Donald Trump presidency, autocracy and resistance

United States President Donald Trump, his adviser Steve Bannon, neonazis and the Ku Klux Klan, cartoon

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

The Trump-Bannon government: Rule by decree

30 January 2017

The Trump administration’s order to halt the admission of refugees into the United States and bar entry to visitors and returning residents from seven countries—all majority-Muslim, all the targets of US military aggression or economic sanctions—underscores the unprecedented nature of the new government.

This is a government that will not be constrained by laws or the Constitution. Notwithstanding the fact that Trump is a minority president, his administration intends to utilize its control over the state to the maximum, operating on the principle that “possession is nine-tenths of the law.” It has already established a pattern of rule by decree.

Without any congressional vote, without any judicial process or finding of guilt for any crime, more than 100 people have been detained by federal customs and immigration agents and in some cases deported. The victims include the elderly, small children, wives returning to their husbands and people who have lived in the United States legally for many years, even decades. Hundreds more have been barred from boarding flights bound for the United States. And this is the toll just of the first weekend. The potential victims number in the many thousands, even millions.

A series of federal judges have issued court orders barring the deportations, ruling that there is a great likelihood that those challenging the Trump-ordered actions will be upheld once their cases are fully adjudicated. While some individuals have been released from detention, federal officials claim that the White House order is still in force and will be carried out.

The actions of the government in its first ten days make all the more sinister the central role being played by Trump’s “chief strategist,” Stephen K. Bannon. The media has largely downplayed the fact that Trump named Bannon, former boss of Breitbart News, a sounding board for the white supremacists, anti-Semites and neo-Nazis of the alt-right, to a White House position coequal with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

It was unmistakably Bannon’s voice sounding in Trump’s inaugural address, with its open embrace of the “America First” slogan first popularized by Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh in the early days of World War II. His speech followed the fascist model in appealing to genuine social grievances—the devastating decline in jobs and living standards in many industrial areas—while diverting popular anger away from the American capitalist elite and toward a politically useful scapegoat, in this case China, Mexico and other foreign countries.

Bannon, a former Goldman Sachs executive, Hollywood producer and ultra-right media mogul with no national security experience, is a fervent advocate of the racist and anti-immigrant stance expressed by Trump in a series of statements and executive orders last week, from the order to build a wall on the US-Mexico border, to a crackdown on so-called “sanctuary cities,” to Friday’s ban on travelers and refugees.

Trump underlined Bannon’s central position in his White House with an executive order Saturday restructuring the National Security Council (NSC), the principal White House instrument for directing foreign and military policy. The order added “the Assistant to the President and Chief Strategist,” namely Bannon, to the list of top officials entitled to attend every meeting of the Principals Committee, a subcommittee of the NSC that plays a critical role in preparing decisions for the president, and includes the national security adviser, the secretary of state and the secretary of defense.

The same order removed from the Principals Committee the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence.

There is one further action at the weekend that provides the most chilling insight into the mentality of Trump’s chief political adviser. The White House issued a statement commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day that lamented the “innocent people” murdered by the Nazis, but made no mention of Jews or anti-Semitism. A White House spokesman confirmed that the omission of Jews from the 117-word statement was deliberate and not a mistake.

This is a trope taken straight out of the playbook of the neo-Nazi alt-right: the Holocaust is emptied of its specific content, the attempted extermination of the Jewish population of Europe, and transformed into a generic tragedy in which many people were killed.

The Democratic Party will do nothing to oppose the march of the Trump administration towards authoritarian rule. The Democrats have devoted their efforts to playing down the extreme-right character of the new government while centering its criticisms on Trump’s conflict with US intelligence agencies.

Trump also follows Bush and Obama in excluding from sanctions Saudi Arabia, home of nearly all of the 9/11 hijackers, but also a source of vast wealth for American big business from oil and gas as well as arms contracts. This confirms that the executive order has nothing to do with defending the American people from terrorism: its purpose is to intimidate working people, both immigrant and native-born, and pave the way for a frontal assault on the democratic rights of the American people as a whole.

The events of this weekend have demonstrated the hollowed-out character of American democracy. In its contempt for democratic and constitutional norms, the Trump administration gives naked expression to the oligarchic character of American society. His method of government is the form of rule appropriate to the social forces that his billionaire cabinet and the entire political establishment represent.

The decisive question is the independent intervention of the working class, fighting for its own class interests, including the defense of immigrant workers.

This 28 January 2017 video from Texas in the USA is called A massive crowd at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport protests President Trump’s ban on some foreigners.

By Eric London in the USA:

30 January 2017

Protests against the Trump administration’s executive order banning travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries and all refugees spread across the country on Sunday, as the Homeland Security Department and immigration authorities continued to detain men, women and children denied entry to the US on the basis of the illegal executive order issued Friday by the new president.

Tens of thousands gathered at airports and city centers following initial demonstrations on Saturday after Trump and his top aides insisted the ban would be enforced despite court orders delaying the deportation of foreign citizens caught up in the anti-immigrant dragnet.

