Peaceful protesters should be applauded, not reprimanded

February 9, 2017 — by Amith Galivanche

Protesters agaisnt Donald Trump are good. 

Though it has not even been a full month since President Donald Trump took office, hundreds or maybe even thousands of protests have taken place, with millions of Americans speaking out against a man they feel has no place in the Oval Office.

Trump and his defenders have labeled the protesters as “immature” and “divisive,” and cited the violent protest at UC Berkeley, where Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, a critic of feminism and Muslim immigration and a Trump supporter, was invited to speak by the UC Berkeley Campus Republicans. The protest actually started off as peaceful, until “Black Bloc” protesters, anarchists who cover their faces, wear all black clothing and arm themselves with crude weapons, came to the protest and began destroying property and starting fires. Blaming the actions of these rioters on the UC Berkeley student community is akin to blaming terrorism on Islam.

The peaceful protesters, however, are simply exercising their First Amendment rights. Not only are these protesters justified in their actions, but their actions deserve praise.

Even before taking office, Trump displayed alarming qualities like narcissism, bigotry and arrogance. He channeled his incompetence in making poor and irresponsible choices for critical cabinet positions, most notably billionaire Betsy DeVos as secretary of Education, neurosurgeon Ben Carson as secretary of Housing and Urban Development and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of State.

DeVos and Tillerson are both unqualified and have too many conflicts of interest to carry out their duties responsibly. Tillerson has ties too deep with Russia to handle the diplomacy aspect of his position, and DeVos’ only experience in education is her fierce advocacy for privatization of the American public school system.

Additionally, Carson, who ran against Trump in the primaries before suspending his campaign to support Trump, has been nominated to direct a department that is miles away from his current professional career. Though Carson is an accomplished pediatric neurosurgeon, he has absolutely no experience with urban public policy, and Trump’s reasons for nominating him are vague.

When a president appoints individuals to his cabinet with no regard for the American people, patriotic Americans cannot and should not be passive. These protesters are sending a message to the president and to all Americans that the people of this country will not blindly support him simply because he holds the highest office in the nation. The protesters assert that they will never support him if he continues to disregard the needs of American citizens in favor of his petty agenda.

In addition to his irresponsible picks for cabinet members, Trump is indisputably a misogynist. He has a history of objectifying women and has crusaded against women’s reproductive rights. Unless we stand up to Trump and send him some kind of message, as the millions who participated in the Women’s March did on Jan. 21, misogyny may become normalized in the White House over the course of the next four years.

Aside from all of his other actions, Trump’s ill-informed, impractical immigration policy gives the American people grave reasons to be up in arms.

Aside from his proposed $12 billion taxpayer-funded Mexican border wall — which would do little to stop illegal immigration from other continents or undocumented immigrants who overstay their visas — Trump issued an executive order on Jan. 27 that banned U.S. entry from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days and indefinitely suspended entry of Syrian refugees, all in the name of national security. Trump ignored the fact that since 9/11, not a single person from one of those countries has committed an act of terrorism on United States soil. However, the ban did keep children, international students, medical doctors and refugees out from entering the country.

Americans of all racial and religious backgrounds, many of whom were shocked to hear that the United States government would act in such an immoral and constitutionally questionable manner, responded by protesting at airports nationwide. Several immigration lawyers even held signs offering legal assistance to people from the affected countries being interrogated.

This sent the message to Trump and his administration that much of the American populace, perhaps even a majority, do not agree with their actions. On Feb. 3, James Robart, a federal judge in Seattle, halted the immigration order nationwide, which almost certainly would not have happened had the American people accepted the ban without resistance.

These protesters are concerned American citizens who are willing to take the time to ensure that this type of behavior and decision-making in the White House is never normalized — because it should never be.

As Martin Niemoller, a Hitler-dissenter who spent time in Nazi concentration camps, once said, “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.”

Americans should learn from Niemoller’s lesson and stand up to Trump through protest. Given what he has done so far, there is no predicting what comes next.

1 view this week