Anton Iakovenko

Society

When the Ball Is Finally in Trump's (Supreme) Court

It’s been a couple of pretty rough weeks. Many of us recognized the challenges we would face in this presidency, but even the most mettlesome of us have had their spirits tested by recent headlines that have run the gamut from atrocities at the border to reproductive rights being threatened at the federal level to just this morning when the administration rolled back Obama-era protections for affirmative action. All the things that gave this grand democratic experiment we call the United States a fighting chance are being dismantled unceasingly, chunk by chunk.

On the night of November 8, 2016, as more and more states turned red, and we inched closer and closer to a Donald Trump presidency, I cried. I wasn’t alone, either. Soon images of Hillary Clinton supporters—sobbing, holding one another, stunned into silence—circulated the internet, and Trump voters mocked, taunted, and satirized the majority of the American people who voted for a more hopeful, a more inclusive, a more fair United States. And now, one year and 163 days into Donald Trump’s presidency, the reasons why we cried are only becoming more obvious, more sinister and more dire.

We listened as far back as 2013, when Trump claimed “the overwhelming amount of violent crime in our major cities is committed by blacks and Hispanics.” And when he announced his presidential campaign on June 16, 2015. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Now Trump is responsible for the forceful separation of more than 2,342 immigrant children from their parents. As of June 30, more than 2,000 children “remain scattered across 17 states,” while their parents have been sent across the country to detention centers. There have been reports of children enduring grave abuse at immigration detention facilities, including being beaten while handcuffed, locked up for long periods of time in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete cells, and sexual abuse. A Honduran father died by suicide after he was forcefully separated from his family, and Health and Hospitals CEO Mitchell Katz said New York City hospitals have treated 12 immigrant children for ”anxiety, trauma and stress-related illness, including one extreme case of a teen with suicidal ideations after being separated from his mother.”
We knew that those who celebrated on November 8, 2018 wouldn’t be moved to action as they watched those hurt the most by Trump’s policies struggle, even if those people were themselves.
We paid attention to the hypocrisy of Trump claiming he was a “real friend” of the gay community, only to name notoriously anti-LGBTQ Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate. Then we watched as the Trump administration erased protections for transgender students under Title IX, attempted to ban transgender men and women from serving in the military, and celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to side with a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding under the guise of “freedom of expression.” We cried on Election Night because we knew a man who placated the religious right, and who was willing to partner with Pence, would freely strip the rights of LGBTQ people for political gain.

We also paid attention on September 17, 2015, when Trump said, “We have a problem in this country; it’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one,” and on March 9, 2016, when he said “I think Islam hates us. There’s an unbelievable hatred of us.” We listened when, on March 22, 2016, he said, “They are not assimilating… They want to go by sharia law. They want sharia law. They don’t want the laws that we have. They want sharia law,” and on June 14, 2016, at a rally in North Carolina, where he said, “The children of Muslim American parents, they’re responsible for a growing number, for whatever reason, a growing number of terrorist attacks.”

Now, according to the Pew Research Center, the number of assaults against Muslims in the United States has surpassed the number reached in 2001, the year of the 9/11 attacks. The number of hate crimes in 2016 increased by almost five percent to more than 6,100, according to the FBI. And most recently, the Supreme Court upheld Trump’s Muslim ban, indefinitely suspending the issuance of immigrant and nonimmigrant visas to applicants from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as Venezuela and North Korea. We cried because we knew his anti-Muslim rhetoric would morph into a xenophobic national policy.
A lot of the people whose lives have been ripped apart by the marauders currently occupying the White House likely won’t be saved by any favorable results in November and the damage done in the past year will likely reverberate for years after Trump is gone.
Finally, we listened during a presidential debate in October 2016, when he said he would only elect pro-life judges to the United States Supreme Court. “I am pro-life, and I will be appointing pro-life judges,” Trump told moderator Chris Wallace. “If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, [overturning Roe v Wade] will happen, and that will happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.”

Now Justice Robert Kennedy has announced his retirement, and Trump has the chance to make due on his promise—even though 72 percent of voters do not want Roe v Wade overturned, including 52 percent of Trump voters. We cried because we knew a Trump presidency would mean a dangerous decline in legal and safe access to abortion, higher rates of abortion complications and higher maternal mortality rates. We knew that during his presidency and under the guise of being “pro-life,” more women could die.

While 52 percent of white women and 62 percent of white men celebrated “so much red on that map!” on Election Day, freely ridiculing those of us who knew what was ahead, we sat in silence and let the tears stain our cheeks because we knew the battles we would be fighting. We knew that those who celebrated on November 8, 2018 wouldn’t be moved to action as they watched those hurt the most by Trump’s policies struggle, even if those people were themselves. We knew that even those who would come to regret their vote—a now reported 55 percent of the people who voted for Trump—would fail to undo what they at one point in time so adamantly championed. Instead, they would consider their private, and sometimes even pubic, lamentations to be enough, while the rest of us buried ourselves in our activism and felt helpless as either our lives or the lives of our loved ones, friends, families and strangers were forever changed.

With midterms looming closer and closer, it feels as if the uphill climb has only gotten steeper. A lot of the people whose lives have been ripped apart by the marauders currently occupying the White House likely won’t be saved by any favorable results in November, and the damage done in the past year will likely reverberate for years after Trump is gone. But as we continue to march, call representatives and donate to organizations, we do so in the hope that this will eventually be a bitter but short-lived chapter in our history.

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