat, there was no evidence, contemporary or in the decades since, that anyone planned or participated in attacks against Americans. All were deprived of due process, solely on the basis of national origin (and their current residence in the US).
If my mother had come to the US a few decades earlier, we’d have been locked in those camps.
We’ve been down this road over and over, folks, and each time we as a nation have come to repudiate these ugly, discriminatory actions.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I’m scared, and I’m going to fight.
I have hope in our outrage, our protests, our voices, and our phone calls.
I have hope in the free press.
I have hope in the constitutional separation of powers. I have hope that more Republicans like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Evan McMullin will choose our democracy over their party.
And I have hope in the ineptitude and lack of experience of the Trump administration.