It has been almost one week since Mr. Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. In the days since his inauguration, we as a nation have witnessed, among other things:
- An immediate removal of the Climate change, Immigration, Healthcare, and Civil rights pages from the official White House website
- An immediate prohibition against several government agencies, disallowing them from speaking to the press or using social media, with the exception of communication with the press that has already been vetted and approved by the White House (Leslie Knope wants you to support our scientists and National Parks by following these alternative branches on Twitter!)
- An executive order approving progress on the DAPL and Keystone XL
- A ban on immigrants from many countries, especially targeting those with predominantly Muslim communities, as well as working to defund sanctuary cities and those that do not aid in the deportation of current undocumented citizens
- An order to proceed with building the border wall between the United States and Mexico, which will be funded by taxpayer money, to be reimbursed by Mexico at a later date (Since this statement was issued, Mexico’s President cancelled a meeting with Mr. Trump, while Mr. Trump has claimed a 20% increase on imports from Mexico)
- An investigation into voter fraud
- A series of lies regarding the rise of violence and murder in Philadelphia
- A press conference held for the purpose of chastising the media for their purported lies regarding the crowd size of Donald Trump’s inauguration (See: alternative facts)
- A reinstatement of a global gag rule – which hasn’t existed since the Reagan era – which defunds NGOs which are involved in abortions
- An abhorrent selection of candidates for Cabinet
- A plan to reinstate torture (i.e. waterboarding)
- A vote to make the Hyde Amendment permanent law
This list could go on, and we are only on day six of four years. In these six days, we have also seen a rising dissent among the American people, and the world, for the policies that Trump has already put in place and seems to be gearing up to put in place. Granted, one can’t fault him for actually following through on his campaign promises – a reason, I am sure, many voted for him. In a previous article, I spoke on the American people’s lack of enthusiasm for another empty promise candidate to take the Oval Office. However, Trump’s promises should never have been made, let alone acted upon. To ban government agencies from speaking to the media or using social networking is a direct violation of our 1st Amendment right. Imagine how different these last six days would have been if those same people who would defend their 2nd Amendment would also, with the same fire and passion, defend the 1st Amendment right to free speech and press. To order that any organization with ties to abortion will be defunded and left out to dry is to perpetuate a problem, not find a solution. Building a bigger wall between the U.S. and Mexico borders and forcing Mexico to pay will only hurt relations with the country, not dissuade immigrants from trying to enter our country. The laws and orders that Mr. Trump and his administration are so hastily enacting require time and research, and a valid insight as to the advantages and repercussions of passing such legislation. To simply say that expanding a wall will quell illegal immigration, or voting to prevent taxpayer money from funding abortions will lower the abortion rate, is a preposterous and dangerous assumption.
Twenty five years ago, I was born in India. However, for twenty five years I have lived in the United States, and have been blessed and fortunate enough to never feel that I am less than any other person who was born here; less because I am a woman, less because I am not white, less because I am a naturalized citizen, less because I may not have the social or monetary status as so many others have. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many of those who live in this country, and the Trump administration is only working to fuel this feeling of dread and hopelessness. Before I go any further, it is imperative that I state: I do not want Donald Trump to fail. I truly believe that if he fails, we as a country fail. However, I will not sit idly by while a hypocritical, sexist, misogynistic predator and his mum followers lead our country into disarray. I choose not to believe that all those who voted for Mr. Trump share all his ideals, but I also choose to respectfully disagree with them that he should hold the highest power that can be held in this country. I cannot believe that he has earned my respect simply because he was elected. Had Hillary Clinton been elected, should I believe that she would receive the same respect from those that claim Mr. Trump deserves mine? Should I believe that those same men that have never, and could never, bear a child are allowed to decide what I must do with my body? Should I believe that those that spit in the face of the sanctity of marriage are allowed to decide who is and isn’t allowed to get married? Should I believe that those who have never gotten to know the very people they claim are terrorists or illegal immigrants are allowed to mandate who is and isn’t allowed to come to this country? Should I believe that those who claim they want to “make our country great again” truly care about their country by