by Stacia Friedman

When U.C. Berkeley students protested a campus visit by Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, President Trump threatened to cut the university’s federal funding, not because of any actions taken by the peaceful students, but because of violent demonstrations by outside agitators described as “anarchists.” The fact that Trump’s threat was issued via Twitter made it no less chilling. Is this how all student protests will be silenced across the nation, by defunding state colleges?

Perhaps I am catastrophizing, but, if left unchecked, I see the Trump administration, with the former publisher of Breitbart at the helm, turning the First Amendment into a political tool with which to suppress protest and to incite violent religious and ethnic hatred. Whether he admits to knowing David Duke or not, Trump just removed the Klan from the Terrorist List, thereby legitimizing them and all but invited them into our campuses and communities.

If Trump champions free speech by the Klan and the alt-right, why is he bludgeoning free speech by the 1,000 State Department employees who voiced their concerns about the Muslim ban? Why was he so quick to silence Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates for doing her job?  Why did Bannon tell the media to “shut up”?

More to the point, how long will it take for this administration’s self-serving interpretation of the First Amendment to escalate into full-blown martial law with the National Guard reenacting the Kent State Massacre?

Call me an alarmist, but I have never been so fearful for my country. I am told there are “checks and balances” to prevent our democracy from a demagogue or madman. But when I heard that Trump had invited two Supreme Court candidates to come to the White House, all I can say is that I was relieved he didn’t hand Judge Gorsuch a red rose. (Thank God, the other candidate had enough self-respect to stay home.)

There is a theory quickly spreading on social media which warns that all of the executive orders issued during the administration’s first week were a “head fake.” Meaning, they were created to distract us from the truly dangerous activities taking place out of public view. This could include covert operations in Iran, Iraq or Syria to make good on another campaign promise – taking the oil fields. Sure, it’s illegal. But the law doesn’t seem to apply to Trump.

If not stealing oil fields, the Trump-Bannon regime could be cozying up to Russia and forming secret trade and military alliances of which Ukraine will be collateral damage. Or who knows? The man who said,“We’ve got ‘em, why not use ‘em?” might decide to nuke Iran. Given his total ignorance of basic science (i.e. “Climate change is a hoax created by China, folks.”) Trump might not know that a nuclear attack anywhere will result in worldwide radioactive fallout for years.

Which brings me to my only hope. While I applaud the millions who marched across the country and around the world on Jan. 21, I believe the only way we liberals will prevent our Constitution from going up in flames and our country from going down the toilet is to partner with Republicans who share our concerns. Earlier this week, I called the office of State Rep. Charlie Dent (R) to thank him for voicing opposition to the Muslim Ban. He is but one of dozens of Republican Congressmen and Senators who are not afraid to stand up to Trump and his cronies. As months (and our freedoms) unravel, I expect many other Republican politicians with an eye on 2018 elections to join the voices of dissent. These are the people with whom we liberals need to collaborate regarding the dangers Trump presents. Even if we differ regarding other issues.

This is a unique and uncertain time in American history for which we will be judged for centuries to come. We need to come out of our social media echo chambers and speak with our neighbors, face to face, to find the common humanity that is in all of us.

Stacia Friedman is a regular contributor to the Local.



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  • disqus_wZUB6w9ANy

    Truly a joke of an observation of recent events. Before the travel restriction (not Muslim ban) was announced, a poll a over 10,000 Europeans noted that 55% wanted refugee migration to Europe to stop, only 20% wanted it to continue and 25% did not answer. A temporary well executed travel restriction into this country for the purpose of public safety makes sense. By the way, when refugees and illegal immigrants come here (or immigrants) en mass, what happens in the home country?? are not citizens any country’s most valuable resource? Is it not more difficult for that country to build bridges, roads, hospitals, a stable economy??
    Regarding many recent protests and marches, many devolved into riots. There is no debate about that. There is no “right” to riot. (Have no idea why police have repeatedly allowed rioting to occur these last few years. Oh wait, too many individual cops commit egregious civil rights violations, against both black and white citizens– you just don’t hear about the violations against whites)

    • Stacia Friedman

      Just curious. Can you name the Muslim nations that produced terrorism on US soil? And do you wonder why they are not on the list of 7 nations? And are you unaware that refugees whom you describe as “any country’s most valuable resource” are fleeing genocide just as my grandparents did?

      • Darryl Hart

        Stacia, when did Islam become progressive?

