We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming of corridos, big dumb cumbias, and terrible sax puns to bring you the following public service announcement:
On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump promised — in his own explicit words — to undermine the U.S. Constitution and international law. He promised to do this in several different ways. OK, many different ways. Honestly, the prospect of challenging this guy’s terrible ideas is like a damn organized resistance whack-a-mole: focus on one thing and more terrible ideas just keep popping up.
The terrible ideas most germane to the Blog involve undocumented immigrants, their families, and anyone who happens to look like them. The ACLU explains it this way: Trump has proposed deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants, a number he later walked back to 3 million. Either way, it’ll be a huge job — and so to get the job done, law enforcement personnel will likely be forced to cut corners by racially profiling, and legal personnel will likely have to curtail due process. There’s your 5th and 14th amendments right there. Trump and his chortling henchman Rudy Giuliani don’t exactly inspire confidence when they promise a return to New York City’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices.
So there’s that.
Other terrible and unconstitutional ideas involve establishing a registry for Muslims, rejecting Muslim immigrants because they practice Islam, monitoring mosques and Muslim-American communities, and “opening up our libel laws” to more easily sue journalists who, I dunno, write bad things about Trump or his aides. (Like Steve Bannon, Trump’s “Chief Strategist,” who would probably rather be called a “feisty raconteur” than an “enabler of white supremacy,” which is pretty much the same as being a plain old white supremacist.) Trump has also said, with his own words, which you can easily find, that he wants to torture people.
He has other terrible ideas, not necessarily forbidden by the Constitution or international law: Parting citizens from their health insurance. Hastening, rather than slowing, global warming. Opening up protected land to industry. Forcing transgender people to use the bathroom or locker room of their birth gender. (NorteñoBlog is no legal scholar and may therefore be overlooking some Constitutional protections in this case, which is going before the Supreme Court.) But they’re all terrible ideas. In the only areas where Trump inspires any sympathy — his promise to modify or reject trade deals, and a possibly-hopefully-who-knows less interventionist streak in his foreign policy — he seems worryingly ignorant of how actual foreign policy is accomplished. He displays little appetite to learn.
What do we do to undermine this guy’s terrible ideas? I dunno. If protesting is your thing, shutting down the Magnificent Mile on Black Friday or meditating around the Bean, do that. Maybe I’ll see you someday. In the meantime, here’s what NorteñoBlog is doing:
1. Give money to organizations who can help. If you can. Especially, given Trump’s promises to undermine the Constitution, to civil rights fighters like the ACLU and the SPLC. They’ve been slogging it out for years, even during the Obama era, which was no picnic for undocumented immigrants, or for innocent people who happened to be standing too close to suspected terrorists during Middle East drone strikes. These organizations have an infrastructure in place, and their work will outlast the new president.
2. Call your congresspeople. If you haven’t already, read this handy how-to guide by a former congressional staffer. Lesson #1: If you go to a town hall meeting, bring like-minded friends. Lesson #2: Phone calls to congresspeople’s federal and especially state offices work better than letters, and letters work better than emails or screeds on Facebook or Twitter, which have little effect. But if you call, your voice may be heard. Today I asked some friendly staffers to encourage my Senators and Representative to denounce Steve Bannon and to use the words “white supremacy” when they do it. We’ll see how that goes.
3. Watch out for bullying and defuse it. You don’t necessarily have to challenge bullies to fights or even put them in their place, although I won’t try to stop you. Engage the person who’s being bullied. Stay with them until they’re safe from the bully. Ignore the bully as best you can. Call the police if necessary.
4. Tell NorteñoBlog your story. Let’s face it, this is not a widely read venue. But it is something, and it’s been way too long since I posted an “Ask a Norteño Fan” feature. If you wanna enlighten me about immigration law, the shitty state of Mexican politics, your family history, or why El Komander makes you feel like Wonder Woman, I’d love to hear from you. You can remain anonymous if you want. Leave a comment and we’ll figure out how to connect.
My most euphoric musical moment of the summer came in a Wisconsin coffeehouse, when some old-school hippies led a packed house singing what oughta be the U.S. national anthem, Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” Hearing it sung by Sones de Mexico reminds me that the promise of that hymn isn’t just for people who look like me, or who were born here — it’s for anyone who comes to the U.S. and stakes their own claim to that promise. The U.S. remains an idea and an ideal; the promises of our Constitution transcend our legal borders and our terrible history of racially motivated plunder. The ideal is really hard to see right now, and for millions of marginalized people, it’s been a joke for generations. I’m sorry it’s only hitting me now.
Now back to work.