©donnaesgro – Women’s March 1/21/17 Los Angeles, California
“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
George Orwell – 1984
On Sunday January 21, 2017, I, along with millions of others around the world, lifted my voice in protest against a new era of strange and dangerous politics.
To lift one’s voice is one of the most patriotic acts a citizen can make. It is practicing freedom of speech-a constitutional right that has been a cornerstone of our democracy since its inception. A right that Donald Trump negates, telling journalists on his first day in office that “they are going to pay a big price” (for “lying” about the size of the crowd that attended his inauguration). Later in the day, he sent Sean Spicer, his press secretary, to further admonish and threaten the media. Spicer advised journalists that “the new administration would hold them to account”
Since then Trump’s rapid fire muffling orders are of major concern for all citizens of the world. In his first few days of office Trump has excised all mention of climate change from the White House website, silenced the National Parks Service, and instituted a complete media blackout of the Environmental Protection Agency. These authoritarian actions, coming from a U.S. President who believes that the despot Vladimir Putin, who controls all news outlets in Russia, is “a smart man”, are chilling. Words matter, as Putin so cunningly knows, and this is precisely why the voices lifted on Sunday can never go silent.
When Kellyanne Conway, Trumps councilor, can announce that the president’s statements are “alternative facts” we are entering a doublethink twilight zone of distorted reality that poses a grave threat to our freedom.
Trump recently compared the CIA to Nazi’s, then a few days later told them that he “loved” them, unless those two things are not mutually exclusive to Donald Trump, one of them is an alternate fact.
Donald Trump, throughout his campaign, has steadily undermined the press in a transparent effort to intimidate and weaken their power, making such statements as, “I’m going to open up our libel laws so when (journalists) write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” and more recently, “I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth.”
In his first week in office, Trump has wreaked havoc. So it may seem that the focus on freedom of the press is of lesser concern than lack of healthcare, deportations, denial of environmental protections, barring of immigrants, and other humanitarian rights and causes that Trump has slashed his way through. But, I believe strongly that if we loose our voice these other pressing matters cannot be addressed. That if we loose our freedom of speech, our ability to both hear the truth and speak the truth, we loose our ability to mobilize, organize, and resist; our ability to make change.
Remember, this is the man who believes in punishing and criminalizing citizen dissent. Less than two months before taking the solemn oath of office to the presidency, inspired by the act of a anti-Trump college protester, he tweeted that burning a U.S. flag should be punished by “perhaps loss of citizenship or a year in jail”
Because the White House has been compromised, and the Supreme Court, the historically staunch supporter of the sacrosanct U.S. Constitution, is in peril, all of us have now become personally responsible for upholding our countries principals. Pay attention, speak up, do whatever is in your power. Those of us who believe in liberty and justice for all are many and strong. To be silent is to be oppressed.
© Saul Loeb/AFP-Getty Images – Greenpeace protesters at work 1/25/17