As I write this, the date is January 29th, 2017. We have had Donald J. Trump as President for exactly nine days. And already, we're seeing increased restrictions on basic civil liberties we thought were guaranteed to us by our Constitution.
The United States was founded as a country based on the idea of religious freedom. The colonists came to the "New World" to get away from the restrictions placed upon them by the restrictive government of England. We established a Constitution, the First Amendment of which outlines the basic rights we're guaranteed as citizens: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to petition the government. The Founding Fathers of our country put these things in place to assure that from then on, American citizens would be able to have these basic rights. Now, nine days into a new administration, these ideas that make America the incredible country it is are being put to the test.
In just over a week, the brand new Trump administration has put a gag order on the National Parks Services on discussion of global warming, implemented a ban on Muslims entering the United States (even with a green card), discussed how they were going to build the wall, and signed an executive order that reinstated the global gag rule, or a rule that requires non-governmental programs in other countries receiving federal funding to agree to not perform abortions.
All of this incredibly restrictive policy in just over a week. Why?
One looking at the events that have happened this week in the context of history can't help but notice that, despite the repetition of the phrase, "never forget," we have forgotten. We are starting down the same route as Germany in 1933. Many may think that seems dramatic and over the top, but it's anything but that. When Hitler first rose into power, his first step wasn't throwing everyone into concentration camps. He started with silencing the scientists, those with a voice, those with power who would try to stop him. He silenced them while the people were still okay with him pinning all of their problems on the Jews, on the feared minority. He restricted those who spoke against him, slowly turning the heat up on a boiling pot until the water was too hot to stand and killed so many people left inside.
Is this not what's happening in America today? We already have incredibly strict regiments for Syrian refugees, more than immigrants or refugees from any other place in the world, and yet the Trump administration is taking advantage of small minded hate to keep the people who so desperately need our help away from the help they need. They're taking advantage of the fear of a minority to hurt people who would never even think of hurting anyone. It's cruel stereotypes and harmful words, and in 1933, everyone turned a blind eye.
Now, this isn't happening. With access to social media that spreads across the globe, people aren't sitting back. There are petitions spreading far and wide to lift the ban on the entrance of many Muslims into the country, even as natural born citizens. The National Parks are speaking out against their ban, making anonymous Twitter accounts to allow the world to see the truth even as they are attempted to be silenced. People are getting out and protesting, chanting and making signs, coming together as a collective whole to stop the Trump regime from becoming one of cruelty, dictatorship, and fascism.
The difference between Germany 1933 and the United States 2017 is access. We have access to anywhere in the world at any time. Staying silent while such horrible things are happening in the world is being complicit in the terrible things that are happening. If you don't speak against it, you are working for it. Staying silent is letting a terrible, cruel regime do terrible, cruel things to people who never did anything to deserve the harsh treatment they're receiving from a country that's supposed to be "the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Sitting back now is as good as working for the side of bad. Sitting back now is a violent act, one that allows cruelty to come out in a society that was founded to be safe for anyone and everyone. And remember: Trump isn't going to stop at Muslims. He isn't going to stop after the wall is built. He is going to tear down everyone that gets in his way. Once he gets to you, it may be too late to do anything. And if you wait that long, the United States will be so deeply entrenched in a fascist regime that the only thing to do will be to hope that we make it out of the other end alive.
To quote Martin Nemöller :
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Don't wait until there's no one left.