- Caleb Walsh illustration
After little more than a week in office, Donald Trump is well on his way to becoming the worst president in United States history, causing more damage to our position in the world than a terrorist could hope to accomplish. Sticking to an ugly campaign promise — yes, I see all you "give him a chance" supporters out there — it took just a few days for him to declare war on refugees and close our borders to Muslims who are fleeing violence, oppression and persecution.
The executive order that Trump signed barring all refugees and citizens from seven Muslim countries from travel to the U.S., countries where he has avoided major business ventures, was reviewed by virtually no one, coming as a surprise to even his staff. Not only is it unconstitutional — lawyers in four states already have taken him to court and won — but it is antithetical to American values, and more proof that those shouting "All Lives Matter!" never really cared about all lives. Or as Pope Francis said last October in response to Trump's campaign statements, "It is hypocritical to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee." (Note: Jesus Christ wouldn't make it through customs today.)
And to those who call critics of the ban "liars" because former President Obama implemented stronger travel screenings in 2011? Let's crush those "alternative facts": That order never banned people with green cards, people with valid visas, or dual U.S. citizens from entering or re-entering the country. Trump's executive order did all of that, and more. This underscores the real truth: How many refugees were recently involved in an act of terrorism in the U.S.? Zero. According to Vox, the odds of a refugee killing you in a terrorist strike are about 1 in 3.6 billion. That's 400 times less likely than being hit by lightning... twice.
With most of the Republican members of Congress — including Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers — supporting the ban or keeping silent, they cannot be excused for being deluded enough to think, in the face of all the evidence, that this measure will somehow make America safe. These leaders are acting cruel and inhumane, while giving a voice to discrimination and hate. Yes, that voice has always been there, but so has a voice to defy discrimination and hatred with love, acceptance and unity. We — voters, constituents and community members — won't wait.
Therein lies the other story, of course: Spokane is rising and resisting. If one thing was proven this past month — from Martin Luther King Jr. Day to the Women's March and the solidarity rally for refugees — it's that when times get tough, we get tougher. Facing unprecedented attacks, we are witnessing groups who normally wouldn't be aligned in protest come together in every way possible.
Too much is at stake: At the state level, opponents of equality rushed to file a ballot initiative that would roll back nondiscrimination protections which have protected transgender Washingtonians for 10 years. In the Idaho Legislature and on the ballot, they're seeking to change state code to make performing or undergoing an abortion an act of first-degree murder.
In the city of Spokane, efforts are afoot to repeal the city's protection law saying that the immigration status of an individual "shall not be the sole basis for a contact, detention or arrest."
More marches and rallies will come. As we meet, we can't forget that this is bigger than who is president, or simply a matter of favoring one political ideology over another. Our differences are not as important as what we are all up against, and we must march and rally for policies that will lift up the whole and ensure justice that makes peace a reality for all of us.
In a contemptuous critique of the Women's March, which she didn't attend, Spokesman-Review columnist Sue Lani Madsen said that "protest marches are pointless if not focused."
Well, I have news for her: We're not going to let up. Not on immigration. Not on refugees. Not on public safety. Not on health care and reproductive rights. Not on the environment. Not on human rights.
Not on anything — because this is what democracy looks like. ♦