dear mr. trump: it’s not what you did, it’s how you did it

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Protests at Los Angeles International Airport, Sunday January 29

Ever hear that phrase, It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it? I got that a lot growing up. I think I had a problem with tone (as in, I only had one, and it was what we call, “snotty”). Or have you ever seen that State Farm commercial about two ladies talking about a couch one just had to have, and then seeing two thieves in her house saying the exact same thing about the couch, only they’re talking about stealing it?

Who you are on the inside, often gives a lot of meaning to your words, the intent of your actions on the outside. In which case, Trump is sort of screwed. (Which also makes me think of another phrase: You made your bed, and you’ll have to lie in it. You led quite the campaign, sir.)

You can try to justify the executive order to restrict travel from the chosen predominantly Muslim countries if it makes you feel better about your chosen president and the country you live in. But you can’t deny his desire for, “a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” Because, I mean, I can replay it for you if I must. Trump loves an audience.

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This is what America looks like, DIA. Photo Cred: Jeff Short

You can say, but, but Obama did it! (not exactly). But if you still insist that it’s the same thing, why didn’t these widespread airports protests happen back then? Because we liked our president? I mean, I didn’t even vote for Obama second term. That’s right folks, I also vote Republican, and damn, Mitt Romney lookin’ reeeeal good right ’bout now. You too, McCain, you too. Single tear emoji. The reaction wasn’t the same, because it’s not the same thing. Two decent comparisons worth reading: FactCheck.org and Snopes

You can pretend that detaining a seven-year-old child at an airport for hours, keeping him from his mother is a great example of extreme vetting (it’s not). You can pretend that legal permanent U.S. residents weren’t detained at airports (they were). You can pretend that the President of the United States of America mocking someone’s emotions is a presidential thing to do (um, no, not even if they are fake). You don’t get to mock people, Mr. President. This isn’t the Apprentice. Get with the program, or get out (see what I did there?)

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I was trying to secretly get his photo, but he caught me and smiled. I said I liked his sign. He said thanks, and held up his hand, like a high-five, but he squeezed my hand in a way that felt more personal than any touch I’ve felt in a long time.

You can believe Trump when he says, “This is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion (it is when you give preference to Christian refugees) – this is about terror and keeping our country safe.” But if you believe him, you should ask yourself why certain countries, you know, like Saudi Arabia, weren’t on that list. I mean, that’s where the 9/11 attackers came from…right? Wasn’t that like, the ultimate attack on America? Maybe it’s just a coincidence he has business ties to the “scary” countries not on the ban list? And if it’s because he just “used those same countries Obama listed,” somebody he thought was weak on terrorism, we should note 2017 is not the same as 2011 and as President it’s time to do some of your own legwork. Not to mention, none of the countries on the ban list have killed any American on U.S soil?  But hey man, thanks for keeping me safe here in America. Not totally convinced you helped my safety in traveling anywhere outside of the States, but fuck it, America first, amiright? Who gives a shit about learning other cultures, experiencing other lands, understanding there’s more than just us in this great big world? USA! USA! (For the record, I will continue to travel abroad, maybe even more intensely, if only to make sure everyone knows, Trump is NOT America.)

You can even believe Trump when he blames an airline glitch for the disorder at international airports across the country. But for the past decade, I’ve spend almost two full days a week hanging out in airports or up in the air. I’ve been victim of countless “airline glitches,” just survived another United one two weeks ago. Which is why I feel qualified to tell you what I witnessed in LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal on Sunday was NOT the result of an airline glitch. It was a large organized group of people, from all races and religions, standing up for their Muslim brothers and sisters in unity. It was the group of attorneys, ready to take cases, provide counsel for any person who needed it. The disorder and fear came from real people, even those legal with permission to be in America, being told, “Uh, hey, yeah, we don’t know why exactly, but you aren’t welcome here…anymore. As of like, a few hours ago…soooo…BRB.” Also, I can’t remember the last time police in riot gear showed up for an airline glitch. But shoot, maybe I’m the one not paying attention.

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We’re standing outside LAX. Behind the “No Humans Are Illegal” is a group of the police in riot gear.

But let’s put aside this thing he did for a second. And let’s talk about how he did it.

If we can agree on anything: this executive order wasn’t well executed. People were confused, man. Airport officials were confused. Families were confused. Government officials were confused. Pretty much EVERYONE was like, “Umm, sooooo, yeah…I feel like I should know this…and this might sound stupid…but like, what is happening again?”

There was absolutely no evidence that something like this needed to be done quickly. We were under no immediate threat. GOP lawmakers said their offices had no hand in drafting the order and received no briefings from the White House on how it should work. Even Newt Gingrich conceded that coordination could have been better. It did not appear to have gone through the Department of Justice or any of the people who actually know a thing or two about constitutional law, or you know, government. It didn’t appear to go through anyone really, aside from Trump’s inner circle of friends. Even the Defense Secretary and Homeland Security Secretary claim to have not been aware of the details of the directive until around the time Trump signed it. Leading intelligence officers were left in the dark. Basically, everyone knows it could have been done better. Like…way, way better.

