Trump and Weaponized Silence

by Adrian Mikulak on Jan 26, 2017

“Alternative facts” is a good meme and I salute those like Jake Tapper and Chuck Todd who have a dedication to refuting lies. But memes are dessert and we truly have not earned our dessert without first eating vegetables.

So here’s a plate of them. On Monday, Donald Trump reinstated Ronald Reagan’s “Mexico City Policy” that bans non-governmental organizations that receive federal funding from the United States from performing abortions or advocating to patients that they should have abortions. The Mexico City Policy has been a policy subject to repeal and reinstatement throughout the years with Democratic presidents repealing it and Republican presidents reinstating it. It's a transparent political play meant to appeal to his base by strong-arming health organizations into silence with the threat of loss of funds for a political dogma. In the case of either silence or loss of US financial support, it falls in line with conservative American politics religiously and fiscally. What is left out of the way this is framed by the White House is the fact that there has been a ban on US tax dollars being spent for funding abortions overseas since 1973. It's misleading to imply that the reinstatement of this policy is anything other than redundant or that it is beneficial when it stands to defund necessary health services for which money has been designated. In addition to reduced funding in combating HIV/AIDS, this policy will not reduce abortions but only reduce safe abortions as women across the world still find methods of eliminating unwanted pregnancy.

In short, Donald Trump is showing that women’s health and autonomy over their own bodies is not a priority for his administration but it never has been among Republicans. To imply nothing of the relative severity of his acts, only that this was the first chronologically, this was just the salad. There are still so many vegetables left.

In this first week, the executive actions by Trump have been swift and the underlying theme of them have been about silence. On Tuesday, the White House issued a temporary freeze on spending for grants and contracts by the Environmental Protection Agency both in the future and of the projects that are currently being funded. This affects approximately $4 billion in environmental regulations, research and localized efforts to improve air and water quality[1]. And if non-governmental organizations operating abroad were fortunate enough to receive the option of silence or death, the EPA was forced to take both as in addition to the funding freeze the White House instituted a media blackout in an internal e-mail that banned blog posts, press releases and implied that future social media accounts and existing social media accounts representing different arms of the agency would be subject to control by a central authority.

 

In what can only be assumed as a show of solidarity, the Badlands National Park twitter account tweeted multiple tweets about the effects of manmade climate change on the environment. Badlands National Park has since stated that the tweets were from a private individual and do not reflect the views of the national park and this, in addition to a deletion of an inauguration photo and a temporary social media freeze on the main National Parks twitter account, speaks to the chilling effect we can expect from the Trump administration when facts that disagree with their agenda are shared. It's especially disheartening to see regulatory agencies silenced of their abilities to serve as watchdogs when Trump doubles down on the tactic to ignore the voice of the American people by issuing an authorization to move forward with both the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipeline in the same day he silences the EPA. What further disheartens is the justification of American job creation over environmental safety or the health of the Standing Rock Sioux community, while the lead remains buried about Trump’s connections to the parent companies building the Dakota Access Pipeline. While argumentatively fallacious to claim that doing something for selfish reasons necessarily delegitimizes a person’s actions, when it involves the safety of American citizens and the unnecessary degradation of our environment, it’s worth noting that Donald Trump currently has a stake between $15,000 and $50,000 in Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as between $100,000 and $250,000 in Phillips 66, a company that holds a 25% stake in the Dakota Access LLC (responsible for the construction of the DAPL). While this may not necessarily be influencing his decision to revive these pipelines, he has yet to relinquish these stakes.

Yet, it was only a Tuesday and to silence women, environmental watchdog agencies and Native Americans might have been filling for the average Republican but Donald Trump is not the average Republican. And there are still more vegetables to consume. If you were hoping for maybe a nice carrot cake to mask the flavor of the vegetables, it’s not that. It’s a vegetable jello salad.

 

On Wednesday, Donald Trump tweeted two tweets wherein he vowed to investigate voter fraud. Voter fraud is a common justification used by Republicans to restrict voter rights, which disproportionately affects minorities in America and makes it harder for everyone to vote, rather than easier. This act, above the other two, rings especially petty as it relates not to an issue presented as ethical to the public or even to Trump’s business interests but only to his ego. The man who holds the highest office in the land after winning the electoral college vote is willing to erode the rights of Americans to strengthen the baseless claim that he won the popular vote. This is an issue that is irrelevant, that would be costly to the taxpayer to investigate for an entirely non-factual claim so the man wouldn’t have his ego hurt. Donald Trump is willing to silence and disenfranchise Americans to maintain the lie that he won the popular vote. The first week is only half over.


Tags: women's rights, abortion, women's health, hiv/aids, choice, epa, media blackout, funding freeze, voter rights, voter restrictions, vegetables