Donald Trump is the forty-fifth president of the United States of America. When Trump first announced his candidacy, I – like many others – scoffed and proceeded to take this as another sign of the Republican party’s descent into the absurd. When he began polling higher than the other Republican candidates, I sobered up slightly. When he became the Republican candidate, I became increasingly worried and paranoid. Hence, my swift departure from the United States, a country that I had called home for the majority of my adult life.
Many will accuse me of paranoia, but I intend to take no chances in a country now under the rule of a man who has denigrated, and has now just begun to take concrete action against, large groups of people that may include me. Not everyone is able to pick up and leave whenever they so desire and I am at once conscious and ashamed of the privileges of my personal situation, especially when many are far more at risk than I could ever be.
From afar, I have come across articles and talking heads claiming that the protests that have begun since the election are uncalled for since he has not done anything yet. These are people who thought that Trump ought to have been given the opportunity to govern before being protested by millions across the world. For these people, his undemocratic and dangerous rhetoric throughout the campaign is bizarrely of no consequence.
Resistance to Trumpism is important for this is a president who, in his first few days in office, has already issued memos to continue the construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, who has threatened, through issuing directives to federal agencies, the Affordable Care Act, who has reinstated a ban on funding foreign NGOs that provide “counseling or referrals for abortion or advocating for access to abortion services in their country,” who has signed an executive order on building “a physical wall along the southern border,” building up what will essentially be a deportation force, and constructing detention facilities near the border, who has issued a ban on the admission of refugees from around the world and citizens of seven countries, who has stated his belief that torture “works,” and, perhaps worse of all, who has continuously denied climate change – calling it a Chinese hoax – and had ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to purge all climate change information from its websites – a sign perhaps of worse things to come.
Make no mistake, Trump will not “tone down,” as some suggested before he took office. His cabinet picks, his statements, his executive orders are proof enough of the direction that he will continue to take. If anything, this president will continue in the spirit of his most obscene campaign promises. In just a week since his inauguration, Trump has already done more than enough to convince any clearsighted person with a modicum of respect for human beings and the environment that resistance is imperative. What more is necessary?
At this moment, when it is sinking in that Trump has shut access to refugees from across the world, I am reminded of previous moments in American history when refugees were turned away. Students in history classes often ask themselves what they would have done in such situations. I, myself, have wondered, reading the story of the MS St. Louis and its many unfortunate Jewish refugee passengers in June 1939, what I would have done had I been an American in those times. Now, Americans (and free citizens of the World) will have an answer to these kinds of questions. Many will look away, while others will be resisting, through any way that is possible to them, in the, perhaps always already naive, hope that the tragedies of the past remain in the past.