In other words, some pretty key folks weren’t abreast of the situation. (Yes, I love using the word abreast. I picture informed chickens with boobs and it makes me laugh. And I seriously need to laugh right now.) Meanwhile, Trump is knighting Bannon, as the newest member of the National Security Council’s principals committee and demoting the director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Oh goodie. As a reminder of Steve Bannon’s credentials: former naval officer, former head of Breitbart News, a far-right media outlet that has promoted conspiracy theories and is a platform for the alt-right movement, which espouses white nationalism. Oh man, if that don’t make me feel secure, I don’t know what will.

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We’re all immigrants here.

It’s times like these I need to remind myself, we still have the other government branches!! (for now) (don’t we?) (oh shit). As a reminder of why we have branches, please read this excerpt from my absolute favorite political website, Congress For Kids:

Delegates at the Constitutional Convention also wanted to divide power within the federal government. They did not want these powers to be controlled by just one man or one group. The delegates were afraid that if a small group received too much power, the United States would wind up under the rule of another dictator or tyrant. (gulp)

To avoid the risk of dictatorship or tyranny, the group divided the new government into three parts, or branches: the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch. Imagine a triangle. At the top is the Executive Branch. The two bottom corners are the Judicial Branch and the Legislative Branch – also called Congress. Each part of the government is connected to the other. Each has its own responsibilities and powers. A system of checks and balances prevents one branch from gaining too much power.

The Muslim ban/restriction/whateverwordyoufindappropriate did not scare me. It wasn’t the only reason I was out there protesting at LAX. Trump is doing exactly what he said he would do, and I never doubted him for a minute. I expected this. It’s not so much what he is doing, but how he’s doing it, that is concerning. Without important and necessary council. Without any input. Without a second thought (and if he knows what he is doing, even more terrifying). But, Mr. Trump, you’re President now. Before signing pieces of paper, you actually have to think about what your signature means, hint: it’s not for adoring fans. You have to look ahead, around all of the corners. I know it’s hard, I spend my life paralyzed by decisions because I look so far forward, I drive myself crazy.

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This land was made for you and me.

You can tell me not to spread hysteria, and give him a chance, but how many chances must we give him? He’s exactly who he said he was. Trump voters reassured me again and again, “Don’t be dramatic, he’s just saying that to get elected. He’s not really going to do it.” Well folks, he’s really doing it. Banning people he perceives as terrorists, building walls, threatening the free press, jeopardizing our national parks, forgetting science is a real thing, ALTERNATIVE FACTS!?!, using his trademark “You’re fired!” to absolutely anyone who disagrees with him, ignoring the cries of the majority of America (please don’t tell me you still think he won the popular vote) and simply doing whatever the heck he wants. His administration doesn’t regret not mentioning Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day originally established specifically because so many countries (Russia, Iran, Poland) choose not to acknowledge the specific plight of the Jews during the Holocaust, because ALL LIVES MATTER? Has he forgotten Hitler was specifically trying to exterminate the Jewish people? Or does he consider history fake news too?  Tell me, when is it appropriate to be concerned?

#NotMyPresident, is not a cute hashtag people are using to resist the election results. He is, very literally, pretending we (the new forgotten America?) do not exist. Refusing to acknowledge the Women’s Marches across the world, for what they were. Blaming airport chaos on anything but a direct result of his actions. Calling all news fake news if it doesn’t report him in a positive light. Telling people on the White House staff the should quit if they disagree. Yeah, I’ll acknowledge him as my President as soon as he acknowledges me as his constituent.

This thing he did, it sucks. And we’re slowly working through it. And it may have (debatable) minimal consequences for me or for many of you, but please know, some things you can’t just work through after the chaos dies down. You can’t always rebuild bridges burned, especially after you’ve sold the land. You can’t rebuild mountains, put ice back on the glaciers. You can’t un-blow up countries, take back that nuclear missile fired, or bring dead people back to life. Trump signed that order because he wanted to, and that’s it. Nobody else was really involved. Acting like Joffrey Lannister, he pointed at something to destroy, and giggled as he watched it fall. He could give two shits about what happened next, because damn, look at all these photographers taking my photo. Don’t my John Hancock look nice here on this important page?

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Protestors in Denver International Airport. Photo cred: Jeff Short

Also, I’ll just leave this right here:

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Check, check, check, check, CHECK, CHECK, oh shit, CHECK, CHECK, WTF, AHHHHHH!!!

2 Comments on “dear mr. trump: it’s not what you did, it’s how you did it

  1. Yesssssssssssssssss this. Thank you SO much for writing this. Unfortunately, not as many of the bloggers I follow have been talking about what’s been going on in this country these past few days, and it makes me really sad and disappointed.

    Like

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