(Let us not forget!)
Over the past three years, the Groping Old President and his Groveling Old Party have sown so much discord, chaos, and danger that we are now reminding each other “to focus on what’s important,” to “not get distracted” by the latest illegal comments and behaviors of the man who stole the White House. This is both good and misleading advice. Good, in that political resistance to Trump must rely on documented facts, data, and coordinated resistance efforts focused on the actions placing the greatest number of people in danger. Misleading, in that every so-called “distraction” also represents an illegal speech-act and/or behavior of the Groping Old President. As a person who has researched and written copiously on harassment and assault, I hear every utterance and read every tweet of the White House occupant as an accountant tallies debits and credits. The accumulation of racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic (combined with numerous other –isms and phobias) behaviors amounts to a pattern of harassing behavior by the most visible workplace supervisor in the most iconic workplace of the United States.
We should not be distracted from recognizing our border policies as crimes of the highest order: separation of families; isolation of children; children in cages; rape and molestation of migrants and refugees; deprivation of basic needs; denial of legal services. The concentration camps created by the White House occupant and supported by the GOP make us a brutal and punishing nation. These concentration camp gurus complement their crimes at the border with ICE raids. We must remember that targeted raids, round-ups, and concentration camps were the cornerstone of the Third Reich. At a family party three years ago, I called Trump a fascist, evoking the ire of family members for my too-heightened rhetoric. Well, here we are, three years later, with a president whose fascism becomes more textbook with each act and utterance. The United Nations has appropriately weighed in on the human rights abuses enacted in the country that claims to be the strongest democracy in the world. When Trump says about Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayana Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib, “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” he is unwittingly describing his country, the United States of America, as “a broken and crime infested place.” Yes, that’s one fact he has right after three years of the destruction he has wrought.
We should not be distracted from the fact that Trump lost the battle over the citizenship question on the 2020 Census and wants us to forget that he lost. Of course, his unconstitutional attempts to add it brought him some success, in that some people had to respond in the test census and many people fear responding at all at this point.
(*Read Valeria Luiselli’s Tell Me How It Ends. An Essay in Forty Questions.)
We should not be distracted from criminal justice reform, needed more acutely than ever to decolonize, deracialize, and decriminalize, and to restore full humanity and rights to all peoples. Here is just a small sampling of the challenges and injustices of “living while black,” published by CNN.
(*Watch Ava Duvernay’s Selma and 13th. Read Jesmyn Ward’s edited collection, The Fire This Time. Read Ta-Nehisi Coates. Read Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy.)
Three years ago at this time, we learned of the Access Hollywood tape. We learned that the GOP candidate articulated rapist desires and revealed a rapist past. Russia and the GOP elected him anyway, and now we have a criminal in the White House whose rap sheet is as long as were Mueller’s days investigating him. While we’re at it, let us not forget that Mueller will testify on July 24th. In Gender Shrapnel in the Academic Workplace, I link sexual and racial harassment to assault, stating that if we don’t address damaging behavior on the harassment end, then we will never address criminal behavior on the rape-assault end of the spectrum. Trump’s Access Hollywood tape already told us everything we needed to know about how his tenure in the White House would go. By election time, he had already harassed Miss Universe participants, Rosie O’Donnell, Carly Fiorina, and Hillary Clinton. This list includes, up to 2017, “every offensive comment in one place.” In this month alone, July of 2019, the criminal has harassed Megan Rapinoe and the United States World Cup Soccer Champion team and Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley, and Tlaib. The harassment is intersectional, based on race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. Trump is Trump, and he is also the company he keeps (Roger Ailes, Roger Stone, Jeffrey Epstein, Billy Bush, and the list goes on and on).
We have all the data we need. For any workplace in the United States, this documentation would be more than sufficient for bringing a Title VII case. It is time, way past time, to initiate impeachment proceedings. I have never cared if it is politically expedient to impeach, thinking that impeachment is simply the right thing to do. At this point, impeachment seems both politically expedient and the right thing to do. Representative John Lewis tweets: “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Do not become bitter or hostile. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. We will find a way to make a way out of no way. #goodtrouble.” Impeachment might just be the “good trouble” we need.
Let us not be distracted from any of these profound injustices, explicit crimes, and dangerous words and actions. It is time to act.