“I’m here to tell you it’s not going to be as bad as you think.” The echoes of these words follow me into so many places. People who do not find themselves or groups that they are a part of being specifically targeted by recent events think that their consolation is in some way, significant. The power of words is not solely based on the intent with which they are said, but also in the truth that they convey. The election of Donald Trump and the intent of Republican legislatures in both houses of Congress is a threat to many people: women, racial minorities, religious minorities, sexual minorities, transgender people, Native Americans, and more. If I have left anyone out, it is because it is difficult to keep track of Trump’s garrulous, malicious campaign (and soon to be Presidency).
This week, news came that Mike Lee and Ted Cruz have decided to reintroduce the First Amendment Defense Act in the next session of Congress. With a republican majority, this is something that will likely be passed and signed into law. The first amendment defense act, prohibits “discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage” (according to the House version of the bill, which I believe better reflects what the end result would be). This law would prevent the federal government from levying any penalty against businesses that engage in discriminatory practices specifically against LGBT people, or people who are perceived to be LGBT. It specifically, maliciously targets LGBT people and does nothing to actually defend the first amendment, unless the first amendment was intended to become a tool to oppress. It would also prevent the government from distributing federal contracts to firms on the basis of whether or not they discriminate.
Additionally, Donald Trump has stood by his campaign promise to create a Muslim registry. Republican and Democratic legislators have expressed severe criticism for this measure, but that doesn’t remove the permissive attitude of hatred which Trump has legitimized. Unfortunately, the legislative basis for a Muslim registry has already been passed and so the only way for Congress to prevent the Trump administration from applying it is to repeal the section of the IRRIRA which allows it.
Something not to be underestimated is the resurgence in white nationalist thought in the wake of Trump’s election. White nationalists have supported Donald Trump to an alarming degree. Hearkening back to the time when America was “great” increases his support among those groups who wax nostalgic about a time when racist and bigoted policies weren’t seen as wrong among much of society. When people who have historically been oppressed hear “Make America Great Again,” it shouldn’t be a surprise that they think back on the same times, but associate very different emotions with it. Trump’s message and proposed policies have created a seeming permissiveness of hatred. It contributes to the problems I see at the University of Alabama, where my peers, friends and colleagues are being targeted because of the color of their skin. This is only one example of that:
These things stand alongside the likelihood that Planned Parenthood will be defunded, that Trump has admitted to sexually assaulting women, that he is supportive of stop and frisk, etc. etc.
So I’ll ask, do you really think the next four years aren’t going to be as bad as I think?