Day: February 3, 2017

A picture of American shame

By MICHAEL GERSON  The image of President Donald Trump, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis, signing an executive order that (among other things) excludes Syrian refugees from America, is indelible. Three powerful American leaders, targeting and dehumanizing some of the most vulnerable people on earth. A picture of bullying. A picture of cruelty. A picture of national shame. It sits in my head beside images of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, bewildered by the loss of their old lives, assets depleted, living (in some cases) eight to a room, exploited by human traffickers. Many families feel compelled to put their boys to work and their girls into early, forced marriages. “My home is all broken in Syria,” a girl of 6 told me while coloring a kinetic picture of helicopters and bombs. Trump is a champion at punching down, but seldom this far. This executive order is a security measure that very few actual security professionals would prioritize, given that refugees are some of the most carefully vetted people who enter the country. Meanwhile, the downside of (in effect) targeting foreigners by their religion is immediate and considerable—worrying American Muslims and embarrassing America’s Muslim friends and allies in the world. When some radical cleric in, say, Central Asia, says, “The new American president hates Islam,” he does not require a conspiracy theory to...

Read More

Early impressions shaky

Granted, it’s early to make conclusions about our new president and his cabinet.  Nevertheless, there are a couple of serious concerns here that have already come up in the past two weeks. The U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights and political traditions have established freedoms that have not been seen, even considered, in many parts of the world.  They are (1) a free and fair vote and (2) a free and respected press. These are two premises upon which our American society, its values and standards, has been built and have endured the tests of time for more than two hundred years. President Donald J. Trump now insists, regarding the last election, the one that elected him, that there were three to five million who voted illegally and, further, that these fraudulent voters cast their ballots for his opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton: This proven would enable Trump—who won the Electoral College vote—to claim the popular vote which every pertinent fact on the subject has denied him so far. He demands that an investigation take place even though there is a total lack of evidence to back up his assertion while a universal conclusion has been reached that there was no fraud.   When Trump makes charges of this kind he reinforces the prejudices of his true believers, who apparently believe, without question, everything he says, while, in doing so, they undermine confidence in our democracy which, as we know from history, is a fragile condition. Another matter that confounds is Trump’s assault...

Read More
  • 1
  • 2