        • Stacia Friedman

          Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, is as progressive or reactionary as its individual adherents. That is irrelevant to the point of my essay which focuses on the current administration’s disregard for Constitutional Law.

          • Darryl Hart

            That would be the Constitution of slave holding southerners? Where do you turn in U.S. history for moral perfection?

      • Legal immigrant

        Non sequitor. Don’t conflate these countries with the European countries all of our forefathers ‘fled’ from. Would your opinion really change if trump had included Saudi Arabia? I doubt it. Please think of the implications of your advocacy. I suggest you speak with honest, people from Germany (like my parents, grandparents, and childhood friends, yes I’m an immigrant myself, legal…and yes, I waited in line for the privilege to move to this great county. I’m not a German either, but rather an ethnic Jew) to get their take on these ‘refugees’ and what their intentions are – I’ll bet your idealism will quickly be shattered if you would actually open your ears. I have heard some horror stories about what has been unleashed on the streets of Munich following Merkel’s actions and I’m sure you don’t want it imported to our neighborhoods if you fully grasped what we’re dealing with. Several of my family members are trying to leave Germany now because they know what the end game is and it’s not in favor of the prevailing German/Western culture which values classical liberalism and individual rights (including women, Jews, gays, etc)…they want out. Do you really want that here? Let’s be honest – not all cultures can assimilate with each other…you can kick and scream in opposition all you want but please just see the reality of what you’re advocating…speak to an actual German and decide if that’s what you want to import here – Trump is a blowhard and small-minded populist, but he’s right when it comes to this question. America is only as good as her ideals and values, and that’s seriously in danger if we dilute that with rash actions that defer more to guilt than upholding what all of western civilization has held dear for centuries.

        • David McKenna

          What planet are you on, Legal Immigrant? On Planet Earth, Munich is Germany’s safest big city. There is no evidence that the vast majority of Muslim immigrants, in America or Germany, pose a greater security threat than other immigrant groups. You clumsily state that “not all cultures can assimilate with each other” even though immigrants from all over the world — not just Christians from Europe — have assimilated here with relative ease and have helped make America the world’s most wealthy and powerful nation. You obviously suffer from xenophobia — literally, “fear of the stranger” — and are a modern-day example of the Know Nothings who fought so hard and stupidly to close America’s border to immigrants in the 19th century. I won’t pretend to understand your irrational fears but trust me, you sound every bit as “small-minded” and dangerous as Trump and his legion of bigoted supporters. I hope you get better soon.

          • Legal Immigrant

            Have you been to Munch lately, David? That’ll provide you all the evidence you need – I’ll wait to get your thoughts and observations on how society there has changed in a few short years upon your return. That’s a window into what may happen here if we follow the same path. Open your eyes. Also, spare me the hollow and lazy ‘xenophobia’ labels, too. The last resort of folks like you is to start hurling charges like that (or ‘racism’) when you’re presented with a point of view you don’t agree with.

    • Mike

      I’m no longer welcome on the Paulick Report. Saw your comment and I agree with it 100% regrading racing GG too much. There’s a right and wrong way, this screams wrong.

  • David Swift

    Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn as a place where immigrants could practice religious freedom without fear of retribution or persecution.Penn aggressively sought out people of other religions throughout Europe to participate in his “Holy Experiment.” This is the basis of the American Constitution.
    Muslims have been migrating to this land for over 400 years.There’s even evidence of Muslims being aboard Columbus’ ships.
    Our policy in the Middle East of bombing,droning,etc.and now attempting to deny people the possibility of living in peace,freedom and the ability to worship the God of their choosing contradicts the very foundation of our existence.I believe our behavior only inflames our enemies to strengthen their resolve against us.
    There is a story of an encounter between William Penn and George Fox.Penn expressed concern over wearing a sword(a standard part of dress for people of his station).And how this was not in keeping with his beliefs.Fox responded.”Wear it as long as thou canst.” Later,When Penn met Fox again he was not wearing his sword,Penn said.”I have taken thy advice,I wore it as long as I could.”
    I believe we need to put our swords away,stop making enemies and welcome all who yearn to breathe free.
    Thankyou Ms Friedman for your wise,well written piece.

  • wbramh

    Refugees and undocumented workers have a lower incidence of violent crime in this country than do natural born Americans, so perhaps Trump is denying entrance to and deporting the wrong people.
    Additionally, refugees already go through extensive background checks that can take upwards of 2 years before they’re permitted to immigrate. Too bad we didn’t vet our current president with the same caution.