The Banality of Trump: Guest MINDSETTER™ Geoff Schoos

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

 

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The past ten days have seemed like a lifetime, with each hour presenting us with some new Executive Order addressing a controversial public topic. Whether the Affordable Care Act, the “Wall” on the US/Mexico border, or just a few days ago the ban on entry into the United States, it becomes increasingly evident that this administration is ruling by executive fiat rather than by any sense of a Constitutional process and rule of law.

Those who have read Hannah Arendt and her discussion of the banality of evil understand the process of banality – acts previously considered beyond the pale become the new normal. We are starting down a road leading to a new normal, a road that we should jump off of as soon as possible.

For example, every modern president has disclosed the nature of his finances and has divested himself from his business concerns. Even poor Jimmy Carter had to sell his peanut farm in order to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. Not President Trump who steadfastly refuses to disclose his tax returns and divest himself from his companies, instead putting his two sons in charge of them with the promise that the boys wouldn’t talk to him about the business. Honest, he promises. 

And let’s not forget that Americans, through the Electoral College, elected a foul-mouthed misogynist jerk. But then that’s the new normal of Trump being Trump – authentic, unconventional, and unique. At no other time in American history would someone have been elected who has said and behaved the way Trump has. 

We have put in office a man so colossally ill-prepared for the duties of that office as to be positively frightening. Or it would be frightening enough if it weren’t for those he’s selected to advise him. Trump, with no political or governing, experience has surrounded himself with people equally devoid of knowledge and experience as he, no doubt to protect his sensitive ego. 

Speaking of sensitive egos, let’s not forget that he lost the popular vote. But how does he explain that?  By making an unsupported claim that millions of illegal voters (aliens) voted for Clinton.  Otherwise, he’d have won the popular vote. Sad.

But what’s truly frightening is his racism displayed in the guise of national security. Since his inauguration, he has signed two Executive Orders: one for the Wall on our southwestern border, and the second a ban prohibiting entry of foreign nationals from seven Middle Eastern and African countries.  

Using fear to gin up support for these Orders, he claims to protect the “Homeland,” a reminiscent sounding term from a by-gone era. The Wall is purported to defend not just our national security but also our economic security from the onslaught of Mexican and Central American hordes. Related to the Wall is his plan to impose an import tax on items produced in Mexico and exported to the United States. He claims that this is how he will get Mexico to pay for the Wall, but he must have been absent the day they taught economics at the University of Pennsylvania. The fact is that whatever tax is imposed will be passed along to the consumer. In other words, we will all pay for that stupid Wall. Very Sad.

More egregious is his     Order banning the entry of people from seven different countries into the United States. As of this writing, this Order threatens to further inflame tensions in the Middle East, disrupt our allies in the region, particularly Iraq, and place many of our European allies in an untenable position of either having to defend our action or oppose it. Incompetent.

Without getting into the weeds on both Orders, suffice it to say that neither was necessary. For example, illegal entry through Mexico has slowed to negligible numbers, with many people leaving to return to their native lands.

The Order banning entry from the seven countries was unnecessary because there is already a process in place that is rigorous and laborious, often taking two years of multiple levels of scrutiny before someone receives permission to enter out country. 

What do these two Orders have in common? They target people who are brown and black, particularly the order banning entry into the country. Is it for national security?  Then why exclude Turkey which has had its share of terrorist attacks and has long been thought of as a conduit of terrorists to Europe? Why not the United Arab Emirates or Indonesia? Could it be because, as the Washington Post reported, Trump Enterprises has business interests in those three countries?

And why exclude people from Belgium or France from the ban? Both countries have witnessed terror attacks waged on their people by terrorists who acted as part of terrorist cells located in those countries. Why not Great Britain, which has ethnic Pakistani members of Parliament?

And why then, where the Executive Order cited 9/11 as rational for the entry ban, is Saudi Arabia not included?  After all, 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. 

At first blush, the entry ban is not focused on National Security, for if it was, it would be far different than that nonsense signed late last Friday afternoon. While the law gives the President broad discretion in these matters, it does not allow him to act capriciously. It appears that in this instance he has. Lawless!

But there’s another issue, not as pronounced but very real, and that is the religious affiliation of those seeking to enter this country. By his own admissions, Christians from those seven nations would be permitted entry into the United States as members of a “persecuted” religion. This is an unconstitutional litmus test.

If the banality of Donald Trump continues unabated, morphing into a new normal, where traditional American values as justice, fairness, and the rule of law are mere conveniences, then we are in serious trouble. These past ten days (as of this writing) has had me recall the following quote from Robert Kennedy:

The glory of justice and the majesty of law are created not just by the Constitution - nor by the courts - nor by the officers of the law - nor by the lawyers - but by the men and women who constitute our society - who are the protectors of the law as they are themselves protected by the law. 

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Geoffrey A. Schoos, Esq is the President of the Rhode Island Center for Law and Public Policy

 

Related Slideshow: Trump Rally in Warwick Rhode Island, April, 2016

Photography by Richard McCaffrey

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