Many thousands demonstrated in New York; Los Angeles; Boston; Washington, DC and Houston. Demonstrations also took place in many Midwestern and rustbelt cities such as Cleveland, Wichita, Rochester, Minneapolis, Bloomington, Pittsburgh and Detroit.

Immigrants and legal permanent residents (green card holders) from the countries named in Friday’s order remain in detention, though the exact number is not known. Immigration officials have continued to block migrants from speaking to their attorneys. They have confiscated their personal belongings and searched their phones and computers. Officials reportedly seized the medication of two 80-year-old migrants and refused to return it to them while they were in captivity, placing their lives in danger.

Three federal courts issued stays or restraining orders on the executive order banning immigration from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Sudan. A federal court in Massachusetts ordered the administration to stop deporting and detaining migrants for seven days, while courts in Washington State and New York blocked immediate deportations but not the ongoing detainment of those entering the country.

None of the orders permanently halt the deportation program. Trump senior advisor Stephen Miller told the Associated Press that there was nothing in the court orders to “in any way impede or prevent the implementation of the president’s executive order, which remains in full, complete, and total effect.” Immigration officials at Washington, DC’s Dulles Airport reportedly ignored the federal court order and carried through the deportation of migrants.

Samer Khalef, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), told the World Socialist Web Site: “We are receiving phone calls from people whose family members are either stuck in another country or are stuck detained. They are breaking down and crying. It gets very emotional. People are fearful more than anything. Things that were previously not said in polite company are now being said by the government, normalizing the racism of the white supremacy movements.”

One Iranian student living in the US told the World Socialist Web Site: “I feel disoriented and I don’t know what the future entails. My 75-year-old grandfather who lives in Tehran has two sons living in the US now, and he has never met his granddaughter. Though he had gotten approved to come visit in March, he has now been declined and I worry we will not be able to ever see him again because if we leave we won’t be let back in.”

In response to the court orders and mass demonstrations, the Trump administration pledged to fully enforce its unconstitutional program. Trump tweeted Sunday: “Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world—a horrible mess!”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a statement Sunday morning saying, “President Trump’s Executive Orders remain in place—prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the US government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety.”

NBC News reported Sunday that the White House did not confer with the Justice Department, State Department or the Department of Defense, and that administration officials prevented National Security Council attorneys from reviewing the orders before their publication. The New York Times reported that Customs and Border Protection and the United States Citizen and Immigration Services were notified of the order only at the time Trump signed it.

Unnamed government officials told CNN that the Department of Homeland Security was briefed on the orders only on Friday night, and that the fascist White House chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, overruled a DHS request that the orders not apply to lawful permanent residents. Bannon insisted that immigration officials could use their discretion to bar green card holders on a case-by-case basis.

The Trump administration is also considering issuing a new order that would require all “foreign visitors to disclose all websites and social media sites they visit, and to share the contacts in their cell phone,” CNN reported. “If the foreign visitor declines to share such information, he or she could be denied entry.”

Immigration attorneys have established volunteer networks to provide legal advice to migrants at many airports across the country. Shani Smith Fisher, an attorney in Los Angeles, spent several hours at the airport yesterday providing support for incoming migrants and told the World Socialist Web Site: “There is a strong and enthusiastic presence from attorneys of all backgrounds. There are so many people joining the protest itself, it’s energized and there is a lot happening.”

The full extent of these orders has not yet been felt. Under the language of the orders, it is possible that immigrants from the seven named countries may be prevented not only from entering the United States, but from acquiring “other immigration benefits under the Immigration and Nationality Act,” meaning they may be barred from applying for legal permanent residency or citizenship, even if they have fulfilled all legal requirements.

The exact meaning of “extreme vetting” also remains unclear, but the order notes that migrants will be evaluated based on their “ability to make contributions to the national interest,” an anti-democratic provision that will be used to bar migrants on the basis of their political views. Though immigrants can already be barred for having left-wing political views under current law, the Trump administration is poised to enforce these reactionary provisos in a manner not seen since the anti-socialist Palmer Raids of the early 1920s.

This “national interest” vetting provision will serve as a further barrier to immigrants from Muslim countries. The racial animus driving Trump’s executive orders is exposed by his decision to prioritize immigrant petitions only from Christians.

The enactment of Trump’s measures lays the basis for police state conditions of rule in the United States. The prospect of mass internment centers for processing hundreds of thousands or millions of immigrants is not a distant possibility, but an imminent threat.

The administration’s efforts to whip up a climate of anti-immigrant hysteria are a sign that the government is preparing to attack the living standards and democratic rights of the entire working class. The defense of immigrants must be carried out as part of a broader defense of democratic rights. This requires a political perspective for the unification and mobilization of the working class, regardless of nationality, religion or immigrant status, on the basis of a socialist program.

2 thoughts on “Donald Trump presidency, autocracy and resistance

  1. Pingback: United States pro-refugee anti-Trump demonstrators interviewed | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Racists in the Trump administration | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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