As someone who started to develop and grow in the 2000s, the widespread threats that my country faced as I was growing up were largely viewed through some extension of “terrorism”. When I was a kid, defining these threats was simple: when someone or a group of people harmed others in a devastatingly harmful way, that was the new threat. As I grew to understand it more, it wasn't exactly the threat of "terrorism" that made shockwaves in the news and communities; it’s not the act of harming others, it’s the fear that comes from it. The insidious radiation of this fear from an unspoken or spoken, looming threat of being hurt in a similar way, the threat of having your safety taken away – that made gravity weigh on smiling faces and beating hearts more so than usual.
This came to my mind this week, as the news broke that Mr. Trump fired James Comey, the FBI Director and lead investigator on Trump and his administration’s ties to Russia. Immediately, social media and news outlets exploded with stories, including how Sean Spicer decided to hide in some bushes to avoid the press (note: the original article now reads that he hid “among” the bushes, but this only came about after a briefing that Spicer would not allow to be taped). People from all parties started to see a correlation between investigating Trump and job security. Sally Yates, Preet Bahara, and now James Comey; these names should ring a sharp tune in the ears of every person in this country because they stood in Trump's way, and now they've been forcibly removed from a position where they might have been able to directly do that again.
The letter that did the official firing of James Comey stated that "[Comey is] not able to effectively lead the Bureau" and that "It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission." Trump then went on to claim that he fired Comey because of a mishandling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. Beyond that, in an interview with NBC News, he mentioned that he was thinking about how the Russian investigation "with Trump and Russia is a made-up story...an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election," while deciding to fire Comey.
I.) Looking at the letter, let's highlight the "we" of who will find new leadership for the organization responsible for investigating corruption. The "we" is speaking of the Trump administration, which is the potential seat of the corruption that the FBI is convinced played a part in the 2016 election.
II.) Trump was in favor of Comey's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton while he was campaigning, and has popularly been cited saying that Comey had "guts", which is one of the greatest compliments that can be given by someone with such a lack of everything else required in decision-making. Although people are allowed to change their mind from time to time, such a dramatic flip on the opinion of something that helped his victory (along with potential help from Russia) in the election is unusual.
III.) Trump admitted to using the Russian investigation as a point by which he judged Comey's worthiness to be in office. Whether he meant that he was trying to derail the investigation or saying that stopping it wouldn't make a difference, it's undeniable that he would rather have the investigation gone. Bonus points for speaking in third person like a child.
But beyond the reasons for dismissing Comey, the actual action of doing so isn't just something that happens and we move on from. There is a reason that people on both sides of the major partisan lines are disturbed by this and calling for an independent prosecutor: they're scared. And they should be. Everyone should be. The results are in from the first 100 days of his presidency: the society that Trump's organization strives for is that of a weakened and deafened people. Trump has proven multiple times that he will do his best to get rid of anyone who steps up to the plate with him.
Trump isn't just firing an employee, he's issuing a threat to the American people. He's using fear to control us by showing us that he can hurt those that attack him. He has no regard for access to life-saving insurance; he doesn't care about the safety of marginalized people, inside or outside of school; he won't let anyone he disagrees with into his hearings; his racism and sexism has seeped into people's hearts, including that of children; he doesn't want anyone looking into his seizing of the presidential position; and with it, he only wishes to boost himself up and tear anyone who opposes him down. This, dear readers, is a kind of terrorism in the modern day. He and those with him are a threat to democracy and a threat to the country, and they are not afraid to show it.
Raise questions and resist.