damaging relations with foreign alliances and wasting taxpayer money, while for years we have citizens who do not have clean drinking water? Respect is earned, never given. So, Mr. Trump, prove to me that you deserve my respect. Those who follow you and support you, prove to me that you deserve my respect. The United States is one of the greatest countries for so many reasons, but if the last six days prove anything, it is that our greatness is a mirage. The gates for hypocrisy and intolerance have been opened, but in the process so have the gates for love and justice. For every person who supports Donald Trump’s claim that global warming is a hoax and believes he has a right to stop the spread of this knowledge and scientific facts, there stands a horde ready to defend our planet and support our National Parks and scientists. For every person who supports Donald Trump’s beliefs that we are a staunchly pro-life country and abortion should be outlawed, there stands a horde ready to promote sex education and preventative measures and support women in their own personal decisions. For every person who supports Donald Trump’s beliefs that all Muslims or immigrants are threats to our nation, there stands a horde ready to defend those who are labeled as less than simply for following a different religion or being born a different color. For every person who supports Donald Trump’s beliefs that his position in office will not affect women, the LGBTQ community, or POC, there stands a horde ready to march and make their voices heard. I choose to believe that the greatness of our country is not a mirage, but an ever-changing testament to our steps in science, technology, politics, arts, education, and acceptance. These are the things that make America great. For every act, piece of legislation, or law that tells us we cannot, a thousand voices will shout out “Yes we can!” Of course, we still have a long way to go. I firmly believe in equality and justice for all, though I do not believe it comes with the price of violence and attacking a child simply because you do not have the same beliefs as his or her parents. But I do believe in peaceful protests and making your voice heard. The Women’s March was just the beginning, Mr. Trump. Even there, we have a long way to go. To claim you march for equality, but so blatantly disregard those that have a different viewpoint from yours and disallow them from marching is proof enough. Those who claim that “we have it much better here and shouldn’t whine” or that “we should suffer under Sharia law and then we’ll have something to complain about” need to understand that because one person or one group of people is suffering, it does not diminish the suffering of another person or group of people. Those who claim protests will accomplish nothing should remember that protests are what shaped our history.
If we are to get through these next four years, we need to fight together for what’s right, and remind those that tell us “No” because we have different beliefs or opinions or because we aren’t showing enough respect to the administration that is showing us none in the first place, that this country was founded on different beliefs and protests. Our differences are what makes this country thrive, and we should all take a moment to step into each other’s shoes; simply because you are not suffering the same way another person is, doesn’t mean you should condemn that person to suffer. We should not admonish those who are in a position of power and have a platform (actors, actresses, musicians, artists, athletes, etc.) because they raise their voices and stand for what they believe in. Together, we must fight for a woman’s right to decide what she can and cannot do with her body; together, we must fight for the rights of our LGBTQ community to not be discriminated against simply because of how they identify or who they love; together, we must fight for violence against minorities or those of different religions to end; together, we must fight for our scientists and researchers to be allowed to work and to publish their work, and for media outlets and reporters to do their jobs, without fear and without being bullied; together, we must fight for true equality between men and women in areas such as, but not limited to, promoting STEM education, maternal and paternal leave, pay, and protection and resources for survivors of assault of any kind; together, we must fight for the stigma against mental health to end, and for access to proper mental healthcare; together, we must fight for violence by and against our police forces to end; together, we must fight for quality education for all; together, we must fight to make sure that our country and our planet is protected from greed and big business; together, we must fight to ensure nobody feels unsafe in their home, fearing that they could be ripped from their beds or beaten in the streets at any moment simply because of who they are or what they look like; together, we must fight to protect each other from what is to come if this country is truly divided. Together, we must understand that we all have different opinions, but that we must respect each other’s opinions and respect each other. No name calling, no fighting, no bullying – only respect. And the greatest part about the United States? I believe we can come together and accomplish all of these things and so much more.